Don’t Just Knock Down a Wall: First, Ask These Five Important Questions

If you own an older Philadelphia home and are looking for a quick way to modernize your interior floor plan, you may want to knock down a wall. But before you commit to interior demolition, you will need to ask a few important questions.

With the popularity of open floor plans growing in recent years, owners of older Philadelphia homes may decide that the best way to modernize their floor plan is to knock down a wall. Although removing a wall is definitely one way to freshen up the interior look of a home, remember to ask the following questions before committing yourself to an irreversible demolition.

Is this Wall Actually a Support Beam?

When it comes to interior renovations, the number one rule to remember is this: All walls are not created equal. Some walls are simply partitions between two rooms. Other walls actually hold up your house. Before you attempt to knock down a wall, ask an expert to determine whether it is a structural necessity. If the answer is yes, and you still want to open up the space, you may want to discuss alternatives such as the possibility of building support columns to sustain the weight or widening existing doorways to add some space while still leaving most of the structural wall intact.

What Is Inside the Wall?

Most walls hide electrical cables, HVAC vents, water pipes, and even gas lines. Shifting around the infrastructure of your house is possible, but you will need to gain an accurate picture of the work involved in transferring and rerouting wires and other various elements inside your home. Removing one innocent-looking wall may require the additional services of an electrician, a plumber, and an HVAC technician, or, at the very least, a highly skilled general contractor and may significantly increase the cost of your home-remodeling project.

What Is Covering My Wall?

Lead paint is a potential issue in Philadelphia area homes built before 1978. If you live in an older home, you will need to follow certain governmental guidelines for the disposal of drywall and other debris. The City of Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health provides information regarding renovations in older homes and provides tips on minimizing lead hazards.

Is Now Really the Best Time for an Interior Demolition Project?

Try to imagine the aftermath of removing an interior wall. Dust scatters and coats everything in plain sight. Remnants of old plaster will need to be physically removed from your home. It takes time to progress from the gaping hole left after demolition to the point where the renovation is finished and that section of your home is once again habitable. The amount of time often depends on how motivated you and your contractor are to complete the job. Think about how this project will interfere with your everyday life before you begin.

Do I Really Want a Permanently Open Floor Plan?

Open floor plans change the entire flow of your home, sometime in unforeseen ways. For example, sound will carry much more easily from room to room. When living with young children who love to blast the television as you work from home in the next room, you may not appreciate this sort of added feeling of family togetherness. Or you may be happy knowing you have the ability to observe your kids at play, even if it means you need to wear headphones.

Photo Source: Flickr user Rhys A.


Jennifer DiGiovanni is a freelance writer and a partner in a real estate investment firm focusing on residential properties. She previously worked in the financial services industry and has earned an MBA from Villanova University. Jennifer enjoys writing about real estate, home improvement and small business.

Subscribe to Blue Matter and get the latest updates


  1. lia
    September 23, 2014

    Great advise. Thanks

  2. Ridley Fitzgerald
    February 14, 2017

    These are some good tips for planning a demolition. It’s definitely good to know that you should check if the wall is used as a support beam. We want to expand our kitchen, but I definitely don’t want to knock down any support. I will make sure to check for that!


Leave a Reply

Share on Facebook Share on Twiiter Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp Share on Telegram Share on Email