Cost of having an Internal Wall Removed

All you need to know about removing an internal wall including costs of materials, costs of labour and time frames.

internal wall removal

What the job entails

There are several walls that could be removed inside a typical house for different reasons, but by far the most common walls to remove are those between the kitchen and dining room and the living room. The stud wall underneath a staircase is the next most common wall to be removed but this isn't often a load bearing wall so is much cheaper and easier to do, even as a DIY project.

To knock through an internal load bearing wall between an existing dining room/kitchen and a front room or lounge, requires an initial inspection by a builder to check electrics, pipework and the load. Followed by an inspection by a structural engineer who will calculate the correct rating for the load bearing joist that will support the upper floor (the RSJ).

Then the wall is removed after approval by building control and the RSJ is fitted. In addition to the labour and material costs, there will be professional fees and likely skip hire too. There may also be additional work needed such as moving electrical sockets or wiring, moving radiators and associated plumbing, removing/replacing flooring/carpets, and painting & decorating to finish the room.

There are some related jobs that may need doing at same time, for example the radiator layout will likely not be suitable for the new larger area so you will probably need to at least move a radiator, if not add an additional radiator to ensure a comfortable temperature. You may also find that the light switch positions and the lights themselves are no longer optimal and will need also need moving. New flooring will be needed too so budget for carpets or laminate etc.

When removing a wall, it's important to realise that the two side walls may not line up exactly, so a patch repair or full re-plaster will often have to be done. In old houses even the two floor levels either side of the all now removed may not quite match, so now extra work will be involved at extra cost. Remember that the party wall is effectively jointly owned so any changes will be subject to a party wall agreement. Removing a load bearing wall can affect the structural strength of the building so an engineer will need to inspect the wall and offer advice. Cutting into a party wall requires even more structural checks and associated fees, plus any damage made to the other side of the wall will need to be fixed at your expense.

There are a number of things which could go wrong and increase the cost of removing a wall, but as long as you use a reputable builder and liaise with building control, everything should be fine. Alternatively, if you are planning to remove the wall yourself, use a structural engineer to advise you on the job, especially with regard to the support (RSJ) required to ensure no problems. As always, your location will affect the price too, if you are in the South East of the country, especially London, then you will pay more to reflect the higher cost of living/labour costs.

Load Bearing Wall Removal Cost

Typically, around £1500-£1750, though quotes will vary enormously depending on location and the size of the building company doing the job. This estimate does not include additional costs such as installing an additional radiator (£250) or moving an existing radiator (£150). Moving light switches and power sockets (£150-£300). Nor will the quote normally cover new flooring/carpets or decoration. Party wall agreement legal costs can add an additional £200 to £300, and this assumes that agreement can be reached without excessive negotiation.

Most builders charge around £200-£300 per day and will always work in pairs especially on jobs such as this. A structural engineer will also have to be involved in order to calculate the required strength of RSJ, as well as a plasterer to finish the job.

Here are a few average costs for hiring a tradesman company to remove a load bearing wall:

Job Description Avg. Cost Duration
Single doorway - around 1m £1250 1-1.5 days
Double doorway - around 2m £1500 1.5-2 days
Large open plan - around 4m £1750 2 days


Cost Breakdown

Individual costs for hiring a company to remove a 4m load bearing wall - Total Cost: £1750

30%

Materials
£525

60%

Tradesmen
£1050

10%

Waste Removal
£175

FAQ's

It obviously depends on the wall but if you allow a couple of days for a typical load bearing wall that should be about right. On day one the existing wall is removed and the RSJ is inserted for safety. Then all the waste is carted to the skip. The second day should see all the plastering and minor finishing work completed. If you require other trades such as electricians or plumbers, then add an additional day or two.
Knocking through interior walls is popular as it is a great way to create a feeling of light and extra space. Taking out the wall separating the kitchen and the living room can dramatically improve the layout and is much cheaper than building a new extension. However, any job involving demolition is going to come with a number of caveats. For a start, internal walls can play an important role in holding the building up, so knocking them out can be structurally unwise!

That being said, taking down internal walls isn't an activity that normally requires planning permission, unless a listed building. Never the less, a Building Regulations application must be made so Building Control can inspect the work and issue a completion certificate. In almost all cases consulting a structural engineer to design a suitable beam or supporting structure is highly recommended.
Some internal walls are fundamental to the structure whereas others just divide up the interior space. Depending on the age of the property, the internal walls can be solid masonry or lightweight timber stud construction. Older, pre-1970's homes tend to have solid masonry walls, whereas newer properties use stud walls except when load bearing - though in some cases even stud walls can be load bearing too!

It is a common saying that you can tell if a wall is load bearing just by tapping it and checking for a hollow sound, if hollow it is a stud wall and can be removed without any support - unfortunately it is not that easy! If you are unsure, the best thing to do is to consult a structural engineer or building surveyor to be on the safe side. Though in any case you will need to consult Building Control.