Demo: Put down the Sledgehammer
For months or maybe years, homeowners contemplate jumping into the proverbial remodeling pool with a sledgehammer in tow. First things first, sledgehammers are for busting up concrete floors and are not to be swung overhead by a middle-aged mother of 3 to take down an innocent, but severely outdated wall cabinet.
Let’s get real here.
With a plethora of information, ideas, photos and reality shows, poor homeowner’s think they have mastered the mechanics of remodeling their homes; demo and all. Making it look easy is a way of promoting product sales and manipulating you into your first purchase; that dreaded sledgehammer. Thing is, you are so wrapped up in the fun and excitement of remodeling you don’t realize what awaits you behind the walls or the damage you can inflict on your home or yourself in the process.
Let’s put down the sledgehammer, take a deep breath and start at the beginning.
Simple Definition of demolish
- : to destroy (a building, bridge, etc.) : to forcefully tear down or take apart (a structure)
- : to damage (something) so that it cannot be repaired
- : to eat all of (something) quickly
- Heavy equipment
- Haul away
- Dumpster/Dump truck
These are just a few items that can pertain to taking what’s there now and successfully removing it. The most important part of demo is not the process, it’s the result or what you find after. Most homeowners expect that they can tackle the demolishing phase themselves. What they don’t realize is it that their version of demo is not what a contractor’s version looks like. Just removing what was there does not mean demo is complete. Take another look at the bullet list again.
Demo has to mean, complete and ready for the process of remodeling to move forward. You may remove cabinets or take off tile and think demo is done. That’s not the case.
This is a kitchen demo after a professional does demo. Would a homeowner know to remove the drywall and expose the faulty wiring? They might, but why take a chance? This photo is of a true demo. The job is now ready to move forward with an electrical correction and a few more unexpected dollars for major drywall patching and painting.
What if the demo reveals something more severe?
Is that structural damage under the tile floor? Now what?
Many homeowner’s cross their fingers and hope that there isn’t anything “wrong” behind the walls, floor or ceiling. About 80% of our projects have repairs after we demo. There are so many variables that can contribute to finding things that need updates or overhauls. Mold, plumbing leaks, termite damage, age of home or poor workmanship are just a few. The most important take home from this post is that no one knows what lies under and behind your walls. You have to leave room in your remodeling budget for these types of situations.
Budgets aren’t just for affording the pretty, shiny things that you lovingly admire for years when your remodel is finished, it has to be used for the things you don’t see. It’s more important to spend your budget behind your walls than in front. Bad workmanship and poor quality fixtures behind your walls will end up costing you more money down the road. Do things right while your walls, floor and ceilings are exposed. Address the elephant in the room, even if you don’t want too or don’t feel like it is important. Your home has vital systems that need to work efficiently and correctly. If you ignore them, you will have problems down the road.
Hopefully your demo will not lead you down a road of repairs and additional expense, but thinking that you can DIY isn’t the way to go about it either. Demo is dangerous and you can seriously hurt yourself or someone else in the process. Let me remind you that there are all kinds of surprises in the walls, under the floors and in the ceilings that you may not expect. Next time you have an urge to take a sledgehammer to your home, take your time, do your homework and please read more about demo.