It was more popular years ago to have separate spaces in your home. Four or five rooms downstairs and four or five rooms upstairs, for example. Nowadays, however, most people are looking for open floor plans, where the kitchen flows smoothly into the dining and living areas. There are a lot of benefits to building an open concept home, like feeling more connected when spending time with family or entertaining, but remodeling a home that wasn’t originally designed like this in order to experience an open space isn’t always easy.
Particularly when it comes to the remodeling of older homes, it’s important to think about the mechanics behind building an open floor plan. Anytime you are removing walls, the engineering of your home and the materials needed to do this successfully are both things you have to take into consideration.
How to Remodel for an Open Concept Home
When remodeling an older home, opening up the space will include taking down walls. One of these walls is probably load-bearing. If you’ve ever watched a home improvement show, you’ve heard the term “load-bearing wall” and know how tricky they can be. This isn’t just a ploy for drama in the show. A load-bearing wall is exactly what it sounds like: a wall that helps hold up the load of the second floor and roof. Rather than just work around that wall, it is possible for a contractor to replace it with a beam or pillar.
This is not a be-all-end-all solution, however. In many, but not all, cases, it is possible to remove the wall, but you have to take a close look at the engineering. With a wall, the load is spread out across the length of the wall. With a beam, however, you will have a point load, or a single point in your wall that bears the load. You have to make sure the load can transfer to the foundation or to the basement floor because the beam can’t just bear upon the closest floor to it. That will cause a dip and be potentially dangerous.
The Cost of an Open Concept Remodel
Remodeling an older home to have an open concept living space requires a lot more caution than designing and building a new home that way in the first place, but it can be done. It’s done all the time by remodelers and it’s one of the main things we accomplished in a recent project.
Building the beam to the basement, however, may also mean cutting into the basement floor to put a footer in to carry the load. This is why you can’t usually get a clear-cut cost to remove a load-bearing wall without a closer look by a professional like us. You never know what’s going on behind the walls and under the floor until you get in there and see. It’s not just a matter of “can it be done,” but also a matter of “how will it be done.”
Keep in mind that depending on the construction of your home, costs can add up, and if problems are discovered, it may not be possible. If the feature can be accomplished, however, the top beam will often sit lower than the ceiling and more than one or two point loads may be necessary—this could mean columns in your space instead of a clear sightline. Everything depends on your home’s walls, floors, and mechanics as well as the materials used.
Are you interested in remodeling your home into an open floor plan? What do you know about the walls you’d like to move? What about your basement floor? Don’t stop there. Talk with an expert. We can offer you a free assessment of your remodeling project. Just click here!
Want to see more on our building techniques in action? Check out this video for an inside look at how to achieve an open concept in your home. Watch now.