July 03, 2013 AT 9:35 AM
Knocking through back in fashion
Millions of homeowners will once more be opting to improve, rather than move in 2013, preferring to have work done, rather than face the obstacle of obtaining a mortgage — and paying stamp duty. Some families will still opt to add space by building an extension. But the expense of such projects is making knocking through even more popular: this produces the feeling of extra space at a much lower cost.
While knock-throughs were not so long ago limited largely to the creation of eat-in kitchens, or the removal of one wall between two reception rooms, builders are reporting an increase in the demolition of even more ground-floor walls. This may mean the loss of a hallway but it also creates the giant open space that remains the aspiration of many households. Almost tempted to wield the hammer yourself? Here are the 10 things that you need to know before you join the hole-in-the wall gang.
1. What do I need to start?
Find a reputable builder, either via a friend’s recommendation or a ratings site such as ratedpeople.com. Ask to see examples of similar jobs. You also need a structural engineer, but most builders have their own contacts and will include an engineer’s work in their quote. Get more than one quote before you start. Larger companies often charge more, sometimes as much as double, but you may feel more comfortable using something with a shopfront. Remember that altering the structure of your property is not to be undertaken lightly and requires a professional.
2. How much will it cost?
Dermot Steedman, a London builder, (ratedpeople.com/profile/dermarta) says that removing the wall between two reception rooms in a typical three-bedroom terraced Victorian property would cost at least £2,000 and would go up to a minimum of £4,000 for removal of all the hallway walls. Moving coving, skirting, electrics or plumbing would incur additional costs. If you are concerned about the age of the plumbing or electrics you will also have to pay for a specialist inspection.
3. What does my builder mean by ‘load-bearing wall’?
Load-bearing walls are the structural elements of a house, which transfer a load between two points and down to the foundations. Steel beams are inserted where walls are removed to take the load, and are then covered in plaster. By contrast, stud partition walls, made from a timber frame overlaid with plasterboard, are non-load-bearing and easy to remove. The structural engineer will be able to tell you which is which.
4. Do I need planning permission?
No. Unlike an extension, the removal of internal walls needs no planning permission, which means that it is a great way of creating more space without the wait. However, you do need to apply to your council for Building Regulations Approval (normally between £100 and £200), giving a building control inspector at least 48 hours’ notice to come and inspect the beam once it has been inserted.
5. Do I need to obtain any other authorisation?
If you are planning to insert one of the steel beams into a wall that is shared with another building, you will need a Party Wall Agreement drawn up by your solicitor. This will also need to be agreed to by your neighbour, a process that can add significant waiting time and hundreds or even thousands of pounds to the cost. Alternatively, you could build columns jutting out of the wall and in the centre of the room in which to insert the beams, as this would not require permission.
6. How long will it take?
Usually the process will take about one week per wall, although this does not include additional time for drying out plaster (in the cold this will take longer), laying new floors or redecorating. This type of work will also cause substantial dust and disruption while it is being carried out.
Article taken from The Times.