Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rehabbing and Old House Step 7: Demolition

This is Part 7 of our Rehabber Manual.

So, you've got the place, you've got it secure, you've got your design, and you're ready to demo, right?

Now is the time to double check a few things. One is, make sure your water and gas are turned off. Make sure that you've got the electric unhooked too, except for a couple utility plugs so that you can run power tools. Your electrician will usually happily handle that. It's a simple job.

You don't want anything that can electrocute the workers or damage (or blow up) the house.

So, onto demo. What do you need? First you need to have your head examined if you want to do this yourself. It's hard, nasty, dirty, dangerous work. You only want to do this if you absolutely have to, or if you have a particularly delicate part of the house that you want to salvage or restore. The rest, hire a crew. Many of these guys can be happily hired for $10/hour/man in some markets. If you hire a pro, he'll give you a price for the demolition and no more. You can also negotiate the metal salvage rights with him. There's can be as much as $1000 worth of copper and recycleable metal in a house (depending on the price of cu and how much is left). Make sure this is part of your negotiation.

You should be able to get a demo done for between $1-$2 per square foot plus dumpster, less salvage.

Next, you're going to need a dumpster. Or two. Do NOT have these delivered to the site before demo begins. You'll find it filled up with old tires, toxic waste, the neighbors garbage, and other folks demo refuse before you even get started. So, start the demo, then get the dumpster. Cover it at night with a tarp, if you can. A smart demo-er will artfully position debri so that the dumpster looks full every day, but can still take several more days worth of debris.

In our market, a dumpster can run between $250 and $600, depending upon size, and the outfit. That includes delivery and pick up. Make sure you adhere to the rules set by the dumpster co., otherwise you may end up with some other charges you didn't expect.

Ideally, you can position your dumpster right up close to the house. This way, your crew can simply chuck plaster and debris right out the window into the dumpster. You may have to use a chute, but the concept is similar. You may want to remove the sashes of the windows you're going to dump debris from, even if you intend to replace them and not repair them. It's easy for a window to get broken and old glass is both pretty and hard to replace.

When you're hiring your demo crew, you will probably want to walk through the site with your plan and the crew boss so that he has a very clear idea of what goes and what stays. You'll probably want to spend a little time with the crew, too, just making sure that they know that you care and that they know what to leave. Orange spray paint is usually used to mark walls etc. that go, but let your demo guy (or girl) tell you how they like to do things.

Something else you'll want to have, since you'll be on site from time to time during the demo is a P-100 respirator. There's almost assuredly going to be lead paint. There may be asbestos. No matter what, there will be nasty dirt. In attics, there's a very good chance of running into bat and/or bird feces, and that presents a risk of histoplasmosis. Get a P- or N- 100 respirator. Wear it during demo or whenever you're in a high dust situation. It could save your life or at least your brain/lungs.

In addition to a mask, you're going to want safety glasses. You can get prescription glasses through Zenni Optical or $39glasses online for very reasonable prices. Non-prescription glasses can be picked up cheap at Biglots or Home Depot. Get some gloves. Make sure that they fit pretty well. You'll be glad you did. Trust me. Get several pair if you really like them. We blew through 4 pairs of gloves on our project, each.

Other things you'll probably want for demo and part of the project are:

a long heavy pry/crowbar
a thin pry bar, or two
a "cats paw"
a light sledge hammer
a reciprocating saw
a metal handled hammer
a chisle

Note that not all of these items may not be needed for the initial demo if you have a crew, but inevitably there will be other demo that needs to be done. Not only that, but inevitably you're going to have to undo some work you've done for one reason or another. Pulling nails happens. You'll need this stuff sooner or later.

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