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Question DetailsAsked on 12/1/2016

What is an estimated cost of removing a load bearing wall in a two story home.

We are wanting to remove the wall that separates our living room and family room. We are almost certain it is load bearing ( wall has large beam underneath which you can see from the crawl space and the floor joists are perpendicular to the wall) the wall is roughly 10-12 ft long. It has a plumbing stack running right in the center. Was also wanting to know if a column could be built around the plumbing stack to hold the load or if it would be about the same cost to reroute the plumbing and put in a beam. Just a rough estimate. Needing to know about how much money we should be looking at having to spend.

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Below are a fair number of links (some with other links as well) to a bunch of previous similar questions with answers - of course, each case is unique and you would need a Structural Engineer or Architect (who generally has a Structural on-staff or affiliated with them) depending on whether you want just an open-span structural support solution to give to a contractor (and use as the design documentation that will be needed for the building permit) or if you want architectural design elements included in the design or not.

On the plumbing stack - if a vent pipe or single drain line or such I would just move it fi feasible - if the main stack it can commonly be incorporated in or tacked onto the side of a column (upsized to accomodate it), but bear in mind any problems in that stack in the future within the column area will be a bear to fix - so moving it would be preferable if reasonably feasible - perhaps another reason to get an Architect involved in your case. If the stack is incorporated with the column, I would emphatically recommend it be run in a chase on the SIDE of the column or in the middle of two paired columns with at least an inch clearance all around, not be built into the interior of the column itself - that way for repairs one can just tear into the drywall or remove a wood facade to access it, not have to support and then cut into the column itself. Of course, putting it in between two columns or alongside one makes the overall column larger - but generally a structurally-sized column looks too small to the eye anyway. You can also build it into the middle of a decorative curio column or mirror surround or plant or CD/DVD storage tower or such, or the middle support of a double arch if that looks better for your decor, even if an intermediate column is not needed there - and for a 10-12 foot span usually it can readily be done with a free span without intermediate column. There are also 2-part decorative fiberglass, acrylic, and resin columns of various designs (latin, greek, roman, fake wood, etc) made to be put around pipes and ducts and fire standpipes and such for just this purpose (commercial items used mostly in public buildings and hotels and such) - you can also build a fake finished wood column around a pipe if desired. I have seen one where they turned the facade around a forced air vent into a panelled and corkboard family photo gallery and collage. There is even one rather garish hotel that had "lava lamp" type surrounds made to go around utility ducts and pipes and such in their foyer/atrium area, and some of the Vegas hotels have fancy columns and such reflecting their decor around support columns and utility runs that could not reasonably be moved out of the large open floor areas, or were run into when they open multiple areas up into an open floorplan. An architect should be able to help with concept ideas and design on things like that, if desired. I would not recommned, however, the one I saw where they actually incorporated a main support column in the middle of a ceiling-height fishtank - nightmare when it cracks or leaks because of variations in the load on the beam causing movements of the tank seams.

Of course, if you want that to be all open space, rerouting the plumbing is the solution - pretty easy if just a vent stack say from a washer or sink. If actual drain stack from upper floor bathrooms or such then you are into more work - probably more like typically $1000-2000 very rough ballpark additional to do that with a full stack (assuming wood or steel stud frame construction and wood floor joists). Almost certainly cheaper to leave the pipe there and build a real or fake column (or surrounding architectural element) there than to relocate it - but the aesthetics may well make the decision for you.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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