What you need to know before knocking through a wall

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What you need to know before knocking through a wall

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The Mews - Holland Park:  Living room by IS AND REN STUDIOS LTD ,
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If the open-plan interior trend is really speaking to you, and you know that you won't be satisfied with your home until you've tried it, we applaud your tenacity! But, before you do anything, we want you to know what knocking out a wall or two actually entails. Architects will be the first to tell you that it's not just a case of taking a sledgehammer to those pesky living room walls that you no longer want, so before you reach for your tool kit, take a look at this list of must-know factors and then get planning in earnest!

1. Do you need planning permission?

In general, you won't need planning permission to knock out some interior walls in your home, UNLESS you live in a listed building. Be sure to check the status of your home, if it is an older property, because if you knock out something you shouldn't, you'll have to put it back!

2. Are you going to work with an architect?

Brooklyn Townhouse:  Corridor & hallway by Ben Herzog Architect,
Ben Herzog Architect

Brooklyn Townhouse

Ben Herzog Architect

Technically, you don't need an architect onboard if you want to knock out any interior walls, but it can be a good idea, as they can draw up a rendering of what your home will look like after the work is completed. You really do want to be sure you'll like the open look!

3. Have you got a builder that you trust?

Open Plan Living:  Living room by iroka,
iroka

Open Plan Living

iroka

One thing you absolutely WILL need is a builder that you trust to carry out your work for you. Always look for a professional, with references and if possible, pictures of previous work. Be sure there is extensive insurance in place as well!

4. Have you had a structural engineer give you the go-ahead?

OPEN PLAN LIVING, DINING AND KITCHEN:  Living room by IS AND REN STUDIOS LTD ,
IS AND REN STUDIOS LTD

OPEN PLAN LIVING, DINING AND KITCHEN

IS AND REN STUDIOS LTD

Before you knock any walls out, it is always a really good idea to make sure that you have a structural engineer conduct a survey. Taking a belt and braces approach is always recommended, as remedial work is always far more costly!

5. Be sure to comply with building regulations.

Floreat Residence, Perth, Western Australia:  Living room by Moda Interiors,
Moda Interiors

Floreat Residence, Perth, Western Australia

Moda Interiors

You might not need planning permission to remove interior walls, but you will definitely need to comply with building regulations. If you check you local council's website, they will have a comprehensive list of regulations for you to look at and your builder should be able to help you understand them.

6. Tell your neighbours.

Transformed NW London Terrace :  Terrace house by Model Projects Ltd,
Model Projects Ltd

Transformed NW London Terrace

Model Projects Ltd

This is a key thing to remember, if you want to maintain a good relationship with your neighbours! Knocking out an interior wall will always be a noisy and disruptive process and not just for you! Giving your neighbours the heads-up will always prevent fractious relationships and if your builders need access, they will be far more likely to help rather than hinder!

7. Be sure your wall isn't structural.

Small open plan house:  Kitchen by Pyram,
Pyram

Small open plan house

Pyram

Your structural engineer and builder will be able to tell you comprehensively whether your proposed removable wall is structural or not, but even if it is, that doesn't have to be the end of your open-plan dream! Lintels will be needed to bolster your ceiling, which WILL add to the cost, but it will also mean that the project can go ahead. 

8. Be careful of period features.

The Broadway, SW19 - Extension & Bathroom Renovation:  Living room by Grand Design London Ltd,
Grand Design London Ltd

The Broadway, SW19—Extension & Bathroom Renovation

Grand Design London Ltd

If you have a charming period home chock-full of delightful character features, always try to protect them! You can obviously reinstall them somewhere else in your home, but not if you damage them in the removal process, so be very sure before you start!

9. Be prepared for inconvenience and redecorating costs.

Will a wall removal be a fast and painless process? Absolutely not! You'll have mess, noise and extensive redecorating to tackle, so this is not a small undertaking whatsoever. But that being said, how exciting to totally change the look and feel of your home!

For a little open-plan inspiration, take a look at this Ideabook: Reasons to embrace open plan living.

Are you still determined to remove some walls?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd,

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