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Many older homes have lots of walls dividing rooms and spaces. But most newer homes have open floorplans, in which one room flows right into the next. The result: an airy atmosphere, and a home that looks bigger than it is.

Great rooms -- in which the kitchen, dining, and living areas occupy one open space -- are becoming especially common in new homes. What if you have an old home, but you want that "great room" feel? Well, often times, you can remove a wall or two.

Should you hire a pro to do the dirty work -- or do it yourself and save cash? Let's take a closer look at each option.

HIRE-IT-OUT METHOD
Why would you want to hire a professional to knock down a wall? Well, this job is a big one -- but mostly because it's messy and time-consuming. Removing a wall involves three main steps: preparation, demolition and cleanup. And if your wall is made of plaster instead of drywall (many older homes have plaster walls, which crumble when dug into), prepare for an even bigger mess. Plaster produces a lot more debris and dust than drywall.

There are also a few major considerations that can make the process more complicated -- and thus, more tempting to hire a pro. Namely, identifying load-bearing walls and locating any plumbing or electrical behind the wall. A load-bearing wall offers structural support and cannot be removed completely, or the weight it supports could come tumbling down. A structural engineer or contractor can suggest how to work around this problem or reinforce your ceiling another way.

Also, an engineer can help you locate any plumbing or electrical that may be behind the wall. You might not be able to relocate it without significant costs, and your inexpensive wall removal project can quickly turn into a thousand-dollar nightmare. So before you swing that hammer, talk to a professional.

According to DIY or Not, you can hire a professional to remove your wall -- plaster or drywall -- for between $421 and $446 for labor alone, depending on your location. It could be slightly more if it is a load-bearing wall and requires alternative reinforcements. Moreover, as we mentioned earlier, if any electrical or duct work needs to be moved, you could be looking at a significant cost increase.

DO-IT-YOURSELF APPROACH
Think you want to remove that wall yourself? From a skill perspective, removing a basic, non-load-bearing wall is not all that challenging. If you can swing a sledgehammer, you're in business -- although my fellow writer explains that there's an art to demolishing a wall. Demolishing a wall can even help you let off steam. And it's a lot cheaper to DIY, because you'll save almost $500 or more in labor fees. You might say it's the perfect project for a DIYer.

If you've had your wall inspected and are ready to rock 'n' roll, then let's see how much can you can save by doing it yourself The first step after inspection is making sure that you have all the proper materials and tools necessary for the job.

Rentals:
The only item you'll need to rent is a dumpster. A dumpster is required if you do not have a vehicle capable of transporting the trash to a local landfill. (Note: if you're transporting it to a dump yourself, call ahead to make sure that they will accept your debris. You don't want to be stuck with it!)

Dumpster rental varies by area, but the average price is around $250 per day. You can find free quotes online from various companies -- shop around to get the best price.

Tool and Material Purchases:

Protective Masks: Trust me, you will not want to forget to buy these. Whatever is in drywall or plaster will get right into your lungs and can make you sick. This should be your very first purchase. 2-pack for $7.

Work Gloves: By the end of the demo, you will be covered from head to toe in dust and dirt. A good pair of work gloves will also make hauling debris to the dumpster a breeze. $10.

Safety Glasses: Just like the masks, these will protect your eyes from dust as well as flying debris. $5 to $10.

Sledge Hammer: The most fun tool you'll ever buy! It may also have therapeutic side effects when swung against hard surfaces. $22.

Pry bar: You only need this when removing plaster walls because it will make removing the wooden slats behind plaster a lot easier. About $9.

Electric saw: Just about any kind of saw will do to help you remove wooden studs, but we recommend an electric saw. It will make the job much easier. Starting at around $50.

Plastic sheeting: Use masking tape to affix this to the ceiling and floor. Don't forget to add an opening to walk in and out of the demo space. This will protect the rest of your home from getting covered in drywall and plaster dust. $28 for 400ft.

Tarp Zipper: If you plan on keeping the dust as confined in the demo space as possible, you can consider purchasing a tarp zipper, which creates a zipper entrance/exit in and out of the demo area. $10.

Masking Tape: This will help keep your plastic sheeting in place while you do the demo. $3.98 for 1 roll

So...are you ready to do it yourself -- and save?

**Tip: You should check with your local building department to make sure you're abiding by the codes. There could be a small fee associated with the permit, usually under $100, and you're responsible for this regardless of whether or not you hire professional.



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