DIY Demolition Tips for Beginners

Since the advent of the internet, thousands of people have taken it upon themselves to learn and complete do-it-yourself projects. Everything from construction to auto repair, DIY projects have become fashionable across the country.  DIY demolition projects are the same as people seek to save money by doing their own work. Here, we will discuss DIY demolition tips for beginners.

For years, television programs have ingrained in popular culture that demolition is as simple as two people with sledgehammers bashing cabinets from a wall. Although these scenes fit nicely into an hour-long TV window, the truth is that do-it-yourself demolition is a little more complicated.  You can learn more about demolition services here.

Decide on Your Vision

When deciding on a demolition project, and even before creating a preliminary plan, it is good to look deeply into what your final goal will be and what it will look like in the end. It is not enough to have a rough idea of what you want in your mind before starting. Drawing out your final vision on a piece of paper or computer will go a long way in making you feel confident in your original idea. There have been many people who learned their mistake after demolition began only to find themselves in the middle of a gutted kitchen or bedroom, who discovered they could not move forward.

Plan the Demolition Project

Once sure of what you want and need, you can move onto the 2nd phase of your DIY demolition project, planning. Although planning can never account for 100% of issues, starting demolition without one can be catastrophic. A plan is a step by step flow of your project so that you do not run into unwanted surprises. Other than a list of each stage, your plan should be in writing and consist of the following:

1. Any Required Permits, Permissions, Licenses, Code Requirements, Etc.

All of these must be considered before beginning any demolition project. Making sure you research this information will help guarantee you are not blindsided by fines, lawsuits, or even simple complaints from neighbors before starting the project. Start with your HOA and research your way up through the city and county you live in to ensure you will not be violating any rules before proceeding. Research may take a few days to complete but may save you hundreds of dollars in fines in the end.

2. A List of Tools Required to Complete the Project.

There is nothing worse in a do-it-yourself project than getting halfway through and finding out you do not have the proper tools. Though sledgehammers are all they need on “flip this house” type of shows, you are not as lucky. By reviewing each point in your step by step plan, you can determine what tools you will need for the project. If the price of the required tools climbs above your expectations, remember many home improvements stores and equipment rental facilities will rent you tools at a fraction of the cost of buying them. Renting helps your pocketbook and assures you can avoid the headache of using an improper tool.

3. A List of Safety Risks to Watch for During Demolition

Pinch points from pry bars and hammers, stepping on nails, and flying debris can cause injury and must be taken into consideration within your demolition project. These should not be overlooked and planned for by using gloves, safety glasses, and maybe some safety work boots. A much more dangerous scenario is working around live electrical wires, gas lines, and water mains.

From tearing down full or partial walls to digging up a foundation, proper care must include that electricity, water, and gas are isolated to not harm you or anyone else. Turning the power off at a breaker and placing a piece of tape or lockout device on the switch can prevent someone from accidentally turning the power back on. The same goes for water and gas, even if you do not think any lines run within the walls or ground you will be working, it is safer to have all of these energy sources turned off until you are sure.

4. Have a Plan to Control Debris

People who have taken on DIY demolition projects have found they can be overtaken by the piles of debris that build up while working. Have in your plan what you will do to control this waste and how you will dispose of it. Many materials, especially in older houses, are not allowed to be thrown into the regular trash. Even if they were allowed, there would usually be more debris than your municipal trash vessels can support. Add into your plan to coordinate with a private waste company to haul away your waste in a frequent and controlled way. These companies will usually provide heavy-duty bags and dumpsters to keep your working area clean.

Prepare the Demolition Site

Before beginning the demolition, make sure you have prepared the area for debris and dust control. If working inside a building, make sure you cover the areas you want to keep clean with plastic sheeting. Have an area designated for debris inside and outside until placed into bags or a dumpster. Have your tools staged so that you are not digging through rubble to find them later when needed. Rent air scrubbers for dusty inside work to keep the air breathable during the demolition.  In addition, you will want to prepare by hiring post construction cleaning here.

Complete the Demolition Project

Once your step by step plan is in place, and all the safety risks are eliminated, you can start your demolition. Regardless if it is a wall removal, kitchen cabinet extraction, or an entire building involved in the destruction, follow your plan and move intentionally and with purpose on each step. Move too fast, and you may find yourself injured, exhausted, or overwhelmed by debris. Use your tools to pry, hammer gently, and unscrew items instead of bashing them into pieces. For full teardown of buildings, use heavy equipment to collapse the building into a pile that makes it easy to remove the rubble and place in haul away dumpsters. Position flagging tape a reasonable distance between your project and any other buildings or hazards can help keep you from becoming complacent and causing damage as it will teach you not to cross the caution tape. In the end, the goal is to finish safely, with the result you had in mind. If, at any point, you are not comfortable, hire a knowledgeable contractor for help or advice. Happy demolition!

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