Should I Tear Down a Wall to Open Up My Floor Plan?

You’ve probably noticed how popular open floor plans have become. People seem to be knocking down walls and opening up space on every home renovation TV show, in every city, on every block. The benefits of an open floor plan are pretty clear: Your living space seems amplified, and your lifestyle seems more open. Big, open spaces are also great for multi-purpose use. A larger, open space can have different “areas” for different purposes, but can also be converted to multiple functions (entertaining, studying, relaxing, office work, etc.) as needed.

People have been wondering whether open floor plans represent a passing trend in the home renovation industry, or whether they’re here to stay. With every passing year, it seems as though open floor plans are an exciting option that isn’t going away anytime soon. As the price of property increases (especially in urban areas) and people learn to live with less square footage, open floor plans make more sense. They allow the same area to be used any number of ways, while creating a more spacious and roomy atmosphere.

But before you grab a sledgehammer and start tearing down walls, it’s important to ask a number of questions about your goals, your neighborhood, and the infrastructure of your home. Tearing down walls under the wrong circumstances can be a costly mistake.

Are you eliminating a bedroom?

Often times, people have a small den or bedroom that isn’t getting much use, and they decide to eliminate it by knocking down walls and opening up the floor plan. But according to many real estate experts, this can hurt your property value. The important thing to know is that your property value is connected to the other homes in your neighborhood. If the average home on your block has three bedrooms, and your home also has three bedrooms, you’ll suddenly find yourself below the average when you knock out that wall and open up your floor plan. Be aware of how your home will change “on paper” as well is in reality.

Have you consulted an expert?

People often have the impulse to grab a sledgehammer and start demolishing that unwanted wall. After all, how hard can it be?

Except this is not a very good idea at all. Walls can be load bearing — that is, structurally vital to the home itself. They can also contain electric wiring, plumbing, and/or ducts for heating and cooling. You don’t want to run into water pipes or electrical currents with that swinging hammer.

There’s also the question of re-finishing the floor and walls after a wall has been knocked out. The average homeowner doesn’t have the skills and tools necessary to accomplish this.

The bottom line

There are a number of things to think about when you’re considering wall removal to open up space. It’s a big decision in terms of your home, and it’s always better to proceed with caution. Find a home renovation expert with plenty of experience and positive reviews. Talk to a real estate specialist about possible effects on your market value. Once you’ve answered all the important questions, enjoy the process of opening up your floor plan!