The Renovator’s wife Blog

Renovating with your partner and living to tell about it

Demolition Love May 26, 2010

With all due respect to Jann Arden (who I think is fabulous), her song should have been named “Renovation Love” instead of “Demolition Love”, but for the Renovator and I, the two are one in the same.

In any renovation, there is a certain amount of demolition. Like all good renovators, we think that sometimes ‘destruction’ is the best part of ‘construction’. It’s quicker, easier and helps you get out whatever aggression you’ve stock-piled while trying to finance your reno.

To properly demo takes a bit of planning. It isn’t just screaming while swinging the sledgehammer and crowbar!

1. Think about what you want to do. Is it to take the wall out entirely or just widen the doorway? Are you sure double doors are right? Or is a single door more practical? It’s easier to think about it a bit longer than to have to rebuild.

2. How will you deal with the debris? It’s fun to rip and tear, but have a plan for the garbage; fully assess what will be going out. Some renos work fine with a pickup truck, but large ones will require a rental bin. Carpet doesn’t look like it takes up much room, but think of it rolled up with underlay and that’s a lot of junk! Also, keep in mind that metal, wood and drywall are disposed of differently, so don’t heap them all into one pile.

3. Have an understanding of the steps in the process. It’s hard to hold back when you’ve decided to start, but do what’s necessary to be safe and not make your spouse want to strangle you.

  • A. Remove the furniture and items off the wall. If something is too large to remove, cover it with a padded cover to protect it.
  • B.  Screen off areas not in the construction zone to keep the mess confined.
  • C. Yes, I know you want to grab the sledge-hammer and hit the wall, but remove the little things first – trim, casings and light and plug outlet covers.
  • Depending on the surfaces you’re dealing with, and what is required, start by removing ceiling tiles first, then walls and last flooring. Carpet helps to ‘absorb’ some of the dust and bits and will allow you to roll it up and get it out easily.
  • D. Know where the electrical runs and if you’re even slightly unsure, don’t saw through the wall!

4. Keep the doors on the hinges until you’re almost done. Doors are a natural way to keep the mess confined.

5. Start with the right equipment.

  • Make sure you have a pair of sturdy canvas or leather gloves – my former mother-in-law (who is a wonderful lady) bought me a pair of calf-skin leather work gloves years ago. I completely wore them out on house #2 – there were holes in three fingers on each hand!
  • Safety glasses and ear protection as required. Knee pads are helpful!
  • Sledge hammer, large and small crow bar, regular hammer, screwdriver (for removing outlet plates), putty knife (to slide in behind baseboards if you want to reuse them), reciprocating saw, tarps and plastic sheeting, shop-vac, pliers (for pulling up staples holding down the underlay) and a heavy-duty garbage can (easier to carry the smaller pieces out).

With a bit of planning at the start, you’ll have a great demolition and renovation and that’s why I love being The Renovator’s wife.

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