Sledge hammer

Updated: Jun 21, 2019

Removing walls in condos.

Have you ever been condo-hunting and found a small kitchen separated by a wall from the living and dining rooms? That's when you think how perfect it would be to open up that wall to create an open concept, just like they do on those HGTV programs. How hard could it be to remove a wall? All you need is a sledge hammer, a mask and some safety goggles. You are already imagining the dinner parties with all your friends in your new beautiful condo.

Your realtor, in their helpful way, reads your mind and begins to tap on the wall to listen for hollow sounds and determines that it is not a solid wall and says, "Yes, it's not a solid wall!" 

Sorry, you really need to STOP DREAMING. WAKE UP!

Your realtor does not know what's behind that wall unless they have Xray vision and an engineering degree. It's true, that walls can be removed in condos but it is a lot more complicated than taking a sledge hammer to the wall and opening it up. Often those walls are load bearing walls, meaning that they are carrying the walls and floors of the condos above and it ties into the way the weight is carried in the condos below. In addition to carrying weight, that wall probably has vents from this condo and maybe also the units below and pipes and electrical inside of it. If the wall is removed, all of the other stuff still has to be dealt with. 

So although it's possible to remove a wall, it's pretty important to know what's inside there before you begin to dream of the finished product. There is also the concern that units above and below you may have already removed that wall and so it's important to know this information too, before proceeding. If the units below have removed the wall and not done it properly, it may not be possible to remove. Likewise with units above.

You need a structural engineer to help you to determine this. You also need permits from the city. 

You also need council's permission which will likely be dependent on you hiring a structural engineer and getting city permits. 

It's a time consuming process and can get very expensive. Removing the wall will require hiring the engineer to do site visits and drawings. A contractor or you to submit the application to the city and to do the demolition and structural supports. An electrician to reroute the electrical. A plumber to reroute the pipes and vents. A finishing carpenter to do the rest including drywall and baseboards. It can be done for $6,000 but more realistically between $8k-$10k. If you can do some of the work yourself, that will help but you have to be sure that the contractor is ok with this, and contractors generally don't like for their customers to be involved in their work because of their insurance. And also, clients who are not experienced can add a lot of time to a project. 

So, before you get too excited about removing condo walls, keep in mind that it's a complicated process. It's totally worth it because open spaces make a condo feel bigger and more modern and if you have the will and desire and some deep pockets, it is possible to do.

Just be realistic about the process.

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