Open plan designs are all the rage for homeowners and would-be renovators, but creating more space in your home is a little more complicated than just picking up a sledgehammer. You may have heard that you need a structural engineer’s report before you can start knocking down walls in your home, or that it is essential to get a contractor to do the work.
There’s a lot of conflicting advice on the topic, so here’s what you need to know with regards to requiring a structural engineer to remove your walls.
Identifying the wall
The first step to identifying whether you need a structural engineer to remove a wall is to identify what type of wall it is. If the wall is not load-bearing, then it shouldn’t be a problem to remove, provided you know what you’re doing and take all the necessary precautions.
If, however, the wall is load-bearing, you may need to get help from a structural engineer who can provide you with a structural engineer’s report. If you are unsure what a load-bearing wall is, or don’t know how to identify them, you can read more about them in our previous blog.
Why do you need a Structural Engineer to remove walls?
Any load-bearing wall that is removed needs to be replaced with a structural beam to continue to support the floors above. These beams are usually steel (commonly referred to as RSJ) but can be timber or concrete, depending on construction type, spans and loadings. Constructing these reinforcements requires precise calculations regarding the required load, which is the speciality of structural engineers. There are a few reasons why you might need a structural engineer’s assistance before removing a load-bearing wall:
Planning Permission and Building Regulations
Unless your property is a listed building, you will not need planning permission to remove any interior walls. However, if you are removing a load-bearing wall, you will need building regulation approval from a qualified inspector.
Usually, the removal of a load-bearing wall can be completed with a building notice, but the inspector may instruct you to hire a structural engineer who can specify an appropriate beam or lintel before they will grant approval.
If you don’t get a structural engineer to do the calculations required to safely remove a load-bearing wall, you may have difficulty selling your house later on.
Whilst you may speak to contractors who are confident they can do the calculations themselves before removing the wall and installing the new beams, potential buyers may not feel comfortable purchasing a home that has had such an alteration without a structural engineer’s report.
Peace of Mind
Structural engineers are specialists in designing the strength, stability, and practicality of buildings, so you can be sure that any calculations or drawings that come from a qualified structural engineer are accurate and professional.
While some contractors may have similar skills, you can rest assured that any work you undertake under the guidance of a structural engineer’s plans will be of the highest quality.
The type of wall you are planning on removing will determine whether you need the help of a structural engineer or not, but remember that any structural renovations you undertake on your home should always be done with careful forethought and preparation, and will always benefit from the help of a professional.