let the demolition begin

dumpster delivery

A massive 30 yard dumpster has been delivered to the house.  It’s a huge metal behemoth, which measures 22’ long, 8’ wide and 6’ high.  I was given a chance to laugh at myself again by offering to help the driver guide the dumpster into place as it was rolled off the truck.  He curtly told me that he had done it before, and then proceeded to place the dumpster next to the house (for ease of heaving debris from the windows) closer than I had imagined possible.  Good thing I was there to help.  

empty and waiting

The weight allowance is 5 tons!  I haven’t done sustained strenuous, dirty, physical labor all day, day after day, for a long time.  And gutting a house requires just that.  I question how my aging desk bound body will manage.  Have I mentioned that my 19-year-old nephew is here to help?  My brother says he is fit from lifting weights and jogging.  I am too (sort of, well … not really), but demolition work is a different kettle of fish.  It requires physical strength, of course, tearing out, and then carrying, endless loads of debris that may eventually add up to 5 tons.  It also requires a certain mental fortitude, and a lot more protective gear, than one needs in the gym.  Dirt and dust will be trying to find its way into every pore and alveolus.  What with kids nowadays (grumbles this old man), and my aging body, I wondered how we would fare.  A 5 ton dumpster for two weeks, Evan’s help for 10 days, and a house to gut.

Marci suited up

Evan, Marci and I donned tyvek suits with hoods, goggles, respirators with mold filters, gloves and shoe covers.  The sweat started pouring out of us just from wearing the gear, never mind actually working.  We had the required tools as well – sledge hammers (15 lb. and 3 lb.), regular claw hammers, crow bars (big and small), flat bars, bolt cutters, shovels, battery-powered sawsall, brooms, garbage cans and old spackle buckets.  I figured we’d better start slow, and build up as the week went on.  After five hours on the first day (including 50 minutes for lunch and breaks), we were all knackered and gladly quit for the day.  We also enjoyed the opportunity to look at some of the old ‘treasures’ that came out of the walls and ceilings – but more on that later.  Our clothes were soaked and dirty.  When we got home I grabbed some soap and shampoo and we headed for the creek.  This became our daily routine. 

suffocating dust

We worked 8 of the 10 days, only managing an average of 5 ½ hours a day.  Although we maintained only a moderate work schedule, we managed to fill the dumpster – and then some.  The final weigh-in came in at 6.07 tons! Saying that we tore out and dumped an average of 1,500 pounds of debris a day sounds much better than only 5 ½ hours of work a day!  Just as importantly, we managed to swim, fish, walk or bicycle every day together.

morning break day one and all smiles

Thank you, Evan, for your help, your friendship, and not quitting on me and the work!  (there are certain advantages to flying in one’s help from 500 miles away and the spare bedroom being the only home they have!).

We ended up tearing out a lot more than I initially intended.  I was originally thinking that some parts of the house may just need repair, and not

cast iron tub demo

absolute demolition.  I am not one to do things by half measure, though.  So when decisions had to be made on whether or not to tear something out, I erred on the side of tearing it out and replacing it with new (when in doubt, tear it out?).  The bathroom was one of these decisions, including taking out the cast iron tub (the enamel finish seemed beyond saving).  Evan’s initial enthusiasm to smash it up also helped in the decision.  He quickly found out how strong and resistant to a sledgehammer those tubs are!  I had to tell him to be careful at one point, fearing that he may drive it, intact, through the wall, out into the yard (as opposed to breaking it into manageable pieces).  He’ll think twice before volunteering to do that again! It may require more work, and cost more, but hopefully the increase in rent or sales price will make it worth it.  Regardless, I will know it is new, done right, and will last much longer.  So now we are pretty much back to the studs, in the kitchen and bathroom too.  Ah well, what else am I going to do with myself?  Watch TV?  Why not renovate an entire house instead!

success - a full dumpster

Unfortunately, despite a full dumpster, the demolition is not done.  It is now a matter of having to slow down and figure out what else must be removed, and taking care while doing it so as not to create more work down the road (such as having a ceiling collapse on me!).  I must also figure out the process of the remodel.  For example, some floors need to be leveled, which will require


jacking from below.  Obviously this must happen before installing new windows or sheet rock.  Sitting at a desk for a bit and figuring out this process, and how to proceed, is what I do best!


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