Removing a wall? How to destroy your home with 4 mistakes.
Been binge-watching reno shows on HGTV? In your television-dazed mind, you may feel like you’ve seen enough to convince yourself that you too can knock a wall down, creating an open layout. No problem. So now you’ve been daydreaming about taking a sledgehammer to that wall dividing your kitchen and living room. There are few things more satisfying to a reno junkie than watching a room transform before your eyes in the span of an hour, but don’t let the magic of television lull you into forgetting that renovations can be very complex. If you’re not careful, you may end up like the unfortunate owner of a Roncesvalles home in Toronto whose house partially collapsed while it was under renovations. Sadly, this cautionary tale did not have a happy ending – far from it, as the home had to be demolished.
Whether you are renovating to update a fixer-upper, looking to add more value to your home or modernize an investment property, here are four mistakes to avoid so you don’t destroy your home.
1. Don’t overestimate your skills – get a professional consultation
2. Don’t wing it – get an architect to draw up a plan
3. Don’t just hire anyone – research contractors carefully
4. Don’t hire a good handyman – get someone who specializes in taking walls out
Before you pick up that sledgehammer, consult with a structural engineer. Regardless of how much renovation experience you may have, the old adage applies – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You may think you know the difference between a load-bearing wall and a non-load-bearing wall, but frankly, the consequences of a mistake can be far more expensive than it would have cost you to pay a professional for a consultation. Your load-bearing wall may also contain wiring and plumbing (or even toxic materials like lead or asbestos), making its removal even more complex. If you’re doing any type of renovation that may affect the structural integrity of your house, always start with a professional assessment.
You need a plan. That means contacting an architect to put together a plan you’re happy with. (A good contractor or interior decorator will also draft a plan for you.) Having an idea in your head or a Pinterest board of what you’re looking for is a great start, but it’s not a plan. Often, a home owner will make changes after they’ve seen a mock-up of what their finished project will look like, so engaging an expert to draft a professional plan will also give you the freedom and flexibility to tweak things before you begin.
Always, always, always, do your homework when deciding to hire a contractor. People who are in a rush to renovate might hire a contractor too quickly, and end up with unprofessional results that cost them thousands to fix. If you don’t have any luck finding a certain type of contractor via referrals from your loved ones, or your own research, try asking another contractor who may be currently working in your home. Electricians often know plumbers, and architects often know painters, and so on. Faris Team clients have access to a list of preferred vendors that you can take advantage of so be sure to talk to your Realtor® if you’ve recently bought a home you’d like to update. It may seem like a daunting task, and you may be on a tight timeline, but it is best to slow down and take the time to find a professional contractor who will get the job done right the first time. No matter who you hire, always ask if they are insured and make sure you check several references.
Perhaps you didn’t find your contractor in a dark alley somewhere. You may have recently hired someone to do a bathroom reno once and they did a fabulous job, but replacing a bathroom vanity and flooring isn’t usually as complex a job as knocking walls down to create an open layout. Once you have your plan in mind, don’t just hire a good handyman, make sure you find a contractor that has a lot of experience removing walls and creating the kind of space you are looking for.