Remodeling is a relatively overwhelming and sometimes confusing process. Even redoing a single room can get the head spinning. But the one thing you can trust is that most projects involve very similar steps.
After design and scheduling comes the first part of construction, which really isn’t construction at all. It’s demolition.
Take a kitchen, for example. Before you put in all your new cabinets, countertops, appliances and flooring, you’ve got to rip out the old. And if you’re moving the sink, stove and fridge to strike the right working layout, you’ll also need to do a little demo to access the plumbing and electric to eventually get those systems in place.
Trust me. I know. It’s hard not to imagine that bank account dwindling. It’s also not hard to give into temptation and try to take on the demolition yourself. You figure it’s a good way to save a little cash, right?
It can be.
But when demo isn’t done right, it gets a project off on the wrong foot — not to mention the risk and added expense (if I had a dollar for every homeowner who damaged something that didn’t need damaging, I’d have a good, well…sixty bucks).
That said, anyone who wants to tackle demolition on his or her own can do it. I’d just like to offer a few tips beforehand:
- Clarify what needs to be removed. If your bathroom remodel doesn’t include a new ceiling, please don’t tear it out. It’ll add to the cost.
- Understand exactly what’s expected of you. If you’re removing drywall or plaster, you’ll also be responsible for pulling out all the nails and staples.
- Carve out enough time to get it done. Demolition is part of the remodeling process and should be treated as such. Take time off from work to get it done rather than spreading it out over three to four weekends.
- Know what’s behind each and every wall. Before taking a sledgehammer to anything, determine if there’s a gas line, water pipe, electrical wires or even asbestos behind it. Hitting any of these items could cause disaster.
- Turn off the power to that room. In old homes, it can be difficult to tell if the power is off, so be careful and check to make sure the outlets are dead.
- Get the right tools. Doing demolition correctly often requires everything from crowbars and pry bars to sledgehammers and hammers. Depending on the project, you may also need a jackhammer and concrete saw.
- Invest in a respirator. This is especially important with older homes, where fiberglass and plaster dust can irritate your nose and lungs. You also have to concern yourself with the potential for lead, asbestos and other hazards materials.
- Seal off demolition zones. Drywall dust is notorious for getting everywhere. The same can be said for concrete dust. It’s a good idea to seal off the area. Also, consider creating negative air pressure by installing a fan in the window to draw out demo dust.
- Clean up as you go. Instead of doing all the demo at once, break it up into sections and clean up as you go to make sure nothing is left, like nails or wires, that could lead to an injury.
- Get a dumpster. But keep in mind that some cities require street permits for having a dumpster on site. You may also want to consider hiring a hauling service.
- Wear a good pair of steel-toed boots. Sneakers won’t stop a nail. Nor will they give much protection against heavy objects. Talk about painful. Also, it’s not a bad idea to wear a paper suit to keep the dust off your skin and clothes.
Yes, it is possible to save money on a demolition project. Just make sure you’re up to the task.