Go to How Not to Build an Addition Index! This page is the Demolition page.


Nothing warms the heart of a man as much as the sound of the word demolition. There is something grand and powerful about the idea of destruction. I love football, basketball and baseball, but there is a superior sport...As the seasons come and go, I expectantly await the 4th of July so I can attend the most exciting three hours in the calendar year, the annual Forks, Washington Demolition Derby. Cars smash together in complete abandon. Tires explode; radiators gush steam; and sheet metal is bent un-melodiously into the shape of so many accordions.

The destruction of a building offers the same satisfying spectacle. The experts put a few sticks of dynamite into a building's foundation and support structure. They hook up a few wires, add some electricity and the whole unwanted derelict implodes, leaving only a tidy heap of rubble and a dust cloud.

Watching these events might lead one to believe that tearing down the old to make way for the new would be a simple process. Indeed, it would be a simple process if we did not have to clean up the mess left behind. In putting on an addition, one typically does not want to destroy the entire dwelling. The object is to make a hole for a door, remove some siding, or in my case, remove a section of roof.

To do this work requires surgical precision. You cannot simply take a sledge hammer and pound a hole through the nearest wall. There may be an electric circuit inside that you wish to splice onto, or you may even need to use part of the wall for support.

Thus, I regrettably recommend the slow and methodical approach. This means you must think about what you are pulling off from a house before you do it. The simplest way is to draw a line with a magic marker where your addition will connect with your established structure. Next you will need to procure the most devastating weapon in your arsenal of destructive tools - the reciprocal saw. For those of you who have not seen one of these before, imagine a foreshortened jackhammer with a saw-blade (rather than a heavy metal point) on the business end. Depending on the size and type of blade, this instrument will cut through anything.

Drill a hole at some point along your magic marker line; insert the saw blade. Then, as if you were a little girl with a pair of scissors and a paper doll, cut along the line. The result will be a separation between what you want to remove and what you wish to keep. Hopefully, you have first made certain that your line does not intersect with a support wall or beam. Should this prove to be the case, you will know it soon enough. Whatever the result, the way is now clear for you to put to use the other tools of the trade.

Next Page

Tools of the Trade
The Dump
The Blue Tarp
Dirty Work

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Introduction | Decision Making | Design | Permits | Buying Materials | Demolition | Digging | Masonry | Framing | Electricity | Plumbing | Inspections | Roofing | Sheathing / Siding | Soffits | Insurance | Insulation | Fat Fireman Rule | Drywall | Finish Carpentry | Tile | Painting | Carpet | Done

About the Author:
W.J. Rayment built an addition on his house, and in the course of the project learned from his many mistakes. This on-line compendium is his effort to help you learn from his experience. The advice and stories are often humorous, sometimes silly, but always informative. for yourself or as a gift for family or friends.

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