I never thought the demolition stage of our renovation would have taken so long. By this point we were already multiple weeks in, having to work predominantly on the weekends. So far we had been able to:
• Remove all carpeting (Part 1 of our Demolition)
• Strip any walls that would need to be worked on (electrical, A/V, etc…) (Part 1 of our Demolition)
• Remove (and try to save) the kitchen cabinets (Part 2 of our Demolition)
Still pending we had to:
• 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
• Remove Tile
After having removed the kitchen cabinets and most of the sheet rock from the walls we were ready to disassemble the dropped ceiling. Given that the dropped ceiling was only used to house the kitchen’s lighting I never anticipated it to be so sturdily built. Boy was I wrong… The whole thing was composed of a matrix of 2×4 treated lumber with about 24” gaps. I could literally hang from any section of the framework. That’s how strong it was. Additionally, from what I could conclude, nails were exceedingly affordable in the late 1950’s, as each joint had up to five 3” nails. Between tearing apart the framework, removing the ceilings sheetrock and the huge jumble of insulation that ended up on the floor, it took two long hard days to completely disassemble. As a bonus though we were rewarded with a massive stack of lumber. More than enough actually to complete the additional modifications planned throughout the house.
With the walls cleaned up to the studs and the ceiling removed we were able to get a good look at the framework. There was some concern going in that the kitchen walls could have been a structural component of the house. While our plan called for completely removing the walls if the corner in question would have indeed been structural that would have definitely thrown a wrench in the whole affair. As such we planned to strip everything down and get a clear look. If there were any doubts at all a structural engineer would then be called in. Luckily it never got that far. The two walls we intended to remove were completely loose. In fact, they weren’t even attached to the ceiling trusses as they were finished off more than an inch below. Given that they clearly served no structural purposes other than being walls we ripped them down.
Before tearing everything apart we had the electrician come in and remove any of the prior wiring. With new ceiling lights on the horizon as well as a few outlets in the counter planned he prewired everything and left it securely fastened and buttoned up so it would be out of our way. After that, the walls came down easily, and we were presented with a wonderful open concept living area. The view and space was well worth the trouble.
The next few items left on our demolition checklist were quick. After inspecting everything we saw that the bottom portion of the dining room wall was slightly rotted. The cause ended up being the opposite side of the wall, which was the laundry area of the garage. It wasn’t moldy, but the prior owners had allowed dirty clothes and who knows what else to accumulate behind the washer and dryer in the garage. This combined with leaky shutoff valves for the washer and dryer really did a number on the drywall. It basically fell apart in our hands. We ended up tearing apart the bottom portion of the wall on both the dining room and garage side. Bringing it down to the studs we could see there was no real damage, the sheetrock had just decomposed from the adjacent moisture.
Another area of the home that was less than perfect was the corner A/C closet. Here the walls seemed fine at first, and they ultimately were, but the orientation of the closet was odd. Most A/C air handlers are generally square in shape. The closet though is a long rectangle. Instead of placing the closet opening along the broadside of the closet, so as to take advantage of the extra space, the opening was placed along the narrow side. The net effect then was that behind the air handler there was a couple of wasted feet of storage. The solution then was to strip down the walls and change the orientation of the closet. Since we are planning to put in a new A/C unit anyway, we had an HVAC technician come in and drain the current system and remove the handler. With this out of the way we tore down the walls to the studs and left it prepped for a new door along the broadside of the closet.
With all those items out of the way, we were left with the tile removal. However, seeing an opportunity to double up on our resources it was decided to group the tile removal with a project that was originally going to be performed much later. With that, the tile removal got lumped in with the gazebo demolition, which we’ll tackle in the next post.