The Ultimate Guide to RSJ Installation & Knocking Down Internal Walls
For those renovating a home, there is one approach which is more effective than most: knocking down internal walls. A gloomy and disjointed layout can be transformed into a vivid, open plan one. Yet before any removal work, you must know the structural role of any walls you plan to eliminate.
When it comes to a renovator’s ‘to-do list’, few jobs are deemed as important as analysing which internal walls can be knocked down. As a premier builder in Salisbury, we understand this all too well. Whenever we walk into a full renovation project, our first thought is: Which walls should stay, and which should go?
This is particularly the case when working on a period property. This type of home is one that usually features an assortment of small rooms, all with their own specific purpose. When their internal walls are removed – either partially or fully – it helps replace the small rooms with large, open-plan spaces that are multifunctional. Not to mention it is a great method for promoting more natural light.
Besides, internal wall removal is necessary for any extension work to a building. However, before any sledgehammers are used, various checks are required. Ensuring the property remains structurally sound is the most obvious. You also need to fully protect the original features of the house that require keeping, as well as understanding the dirt and disruption knocking down walls can cause.
Is planning permission required for knocking down internal walls?
In most cases, the removal of internal walls comes under permitted development rights. This means a planning application does not need to be submitted. For listed buildings, however, planning permission is essentially a necessity.
Another aspect you may require is a Building Regulations application. Once the application is complete, building control will visit your property, inspect the work, and issue a certificate – assuming all requirements are fulfilled.
Tips for identifying a load-bearing wall
As an RSJ Installation Specalist , we go through a checklist of various points to know if a wall is a load bearing. To do this, we analyse if the wall is supporting the weight of:
- The floor: It is rare for floor joists to span over four metres without either beam or internal wall support. To identify the joists and the direction they are running in, look out for nail runs within the floorboards. These usually appear at right angles to the floorboards’ direction.
- The roof: An internal wall is often relied upon as support for the roof structure in older homes. Modern roofs that boast W-shaped roof trusses, however, are designed, so they span from one main wall to another – no internal support required.
- Other walls: Walls on the ground floor tend to extend into the next floor. Yet on some occasions, upstairs walls are either offset or supported via a beam. Modern houses mostly utilise lightweight stud walls for any upper floors.
- External walls: In some old homes, internal walls are used for ‘lateral support’—these help in securing together the external walls.
Before carrying out any demolition work, there must be a temporary support for the masonry above the wall. This is done so a slot can be cut for the new lintel or beam. The slot itself generally has to have a bearing of 150mm at least and extend from either side of the opening. To spread the load, extra support is necessary under the lintel ends. It is then possible to cut out the new opening underneath.
It is essential to insert a beam or lintel when removing a structural wall, as this guarantees the above loads are transmitted safely to the ground. Asking a structural engineer for advice is always wise for this type of work.
The work is usually much easier for non-load bearing walls. For instance, there’s rarely non-load bear wall removal building regulations to cover, and there is less pressure in ensuring the building structure stays in place. However, it is advised to consult a builder or structural engineer before removing any walls.
Do you need a structural engineer to knock down internal walls?
In normal circumstances, Building Control will require the hiring of a structural engineer. The engineer will specify the most appropriate lintel or beam for the job. It is also advised to receive this information before receiving any quotes from builders, as they will have a better idea of what to charge.
How long does it take to install an RSJ?
Once those structural drawings are produced, it should not take longer than a week for the successful completion of a wall removal project. With that said, this time frame can vary depending on access, the wall size, etc.
The removal of an internal wall, as well as a joist insertion, can be completed in just one or two days. Plastering to cover up the exposed parts of the wall and boxing in the joist should only add another day to the workload. The last step is completing the painting and decoration
Knocking down a load-bearing wall: how much does it cost?
When it comes to figuring out the average cost of removing a load-bearing wall (UK prices), there is no definitive answer. Certain projects are at a much larger scale than others. For instance, if you wanted to open up the kitchen and dining room, a square, 1.8m wide opening to a load-bearing wall could set you back about £1,200.
Plus, there are various other points to budget for when totting up the removing a load-bearing wall cost UK. Repositioning a radiator may cost about £120 alone for example. In contrast, a party wall surveyor might charge upwards of £300.
Cost Breakdown Calculator
Individual costs of installing an average 3m Rolled Steel Joist (RSJ) – Total Cost: £2,500
Waste Removal £125
Can you remove a load-bearing wall?
You might be wondering what removing load bearing wall building regulations there are, or if it is even possible at all. After all, a load-bearing wall often has an integral role to play in the structure of a house.
By the way, simply knocking on a wall to find out if it is hollow does not suffice as a way of identifying whether it is load bearing or not. Some stud walls, aka timber frames that are enclosed with plasterboard, play the load-bearing role for example. On the other hand, solid masonry walls are not necessarily ‘structural’, and they can be simply partitioned walls.
What are fire regulations involved when knocking down walls?
Before knocking down any walls, you need to check what protection is provided in the case of a potential fire.
For instance, say you have carried out a loft conversion. Well the walls around the staircase into the loft supply protection, allowing you to escape if a house fire occurs. This means you will need Building Regulations consent to remove these walls, even if they are not important to the structure.
Similarly, if you were to complete a loft conversion, it is advised to leave intact partition walls which separate reception rooms from entrance halls. After all, they form a fire escape corridor that complies with Building Regulations.
Making changes to party walls
In semi-detached or terraced homes, party walls are what separate your house from your neighbours. If these walls need to be changed, it is highly recommended you contact a party wall surveyor to check your planned work is compliant with all relevant legislation.
Changes to party walls are more common in older properties. Due to often only being single skin – about 100mm or one-brick thick – they fail to support new loadings. Because of this, any new beam will need to be supported by steel columns or new brick piers. This can be disruptive and costly, especially if small foundations have to be excavated internally.
Is a completion certificate necessary?
Even if the work is done perfectly, problems could arise if you carry out a wall removal and fail to receive a completion certificate.
As soon as possible, get in touch with Building Control to organise an inspection. Worst case is you will be requested to acquire a Regularisation Certificate. In essence, this is the equivalent of a retrospective application to Building Regulations.
An inspection typically requires a degree of opening up the work physically, so an inspector can establish it is compliant and structurally sound. The cost of fixing this ‘opening up’ process is down to you.
Why a professional is needed for a steel beam installation
Even if you think you know how to remove a load bearing brick wall and install a beam, you must bring in an expert. Knocking down internal walls should not be viewed as some simple DIY weekend project. If done wrong, your home could suffer from catastrophic consequences.
Get in touch with a structural engineer or an expert builder. Determine the installation process. Learn which steel beams are required for the job. Understand how much the project will cost in total. Then finally, bring in the professionals to carry out the installation of the steel beams and removal of those walls.
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