Interior walls are often considered immovable objects but although the disruption from a building project can be a lot to put up with, the actual work involved isn’t that onerous, as long as the right professionals are used at the right time.
By rearranging the walls of a property you can give it a modern, open feel and make it more suitable for contemporary living. That, in turn, if it’s done sensitively, will put a lot of value onto the property.
Ask an Architect
Although you might have a good idea of what you want, it is worth considering asking an architect to give the project the once over.
Apart from the fact that they may come up with ideas that you hadn’t thought of, or that you didn’t were think possible, they will also be able to deliver proper drawings that a builder can use to carry out your plans.
Take the Load
The most important thing to do is correctly identify which of the walls are load-bearing and what other stresses might be brought to bear if a wall is knocked down.
This requires at the least a builder’s expertise, and preferably that of a surveyor. Load-bearing walls can be removed as long as structural changes are made to replace the support that will be lost.
If you are certain the wall is not load bearing, it can simply be knocked down, the edges tidied up and re-decorated. If it’s not, but it’s simply a case of putting a beam across other supporting walls, supports can be hired to take the load of the wall while the new beam is put in.
Then the wall can be demolished and redecorated. It is inadvisable to do this yourself unless you know exactly what you are doing.
Dividing Rooms with a New Wall
If you need to create more rooms, for example converting one large bedroom into two smaller rooms, there’s likely to be less disruption. These days an extra internal wall can be pretty quickly created using a timber frame and plasterboard.
You need to be sure that the wall is positioned correctly, supported by floor joists and inserting noggins to take the load if not.
Fix the sole plate, the bottom piece of timber, to the floor and attach the head of the timber frame to ceiling joists, again inserting noggins if necessary. If the wall is going up on a solid floor, insert a damp-proof membrane between the sole plate and the floor.
Once the head and sole plates are attached to the ceiling and floor respectively you can fill in the gaps with vertical studs at either 40cm or 60cm intervals.
Make sure they are plumb as this will make it easier to fix the plasterboard to them later on.
Horizontal noggins should be put in to support the cladding and provide mounting points for radiators and other fittings that may need to be fixed to the wall.
Before you mount the plasterboard to the timber frame, consider whether or not to fill the cavity with insulation, for sound as much as heat.
Then mount the boards, either 40cm or 60 cm wide, making sure that they are jammed right up against the ceiling as any gaps at floor level will be hidden by skirting board.
If you need to out a door in the new wall, buy the door and the casing (if you’re using one) before you start building the wall. It’s much easier to make the opening to suit the door than the other way round.
Put vertical studs either side of the opening and allow the width of the casing plus 2-3mm either side for the door to swing open. Once the casing is in place saw through the sole plate and hang the door.
Once the plasterboard is up a decorative moulding can be fixed around the door and skirting board fitted. Then it’s time for decorating all round.
Both these jobs are unlikely to require planning permission but they may be subject to building regulations.
This means that you will need to be sure of which regulations apply and a building inspector will visit to check. Depending on the nature of the work you may also have to have the work inspected while it is in progress as well.