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5 Tips for a Smooth Demolition

If you’re like most American homeowners, your home is your castle and you want it to look and feel the best it can. Simple upgrades can add value to your investment while also providing you increased comfort and livability while you are there. For example, upgrading an old out of date bathroom can make your home more valuable when you decide to sell. Putting in a new kitchen can change the feel of your entire house. You could go simple, modern, traditional or maybe switch it up and go open air design….. the possibilities are endless and can upgrade your quality of living while increasing the overall value of your home. And many of these investments start with an interior demolition. Today, I would like to talk about 5 simple tips that can make your demolition run smoothly and as problem free as possible. While tackling a home demolition is not for everyone, if you can do it yourself you can save yourself quite a bit of money!

1. Know where your shut-offs are and how to operate them– The first thing you want to pay attention to when performing an interior demolition is what type of demolition is it? Are you tackling a whole house? Is it only a bathroom or a kitchen? Depending upon the demolition, you can encounter several types of hazards that may require you to use the emergency shut-offs. Knowing the location of and how to operate these shut-offs can be a real life saver. If your demolition space has water, gas, electric or has access to the waste water removal system you will want to familiarize yourself with the particular shut-offs as to their location and proper use. They should also be tested prior to starting the demolition to ensure they are in proper working order. The last thing you need is to be doing a bathroom demolition yourself, trying to save money and needing to shut your water off in an emergency situation only to find out the shut-off valve is frozen stuck or is broken altogether. Now, not only will you be cleaning up the mess from a broken pipe, you may be gutting a good part of your house to repair water damage from an unchecked broken pipe. That doesn’t sound like a good way to start a remodeling project and it surely won’t save you any money! In fact, it could wind up costing you thousands. If your demolition space includes gas, you need to know where and how to shut that gas off in the case of an emergency. In the case of electricity, some older homes have fuse boxes while newer homes utilize circuit breakers. You will want to identify which breakers or fuses supply the electricity to your demolition space, mark them and make sure they are in proper working order prior to beginning. In the case of waste water run-off, you should locate your emergency clean-out. This is usually found in the basement of homes with basements and can be found outside in others. While you don’t need to test the functionality of the access, knowing where it is in case there is a need to gain access is important. Even if you don’t see the particular utility in your demolition space, you never know what lies behind the walls you are about to demolish. You don’t want to find out the hard way that there is a water pipe behind that bedroom wall and you have no idea where that shut-off is!

2. Have the right tools– Before you begin, you should assemble a list of all the tools you will need to get the job done. Will there be cutting? Drilling? Will you need to remove screws or nails? All of these require special types of tools including sawz-alls, hammers, demolition bars, drills, etc. Assembling a list of all these necessary tools and making sure you have them will save you time and could save you costly down time in cases where you are paying someone to help you.

3. Have enough help– This one is self-explanatory, but nonetheless often the amount of help needed to complete a job is greater than what you think. When you look at a demolition, you have to envision how much debris you will have, how much it will weigh, how far you need to transport it and possibly most important is whether or not you can do the work yourself. If you have a heart condition, it may not be a good idea to be carting sheetrock from a second floor down a flight of stairs to a waiting dumpster in all types of weather. You also need to determine how you are going to transport the debris. Are you going to fill trash cans or is it all materials that need to be removed by hand? These all factor in to how much help you need. If you have to move small amounts of debris over a long distance, your labor time will be much higher than removing bulky cabinets a short distance to a dumpster.

4. Have the right safety equipment– When starting a demolition, you will always need the basics of safety equipment. These include work boots, gloves, eye protection, and in some cases a hard hat is often advisable. No one needs to spend a Saturday afternoon in the emergency room getting a tetanus shot because you didn’t have gloves on and took a rusty nail to the hand. Other types of tools may require specialized types of equipment such as face shields or masks. Safety vests are never a bad idea either.

5. Have enough dumpster space– Guessing how much dumpster space you will need to complete a demolition is a very important yet very difficult thing to do. As a professional demolition contractor, I find this one of my most difficult tasks when pricing out a demolition bid. As a do-it-yourself project person, it could mean the difference between having a dumpster that is half full versus needing to order a second dumpster that you didn’t count on because the first dumpster wasn’t big enough. Getting 2 small dumpster where 1 larger one could have done the job obviously doubles your disposal budget right there. There are online guides you can find to translate different waste streams into cubic yardage. Other ways to gauge the amount of debris your demolition will produce is to ask your trash hauler. In addition to dealing with these types of questions on a daily basis, we often perform these types of jobs ourselves and have a better understanding of the amounts of debris generated.

In conclusion, taking some time to consider the finer points of the project you are about to undertake can save you time and money while adding significant value to your home. Whatever type of home improvement project you are undertaking, the finished project will undoubtedly make your home a happier and more valuable place to live. While following these small tips to a better demolition, please remember to be safe and never take on a project that you aren’t sure you can handle.