Many people decide that knocking down a load-bearing internal wall is the way forward when modernising their home. You can better use the available space and daylight in your property by knocking through a kitchen and dining room or providing additional doorways.
The average cost of removing a load-bearing wall in the UK ranges from £1300-£1800 to knock down the wall, while concrete lintels cost around £85/m, and steel RSJs cost £300/m.
Load-bearing wall removal is full of rules and regulations designed to make your home safe for your family and future occupants. This guide explains the rules and gives links to official sources. It provides pricing information for householders to know the cost to remove a supporting wall and explains the benefits and pitfalls of the project. You can also decide what lintel is needed when making a doorway and how to knock down an external load-bearing wall when building an extension.
Cost to Remove a Load Bearing Wall*
A load-bearing wall can be almost any length and support any weight. The table below shows estimated costs and durations for some of the most common situations where you might remove all or part of a load-bearing wall. Compare it to your project as a simple calculator.
|Wall Size||Estimated Cost||Duration|
|Single Doorway – 1m lintel Beam||£1,000||8-12 hours|
|Double Doorway – 2m RSJ Beam||£1,400||12-16 hours|
|Large Open Plan Room – 4m RSJ Beam Installation||£2,400||12-16 hours|
|Arrange a Party Wall Agreement||£100-£1,000|
|Structural Engineers Inspection||£200/visit|
* We compiled these estimated prices for knocking down an internal wall from various online resources to guide your research. Every house is different, and you should hire a qualified structural engineer and an experienced general builder for accurate quotes. Probably, the best way is to use the form found on this page.
The following are some cost factors associated with knocking down a load-bearing wall.
Architect, Structural Engineer & Building Control
Removing a load-bearing wall must be done in compliance with the law, with lintels and beams specified to support the load above. You must also notify the Building Control team and submit plans for their inspection along with a structural engineer’s calculations. Building Control will also inspect the work at agreed stages. They will issue a completion certificate as proof of compliance with the regulations at the project’s end. This costs £250-£450, including building inspection.
Therefore, use an architect for the plans, a structural engineer for calculations, and an experienced building contractor for the manual work. Most architects have a favourite structural engineer with whom they work all the time. So, find an architect, and they will commission the calculations and liaise with the council-appointed inspector and your contractor. Both the architect’s and structural engineer’s fee depends on your location and the job’s size. Usually, they both charge a percentage of the overall project price. However, they will probably charge a fixed fee for a small job like removing a wall. Typically, a structural engineer charges about £200.
Moving lights and sockets
There’s a good chance that the structural wall contains electrical cables feeding sockets, and light switches. If so, these must be removed and rerouted elsewhere. As the job involves installing new wires, you must use a qualified electrician, who charges £150-£300.
Sometimes you must move a radiator before demolition. Use a registered plumber or heating engineer for this job. Remember that the new room will be larger than before, so you might need a new radiator to heat a larger space. If the boiler has enough capacity for the new radiator and new pipework isn’t necessary, installation costs around £150. Otherwise, you must buy and fit a higher capacity boiler.
Demolition generates waste rubble which you must dispose of. Usually, the contractor includes this in the quote. But if not, you pay about £200 plus waste skip, which can be from £100-£300 depending on the amount of waste.
Replacing a wall
When an RSJ supports upper floors and walls, you might want to replace the demolished wall with a stud partition. Replacing a load-bearing wall with a stud partition costs £100-£150/m2.
You can insert doors and frames into a load-bearing wall or a stud partition, as long as you’ve inserted a lintel or RSJ above. To insert a new interior door lining and door costs about £80, plus the door’s cost.
When you’ve removed the wall, there is a gap in the flooring that must be filled. Replacing joists and wooden flooring costs around £15-£85/m2. Furthermore, in older houses especially, the floors on each side of the wall are sometimes at different levels. In this case, it’s often cheaper and easier to remove the floor, adjust the joists and add new flooring rather than repair it. Additionally, tile and laminate cost from £5-£20/m2, and carpet costs £10-£60/m2.
Party Wall Agreement
If you live in a semi-detached or terraced house, you might interfere with a jointly owned wall, known as a Party Wall. This is a legal matter, and you need a qualified surveyor to handle the situation and complete a Party Wall Agreement. The surveyor charges £100-£250/hr. But, the agreement can be straightforward or not, depending on your neighbour’s co-operation. Therefore, the total can be anything from £100-£1000. On top of this, you must make good any damage to the party wall and pay for more structural checks.
Load-Bearing Internal Wall Removal Process
Removing a load-bearing wall requires knowledge and experience to prevent severe damage to your property. Also, you need various structural inspections before a qualified engineer calculates the supported loads. Only then can demolition take place.
Removing a structural wall cannot be done as a DIY project. Instead, use the services of at least a structural engineer, local authority inspectors, and an experienced general builder. Therefore, the following steps are provided for your information, not as a guide to removing the wall.
We can assume that a structural engineer has inspected the building and has specified a suitable RSJ to support the upstairs rooms.
Remove cables & pipes
Decommission electric cables, central heating pipes, and other services that may interfere with the demolition. Only use qualified and certified electricians, plumbers and heating engineers.
Isolate the demolition area
Spread dust sheets and plastic sheeting over the floor and seal doors with tape and plastic sheets to minimise air-born masonry dust.
Remove some of the ceiling plasterboards to a distance of approximately 45cm from the wall. Removing plasterboard exposes joists, cables and pipes. Thus, allowing easy access to the top of the wall. Ensure all exposed screws and nails are removed or hammered flush into the joists before continuing.
Insert Acrow props
First, you need to support the ceiling. Lift a piece of timber, the entire wall length, and place it against the ceiling joists, temporarily securing it in place with woodscrews.
Erect an Acrow prop at each end of the timber, and add two or three spread out evenly along its length. Ensure the Acrows are vertical and screwed as tight as possible to support the ceiling and floor above. Repeat on the other side of the wall. As a precaution, temporarily fix the Acrow plates to the timber and floor using screws.
Remove timber mouldings
Remove woodwork such as door frames, architrave, and skirting board.
Remove the upper wall
Slowly remove the plaster, bricks, or blocks above head height, starting from the top of the wall. Loose masonry from this area is a hazard and must be dealt with safely. So, protect the floor from falling masonry by covering the surface with cheap plasterboard. Also, operatives must wear a hard hat, steel toecap boots, protective gloves and a dust mask from now on.
If you have a door or window in the load-bearing wall, they will have a lintel. Hack away the mortar and brick holding the lintel in place until it’s loose. Concrete and steel lintels are heavy. Therefore, you need two or more people to lift the lintel onto the floor.
Remove the remainder of the wall
With all lintels lowered and disposed of, continue to remove the masonry, piece by piece. And finish one brick course before starting on the next one. Remove decommissioned cables and pipes as they become available. Continue to remove the wall until it is a few centimetres below floor level.
Prepare RSJ position
Remove brickwork in the outside supporting walls to create a small pocket to a depth of 150mm large enough to accommodate each end of the RSJ.
Mix some concrete and build a padstone in each pocket at the right height for the RSJ.
Lift and insert the RSJ
The RSJ has either a rectangular or ɪ cross-section and should have the long axis vertical after the following operation. You will need two or more people to help, depending on the size and weight of the RSJ.
Position one end of the RSJ at the pocket opening, with the long cross-sectional axis horizontal. Lift and slide the RSJ into the pocket while lifting the other end to the ceiling. Use additional Acrow props or lengths of timber to act as temporary props if necessary.
Slide the RSJ into the second pocket. Adjust its position so at least 100mm of the RSJ rests on the padstone at each end. Finally, rotate the RSJ so the long cross-sectional axis is vertical.
Lift RSJ to ceiling joists
Using two Acrow props, lift the RSJ at each end until it touches the timber joists. Use a spirit level to keep the RSJ horizontal. Ensure that at least 100mm of RSJ protrudes into the pocket and sits above the padstone. If necessary, hammer folding wedges into gaps between the RSJ and individual joists.
Make-good damaged brickwork
When the RSJ is in position, use bricks and mortar to fill the gaps between padstone and steel. Then, fill the remainder of the pocket with mortar and brick so the RSJ cannot move. At the same time, repair holes in the wall using bricks and mortar. Finally, replaster the new brickwork.
When the mortar has set, remove all Acrow props and tidy up.
Box in the new RSJ
For the RSJ to comply with the local authority’s fire regulations, it must be made fireproof. Use two layers of 12mm thick plasterboard to cover all exposed steel surfaces and make good the damaged plasterboard on either side of the RSJ. Alternatively, for a continuous surface without a protruding RSJ, built a suspended ceiling below the RSJ.
Repair the floor
It’s common in old houses for the floor level in adjacent rooms to be at slightly different levels. Without the dividing wall, this height difference becomes apparent.
If there’s a slight floor level difference, say millimetres or a centimetre or so, it’s no problem for a carpenter to level the floors. However, if the height difference is more significant than this, you should think of a way to create a design feature. Alternatively, remove both floors, level the floor joists and lay new flooring.
As you can imagine, the time taken to remove an existing structural wall, insert an RSJ and repair damage will vary depending on the size of the wall and the project’s complexity. However, if everything goes to plan, the task shouldn’t take longer than a week to complete.
Signs Your Wall Is Load-Bearing
Sometimes it’s not easy to ascertain whether a wall is load-bearing. Many dubious methods are appearing on internet DIY forums. But, not all are correct, so watch out!
As a rule of thumb, if the floor and ceiling joists run parallel to the wall, the wall is POSSIBLY NOT load-bearing. However, there might be added complications if partially removed chimney stacks, support piers, columns, and other features are present. The only sure-fire way is to ask the advice of a structural engineer or an experienced general builder.
If you’re dealing with an external wall, always assume it’s load-bearing until proven otherwise.
Why Remove a Load Bearing Wall?
There are many reasons to remove a load-bearing wall. The most common is to open up your living space and create more light.
Open plan kitchen
Many people want to extend their kitchen into the dining room to create more kitchen space while not being shut away from the family and guests at mealtimes.
When building extensions to your home, you often have to demolish internal or external load-bearing walls to access the new space.
Adding doors & windows
If you want extra doors into a room, add a window into an existing wall, or remove an external window to create french doors, you must remove brickwork and insert a lintel to support the wall above.
Many homeowners or investors want to increase their property’s value. Reconfiguring a property’s layout by removing or moving load-bearing walls can create extra bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms, kitchen-diners and study/hobby rooms.
Planning Permission, Building Control & Compliance UK
You don’t usually require planning permission when demolishing internal walls as it comes under your permitted development rights.
However, there are two main exceptions:
- If your home is a listed building, you must apply for listed planning permission. Search for listed buildings throughout the UK using the British Listed Buildings website if you aren’t sure. To apply for listed planning permission, you must pay a fee, usually about £200.
- If your development is within a conservation area, you must apply for permission.
Furthermore, if you want to remove an external load-bearing wall, you usually want to replace it with something else. The addition might require planning permission if it changes the outside appearance. Check with your local authority before starting.
Even if you don’t need planning permission, you must always comply with the relevant Building Regulations.
Load-bearing walls are an integral part of the structural stability of your property. And if you don’t take necessary precautions, the property might collapse, causing severe damage, injury or death.
You must apply for a Building Notice from your local Building Control office for load-bearing walls. Paying for the building inspection costs a maximum of £650 for a wall of under 10m2, which includes the required checks. Also, you must submit the structural engineer’s calculations and recommendations, proving you have a suitable plan to make the structure safe. When you’ve finished the work and passed the required inspections, the local authority will issue a Completion Certificate. This certificate proves the work complies with the regulations. You must lodge the certificate with the property’s deeds if you decide to sell. And let your insurance company know the property is safe by sending them a copy of the certificate.
The RSJ must comply with the fire regulations (Part B) of the Building Regulations.
- An RSJ must have 30-minutes fire resistance. Therefore, you should cover it with at least two layers of 12mm plasterboard.
- If the beam or lintel is timber, the structural engineer must calculate its fire resistance. Usually, this means making the cross-section larger than usual or impregnating the wood with fireproofing chemicals.
- If the lintel is concrete, then it’s already fire-resistant. However, steel reinforcing must be adequately covered and protected from fire.
If you intend to add new doors, ensure they are fire-resistant and self-closing. Check with the local authority for details on what is required.
Party Wall Agreement
If you live in a semi-detached or terraced house, you share some of your walls with a neighbour. If your project affects a shared wall, you must enter into a Party Wall Agreement before work commences. Appoint a qualified surveyor to prepare the agreement and submit it to your neighbour on your behalf. This professional charges from £100 to £250/hr for this work. Typically, the total cost of a party wall agreement ranges from £100 to £1000. But, it’s usually around £250. You must submit this notice at least two months before work starts.
Is it worth removing a load-bearing wall?
This answer depends on whether it’s necessary for the proposed project. No one demolishes a wall for fun. It’s expensive, messy, and, if carried out incorrectly, causes severe damage to your property. However, it’s worth every penny if you need to remove a load-bearing wall for improvements.
Do I need a structural engineer to remove a load-bearing wall?
Suppose you intend to remove a load-bearing wall from your property. In that case, you must notify Building Control, who will also require a structural engineer’s calculations and their recommendation on size and type of RSJ, beam or lintel.
Who can check if a wall is load-bearing?
A competent and experienced general builder can often tell you whether the wall is load-bearing. But, always confirm this with a structural engineer or surveyor.
How big can an opening be in a load-bearing wall?
You can only have an opening in a load-bearing wall if you can adequately support the load above. Only a structural engineer can calculate this load and specify the correct dimensions of an RSJ, beam or lintel.
Deciding to wholly or partially demolish a load-bearing wall is a job for the professional. Not only do you need a skilled and experienced general building contractor, but you must also find a structural engineer.
Just complete the form on this page, and we can put you in touch with up to four appropriate professionals so you can compare the internal load-bearing wall removal costs from start to finish.