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Question DetailsAsked on 10/12/2017

rough estimate for removing loadbearing wall and most of the former exterior wall?

We are interested in purchasing a home that has had a family room addition on to the the back of the house. The former brick exterior has been placed under drywall with a couple doors in between. There is a kitchen that backs up to a bedroom that we'd like to take down. The wall between the kitchen & bedroom is loadbearing. We'd like to open up both walls so it's all open. I'm fine with an exposed beam or not or even a pillar of necessary. We are in Chicago. Is this a $5k issue or a $40k issue? Any help on this would be great. We love this house outside of how closed off it feels in that portion. Thanks!

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Depends on how much load it bears and whether it is a shear load carrying wall or not, how long a beam you are talking about, underlying foundation or soil conditions to bear the load of the new end columns, etc. Your best bet, especially as you are going to have to include this cost in your figuring what this remodel-after-purchase will cost, is get an Architect on board (who will undoubtedly bring in a Structural Engineer to figure the load-bearing issues) to do at least a conceptual design and construction cost for all the work you want done.

Totally off the cuff without having seen the situation, so REALLY a WAG - for what you are talking about, with sounds like brick wall constrution (assuming actual structural brick, not just brick facade on wood studwall construction), I would say $5,000 is not in the normal expected range. Maybe, maybe not up to $40,000 (or more) range - but assuming this is a two-story house and this wall is on ground floor, I would be thinking more likely in the upper half of a $0 - $50,000 window, not in the lower half or at least not by much. If one-story house, then $15,000-25,000 complete (including redoing damage to finishes) might be in the realm - but so much depends on what that wall is supporting and what interfacing siding and roof work will be needed to tie it all together.

One other issue that commonly comes up in cases like this is matching flooring through the roughly 5-12 inch strip that the wall currently occupies. Some people put in an accent strip or accordion doors or very wide transition strip or such, but if you are looking at making a true match across that strip sometimes you are looking at redoing an entire room of flooring to get a match - which depending on type of flooring can get expensive at times.

Whatever you decide, bear in mind that without plans from an architect and an actual bid from a general contractor which is good for at least 3 months after the planned closing date (to allow for any delays), you will not have a true cost for the project in hand, so bear in mind if this makes a difference in the decision to buy this house. And any estimate which is not a true bid (including permit cost and architect/engineer fees and such) I would put a 20-30% contingency on - maybe 10-15% on any true bid, so you hopefully don't come up short come actual work time.

Of course, getting plans and a true bid (or even ballpark contractor estimate) in the amount of time usually available for making your decision before someone else puts an offer on the house commonly leaves you with just an off-the-cuff from an architect after a structural engineer tells him whether this is a simple load transfer beam situation or something more. And this sort of remodel cost estimate thing is NOT usually included in the post-offer inspection contingency timeframe and VERY few owners will allow you to include this sort of remodel/improvement decision as a contingency because it leave them hanging on basically your whim.

So sometimes an architect walkthrough with a general contractor he recommends (who should be compensated for his time since he would not be committed to at this time) and off-the-cuff construction and engineering cost estimate will be all you have to go on (plus the contingencies) - so bear in mind how much of a difference the amount of the estimate makes on your decision to buy and on your financial situation, and whether you would possibly be happy with the house without the open floor plan if the ultiomate expense gets too high.

Good luck in your new home, whichever it turns out to be.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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