So if you’ve ever seen a home renovation show there’s always a demolition segment where the homeowner gets handed a sledgehammer and they typically take a swing at a kitchen counter or what not. I get it, it makes for good TV. What you don’t usually see in that TV segment is the small army of people employed to help take everything apart. In reality the demolition process is very important and usually doesn’t take just a day. If you factor in the care needed to preserve certain items or fixtures for future use, it can take a really long time. We knew given the age of our house that the demolition process was going to be critical, not only in creating a clean canvas from which to build upon, but in identifying potential issues.

Luckily, people love destroying things. At no point during our home renovation have we had so many people pitch in. There’s just some weird thrill about jacking a wall. With a small army of family members and friends we set upon taking everything down. Our main goals going into the demolition process were to:

• Remove all carpeting
• Strip any walls that would need to be worked on (electrical, A/V, etc…)
• Remove (and try to save) the kitchen cabinets
• Remove the kitchen’s dropped ceiling
• Remove the kitchen’s 3rd and 4th wall to create an open concept floor plan
• Remove any items that seemed rotten and or decayed/moldy

The first few on the list were pretty straight forward. When we bought the house there was wall to wall carpeting. I’m sure it looked great in 1987. With two newborns though, I need a clean and hygienic atmosphere and carpeting does not fall under that category. All the carpeting had to come out, and wow, was there a lot of carpeting. Basically the only spot in the house without carpeting was the kitchen floor. So we removed somewhere in the vicinity of 1,500 Sq. Ft of old, sometimes moist, and always dirty carpeting. Needless to say it was kind of nasty. The carpet padding was the worst of it. Not only was it dirty, it was very, very heavy. We got it out though and piled the carpet, padding and edge retainers up in the garage.

With the carpeting removed we were greeted with an unexpected surprise… old ugly tile! So, surprise #1, a new bullet point:

• Remove tile

We’re not talking about a little bit of tile here, we’re talking 1,500 Sq. Ft. of tile. We ultimately left the tile in place for about two weeks as we continued the demolition process. With the quantity of tile at hand we knew we would need a garbage container to dispose of it, so it received a short stay of execution.

Next up was stripping the walls that required any work. Included in this was all the walls for the den. The den’s exterior wall was made of what looked like beach wood planks. The wood is quite nice and I’ve saved it for a future project, but it was definitely not something I wanted up on my walls. This wasn’t terribly difficult, but it did take some muscle as the planks were installed with tongue and groove joints and were quite sturdy. The interior of the den was all wood paneling. Once again, great for the 70’s, but definitely not our style. Little did we know that four weeks after bringing down the den to the wall studs we would be presented with surprise #2, a roof leak!

Ultimately it was to our benefit that we saw the roof leak when we did. From what I can tell the prior owners had been living with the leak for god knows how long. While not a major leak, any leak is certainly significant. One of the planks on the rear patio’s roof had rotted out. The water had then been rolling along the plank onto the house’s exterior concrete block wall, dripping down and pooling up on the den floor. The small size of the leak coupled with the carpeting had probably made it invisible. Actually we barely noticed it at all, but there was a massive rain storm just a few weeks after we opened up the walls. Calling in a known and trusted roofer he was able to remove and replace the rotted roof plank and install new shingle in a couple of days.

In the next post we’ll deal with the kitchen demolition, which like everything else so far, was very difficult.