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What’s Behind the Walls Can Come Out to Bite Your Budget

August 22, 2011

Homes are inherently obvious and yet totally opaque.  They’re obvious because everybody lives in one and they’re made of stuff that all of us have seen our entire lives (walls, windows, roofs, etc.).  But they’re also opaque literally.  Most people have no idea what is under the top coat of paint that surrounds them.  They usually live in terror about wires, pipes, heating ducts, etc.  Truth is, the innards of your home are like the innards of any machine, say our car’s engine.  They’re made by man, assembled by man and ultimately can be reworked by man.  But it all comes down to cost. 

Opening up walls to see what’s inside them reveals a variety of things:

  1. Things that go between floors like forced air ducting and staircases and waste lines (the pipes that actually use gravity to take the after effects of washing and personal hygiene out of your house).
  2. Things that contain stuff under pressure (hot and cold running water, electricity, the heated water that’s used for your radiators) can be moved quite easily.
  3. Relocating structure.  The structure of your home accommodates two types of forces that affect every building – gravity (holding things up) or the loads that wind and earthquakes put on our homes – the sideways forces.  Gravity can be accommodated by beams that redirect the weight of your structure and the things that sit upon it down into the ground by your foundation under your home.  The stuff that stiffens your home from “the shakes” involves stiffening elements so that parts of your home are quite rigid.  Yes – both accommodating changes that affect these realities can be a little pricy.

 It’s probably not a good idea to remove the skin over your walls without understanding the dangers of what’s behind them.  So if you want to do a little selective demo perhaps it’s a good idea to talk to a builder about where it’s “safe” to actually see what’s behind a wall you’re interested in moving.

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