GC needed to knock down walls?

12 Replies

So I have a small closet that I am converting to a half bath, but one of the walls need to be pushed out about 2 feet to make it work. I also want to knock down the wall dividing the living room and kitchen, and then the dining room into the kitchen to open the place up. NONE of these walls are load bearing. They are only doing the framing and drywall. I have a licensed electrician and plumber coming in after them that are pulling permits and the whole nine yards. 

1) Do I need a licensed contractor to do this framing job?

2) Does the city usually make you go through the planning department to convert this closet to a bathroom? Or just pull the permit? 

3) I'm pretty certain the walls are plaster, how does that change things?

4) Is $5K a good price from a reputable (probably unlicensed) contractor to knock down one 3 foot wall, two 9 foot walls, reframe, and install tile in the new half bath? This includes hauling trash out.

It would not hurt to get some more price quotes, I think you have less than 300 dollars worth of material, so the labor is about 4500? If its over 500 dollars you need a license contractor for work being done, I think that is the law. I had work done in Sacramento and that's what they required.


@Curtis H.

First congrats on the house you are doing!!

As far as some of your questions I can try to answer your questions.

1. Licensed Contractor I think it all depends on what you are doing and where you are at. Permits are always positive and negative. If you are asking me should you use one, I would say yes. Meaning, your electrician and plumber should be pulling permits and if they are pulling permits then your GC should be licensed as well.

2. You should just be able to pull the permit. Of course every area is a little different so you will have to check with your city to verify. 

3. The walls being plaster will just be a little more demo extensive and cost a little more. 

4. If that is a labor only bid then I would say it is way to high. For that work I would say it would be more like half of that. Again, that is a little bit of a guess considering I cannot see anything. But with what you are explaining for labor only I think 2k to 2,500 is fair. 

Hope that helps a little. 


@Jay Whitfield   and @Andrew Cordle  

Thank you for letting me know I'm not crazy! And this guy was WAY cheaper than everyone else I talked to and showed the house to. I got $10K for just the bathroom conversion the first guy, $6500 for just the bathroom conversion (with no drywall just framing) the second time, and this was the cheapest guy at $5K. People in Socal are getting absolutely jobbed by these contractors out here. 

I forgot to mention that I am living in this home, not flipping it. I picked it up Sub2, and it was in such a good neighborhood I decided to keep it.

But I thought the same thing as Andrew, and that was, "it's really not much in materials at all. Wood and drywall and some odds and ends and the rest is...labor?"

It just still seems too high. And if it turns out he is NOT licensed, I still may go with him but his price has to come down in the $3K range in my opinion. 

@Curtis H.as the owner of the property you should be able to act as the GC and pull what ever permits you need.  I am not a GC myself, but Cities require permits for the darnedest things.  I had to get a "kitchen remodel" permit just to replace the cabinets in my units: no walls moved, no electrical, no plumbing.  But the one thing to remember about this, as the GC of record you will be legally liable for the work done under your watch.

I believe that IF you tell the city, they will tell you that permits are required.  You will probably need a framing inspection and then your electrical and then your plumbing, etc.  Also, if you don't report it then the county records will not reflect the additional bathroom.  This may then lead to a problem or at least a question when you go to try and sell the property at a later time

Basically, if you tell them that you are converting a closet to a bathroom, I am pretty sure they will want you to get permits. They just don't show this on the TV DIY shows.

As for the actual demo itself, it is really not that hard, but are you sure it is not load bearing?  

Personally, I would go to the city with plans that I created either by hand or via software and bite the bullet.  It will cost you some coin, but in the end you have all the documents sorted out for resale.

Good luck!

@Arlen Chou

I fully intend to pull whatever permits are necessary, as intend to sale the place one day and that bathroom will be vital to the resale, as it's a 2/1 as it stands. I will add a half bath now, and then an addition of a master bed and bath before resale. 

I have had two GCs and an engineer (who sucked) look in the attic and verify the walls are not load bearing, but one quote said "install two posts and a beam, and pour one pad footing to support inner post". That's probably being more safe than sorry, and since they only wanted $2800 to knock down two walls instead of 3, it may be better to go with them since they will pull the permit. 

Me being responsible for the framing work is my rub with a contractor that won't pull the permit. It's not so much that I AM responsible as much as it is they are NOT RESPONSIBLE. The contractor charging $6500 for just the bathroom reiterated more than once that I would be pulling the permit. And him pulling it wasn't an option since he wasn't getting the electrical and plumbing work too. And he was licensed. Red flag. 

Curtis H. Definitely sounds like it is time to find a different framing guy. It's not that hard to get the permit or get it signed off. It's not even that hard to frame the walls. If he is any good he should stand by his work and be willing to put his name on the permit. Please post up before and after pics of the work when you are all done. I would love to see how the changes work out. Good luck on your project!

@Arlen Chou

That wasn't the guy I was going to use anyway. The guy I was going to use is the one that is unlicensed, but highly referred, and I will pull my own permits.

@Curtis H. 

I work for a General Contractor, I can help you pull the permits (No Cost).

just looking to help a Fellow BP Member.

what you are describing doesn't sound like much work, so I can help you with a Schedule and Budget Estimating as well. The problem with bathrooms are the finishes, most people don't no how to budget them selves and purchase items that are way fancy.

The construction work is pretty straight forward.

just let me know.


Congratulations on the Deal But I'm seeing a few red flags here.

First how old is the house is southern cal. they stopped using plaster for interior finish in the early 60's but did not start using truss construction until the early 70's. Witch means they stack built the the roof framing and that means it depends on interior bearing walls to support it. While it could be the case that none of the walls you are going to remove / more are load bearing you need to be extra careful or you're dreams could come crashing down around you (literally)

on the issue of permits if the plumber and or electrician are going through the permit process once the city gets these applications they will usually require a "remodel or rehab" permit eliminating the concerns of framing inspection. and if you use an unlicensed contractor you are liable for it for ten years down the road

On the price for removing / moving walls is that just for framing or dose it include dry wall,  tape finish and texture? how many sq ft of tile is being installed? you haven't mentioned prices for plumbing is it on slab foundation or raised floor because the plumbing and finish (tile vs linoleum flooring, fiberglass tub and surround vs cast iron tub w/ tile surround?

Bath rooms and kitchen are the most complex and costliest rooms to remodel because of all the trades and finish options involved.

my suggestion ask around for references on a few general contractors talk to a few and get their opinions and a few prices 

sorry for the rambling post good luck

I just knocked down two walls. The first was  between a kitchen and dining room/living area. The wall was about 64" wide plus there was a 32" doorway. Now the entire 96" (8 ft) is open. The second wall was a partition wall in a closet. 

My county requires permits to remove any walls. In this case I was able to pull them online and via the phone because they were not structural. Each wall needed its own permit and, in my case, it was $90 per permit. My electrician and plumbers had their own permits though they weren't really having anything to do with the walls.

To be clear -- I did the actual work of demoing the walls. During the permit application process it specifically asked who would be doing the work: homeowner or contractor. Both were inspected and passed.

@Doug W.

A permit each wall? Sheesh. Sounds like a money grab to me. If you did not get it permitted, and the city didn't have your blueprints, what would have happened? I plan on doing everything by the book, because I hate drama. I'll pay to avoid it. I like to relax, not stress. By the way, was it hard to do yourself? 

Originally posted by @Curtis H.:

@Doug Wright

A permit each wall? Sheesh. Sounds like a money grab to me. If you did not get it permitted, and the city didn't have your blueprints, what would have happened? I plan on doing everything by the book, because I hate drama. I'll pay to avoid it. I like to relax, not stress. By the way, was it hard to do yourself? 

Oh, it's a total money grab. It's the government! :)

In my house the floor plans in the neighborhood were all identical at one point. Given the inspector's experience he would have known the walls were there at some point in time. I probably could have taken the walls out, fixed the surrounding area (floor, drywall, etc.) and painted and then claimed the house came like that when I bought it. But it wasn't worth the risk considering that I have permits for electric, gas, and plumbing so the inspector was going to be in the house at one point or another. Like you I do everything above the line. 

I didn't think that doing the work was very hard but I also think it's a subjective answer. I was comfortable doing the work and had the means to complete the project so I did it to save money. 

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