Demolition – Give Me a Sledge Hammer!

One area where you can save a bundle of money is by doing your own demolition.  And who doesn’t like to tear things apart?  We have definitely done our share of demo.  As a matter of fact, when we bought our house, we tore it down to the studs from the outside (because we wanted to leave the interior wood walls intact).  We tore off a couple of rooms in the process, because they were built completely wrong.  This picture shows you what kind of a mess we were dealing with!

What a mess!

But, we had to start somewhere!  We got out our sledge hammers and crowbars and went to work.  We totally demolished one section of the house that was beyond repair, then added a new section in its place so that we could re-roof the entire house to prevent further deterioration of the inside.  Here I am getting ready to knock down the porch…

Formulating a plan...

I figured that this would be a pretty daunting task, but when I swung at the first porch post with all my might, it went flying across the yard!  There weren’t even nails holding the posts to the porch (I assume they had long since rusted away!).  After the last swing, the porch came tumbling down, and my youngest (at the time) yelled, “Do it again, Daddy!”

"Do it again, Daddy!"

After the porch came down, we started tearing off layers…first, the aluminum siding, which revealed 105 lap siding.

Tearing off the Aluminum Siding

Then, tearing off the 105 siding revealed the old board & batten siding

Board & Batten Siding...several layers down!

And finally, after we removed the board & batten siding, we could see the studs!

Down to the studs!

Now, it may not look like much to you, but it looked beautiful to us!  We were finally done with the hard part!  Tearing off all of the ugly so we could start putting back some pretty!  Most people thought we were crazy.  As a matter of fact, the view above of the bare studs is what our midwife saw the first time she came to visit us!  We were so thrilled about our “new” house, but I’m sure she thought we were nuts!

When you look at these pictures, you might think that nothing that we tore off was salvageable, but au contraire! We drove the nails out of piles of studs and re-used them later.  My father-in-law used many of the boards from the board & batten siding to line the inside of a cabin he was building (the truth is, they don’t make wood like that anymore…thick, sturdy 1″ x 12″ boards).  We saved and re-used all that we could.  Now, that’s Green Building! An excellent resource for re-using old construction materials is the book, Unbuilding: Salvaging the Architectural Treasures of Unwanted Houses.  It is full of  great ideas AND lots of great pictures!  And you’ll learn the fine art of demolition with a velvet crowbar (not literally, but figuratively).

So don’t forget…even when doing demolition……waste not, want not.

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6 Responses to Demolition – Give Me a Sledge Hammer!

  1. toobigtonotice says:

    My dad used to say, “More people can see the acorn in the tree, than can see the tree in the acorn.” Tim, I think you and Elizabeth are “see the tree in the acorn” kind of people. And, by preserving the transformation in pictures and narrative, it’s easier for everyone on your blog to see what can happen to a place when you use a little imagination.

    From the pictures you posted, is also obvious that you are not afraid of hard work and sweat and getting your hands dirty. This blog will not be appreciated by everyone, especially those who think easiest is best. It really would be easier to buy a house already constructed and go sit under the air conditioner, while your interest payments quietly add up to two and three times the price of your house over the life of your mortgage. For some people, that may be their best option…but how many people have ever even considered a different way? A biblical principle seems go with the “House on a Dime” idea: Making do with less for awhile, so that you can have more in the end. For the present, less comfort, less status–in the future, more hours of your life with your family and ministry, rather than working for the bank.

    Also, for some, this method may be the only way they can ever get from where they are to where they want to be. I think this idea should especially be considered by young but hard working men, who are unmarried, newly married, or whose families are still small, whose earning power is still ramping up. Also, for those whose families are well underway, it could help instill some good traits in the young ‘uns (work ethic, self-esteem, sense of belonging, well toned muscles, etc.) Thanks for sharing what you know. I’ll continue “tuning in.”

    “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4:10

  2. GBeth says:

    This looks like an amazing transformation. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with those of us who have similar interests.

    One of the concerns I have had with the demolition/remodeling of older houses has been dealing with lead based paints and asbestos tiles, etc. Hiring specialists to come deal with the hazards might get expensive. Do you have any tips on how deal with these issues safely yet economically?

    • Tim says:

      That is a GREAT question, GBeth!

      I am a Certified Lead Renovator, and will be providing some information and resources for dealing with lead paint issues in my next blog post. There are certainly precautions that should be taken when dealing with lead and asbestos hazards, especially around children. Stay tuned!

  3. DOD says:

    There’s also a good project available for viewing here, that would also fit with your experiences. And since it had asbestos siding, it would be applicable to the next subject.

  4. DOD says:

    Since you and Nate did a lot of the work on that project, it should be a good teaching tool.

    We took the floor stapler apart and it’s working again, which is good, since no one in these parts had one for rent and I really didn’t want to buy another one just for a 9’X12′ area. Of course, I’m still considering some wood on the existing wood in the middle bedroom that would put it to further use. This is as far as we got today.

    I’m thinking about renting a rotary sander to smooth out this Varathane “high traffic” aluminum oxide technology finish. Three coats still hasn’t filled in the rough spots.

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