Soffit removal in a Kitchen or Bathroom

Many times when we remodel a kitchen or bathroom the home owner wants the soffit removed (more formally called “interior drop soffit”) . Typically in bathrooms there are suspended lights from these and in kitchens the cabinets normally butt up against them. The trick to soffits is that they make great hiding places for plumbing, electrical, and any extra insulation that the builder wanted to get rid of. We normally prepare the homeowner for this and the hidden cost of moving said electrical and plumbing. They can be very dirty to remove. Here’s what we normally do:

1. we remove all cabinets and anything suspended from them.

2. We knock a few holes in the FACE of the soffit. If you knock a hole in the bottom of the soffit you are going to find out if there’s insulation in there the hard way. I recommend knocking the first few holes in the soffit above the kitchen sink and stove. This way i can check for vent stacks from the sink and power lines for the stove. If I find either then the homeowner needs to decide if they want to move forward with the removal. They will probably be looking at an extra cost in an electrician and/or a plumber (although we generally build allowances into the quote just for this).

3. Next i remove the remainder of the drywall on the face of the soffit and remove insulation as i go. I take a razor and score the corner where the soffit meets the ceiling (makes the drywall patch easier).

4. Once the drywall and any insulation is removed then i remove the bottom drywall on the soffit (again scoring the corner where the soffit and the wall meet). We should be able to see all or any hidden electrical and plumbing issues. Now is a good time to turn off the power to those circuits.

5. At this point I should be left with the wood frame and any hidden plumbing/electrical. We will have also have already turned the power off to those circuits. We carefully remove the wooden frame. This will more than likely require the use of power tools so we must be careful of the electric and plumbing.

6. Once all the wood framing is removed we will have to deal with the electrical issues and/or plumbing. After any electrical/plumbing issues are dealt with, and any insulation that is needed is added we will  button it back up with drywall, mud it and paint it.