Go to How Not to Build an Addition Index! This page is about Dirty Work.


The most surprising thing about demolition is that it is hard work. Prying, wrenching, and pounding are not the leisurely activities they are made out to be.

It is also dirty work. In tearing off my roof, I was faced with two layers of shingles. One was made of asphalt and the other cedar. In the process of the work, I inevitably smeared myself with tar, which seemed to attract cedar dust. At the end of a day's work, I resembled a new life form emerging from the swamp.

My wife, treading the same ground and pulling up the same shingles, somehow managed to remain untouched by the grime. I believe there is a gene in women that allows their skin and clothing to repel dust and dirt. My wife thinks it has something to do with moral superiority.

After each day of work, after the tarps had been put in place, Robin insisted that I be subjected to a vigorous cleansing procedure similar to delousing. I was touched by her concern for my health and cleanliness; she told me to stay away from all carpet and furniture until she had given me the treatment. Then she thrust broom bristles in my direction as if she were attacking me with a bayonet. After I was swept thoroughly, I was forced to disrobe in the laundry room, where my bare skin again endured the bristles of a straw broom. From there, I was led to the shower, where I deposited a thick brown ring onto the side wall of the tub. It was not a comfortable experience, but I was thankful she did not insist on spraying me down with a hose in the back yard.


In the end, the demolition process can best be accomplished when the demolisher has the proper attitude, a grim determination to press forward despite obstacles and a mindfulness of what must be preserved. To prepare, watch a cartoon featuring the Tasmanian Devil. Set your jaw, clench your teeth, grab your sledge (or a good bowling ball), and in a whirlwind of activity, ATTACK!

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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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