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Question DetailsAsked on 8/18/2016

Estimation of removing a solid brick load bearing wall?

I am looking into leasing a retail building but need to open it up. It is a single story building w/ flat roof. It was originally a smaller building that someone added a large addition to the rear. So the wall I would like removed/opened up is the back wall of the original building. The wall is 35' long and about 16" thick. It has 3 doorway openings total - 1 in each corner and one and a window opening in the middle. One corner doorway is 6' from the wall, the other is about 4'. Since the doorways are about 36" wide each, the part I would like removed would be about 19' long. Is this possible? A couple support columns would be ok, or even leaving a small portion of the wall as a column or two. It is in the Overland Park, KS area. I have photos if needed. Thanks!

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1 Answer


Allowing columns makes it readily doable, provided the brick is in decent shape - not breaking up, crumbling with age, etc. I also have a suspicion, if the wall is actually 16" thick, that it may be concrete core with brick on each side unless all the bricks are exposed end-on on both faces of the wall.

Anyway, would require a Structural Engineer to do the design of the carry beams to support the upper part of the wall and the columns to support it - which could be independent in the 19' span, or incorporated at the edges of remnant brick columns - but almost certain to need steel or concrete columns at each side of the opening as well as a spot or two along the way.

Since this sounds like a remodel job, and you will certainly need a building permit and possibly architectural feature work on the area as well, I would recommend going with an Architect (your Search the List category, though most of the ones on Angies List will be residential oriented) who has in-house structural capability as well - most commercial architect and architect/engineer firms have that. Depending of course on the current wall condition and construction (will likely need a core sample or two to confirm that), probably in the $1500-3000 range for the engineering and permit support for the opening up including drawings for rerouting of utilities in/on the wall - plus any architect cost for working up other remodel issues.

The actual wall work - could run anything from about $8-15,000 range on the low end to maybe $25-40,000 VERY ROUGH ballpark, depending on current construction and on whether you are leaving any wall overhead or going clear to the underside of the roof structure with the new supports (which would be easier in most cases), and on whether steel or interior exposed wood columns and beams for looks (which is more expensive usually). Of course, exterior and interior finish over the columns and beams affects cost too - from bare wood or steel to fancy hardwood panelled or artsy plaster or whatever - that is something you and architect need to discuss up front because to some extent it affects the subframing for the new wall area.

On your dimension - you said 35' - 6-4-2x3 = 19' - add up right, but does not account for the need for a support column at the sides of the doors - so your actual opening from inside of outer column to inside of other outer column will be more like 17' probably (not counting intermediate columns (unless you move doors), which could be totally eliminated for that span by going with a heavy beam or truss across the top to leave an open span if desired for probably about $1000-2000 added cost - rough ballpark.

Of course, check your lease terms - owner probably has to approve the remodel, and of course in normal leases the cost is your risk - owner pays nothing for the remodel when you move out.

IF that is too pricey for you, you could veer toward the low end by just punching more doorways (openings if you wanted) through the wall - perhaps a series of symetric brick arches or a major one in middle with two smaller ones on the sides ? Depending on current wall construction, might be able to get away with just a rectangular steel supporting frame at the openings, or new brick or concrete or curved steel beam arch (any of which could be drywall covered of course) in the openings without any new major beam at all, which if current construction supports that concept might bring your total wall remodel cost down into the $10,000 or even less range for the entire job (engineering and construction) in normal labor cost areas.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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