Undertaking the Actual Demolition

The general theory is that anybody can do the demolition. You can hire a laborer or you can do it yourself. All it takes is a sledgehammer and some muscle power. The truth is a little bit different. It all depends on what you are demolishing and what you need to save.

If you are working on an historic home, you'll want to save moldings, paneling, and other old pieces. This means that demolition becomes a time-consuming, precise job requiring patience and care. You won't want to leave it to an unskilled person.

In a typical kitchen demolition, for example, you may want to pre¬serve the old cabinets (they can be sold, hung in the garage, or even given away). While the countertop will usually be destroyed (smashed into tiny pieces and carted away, if it's tile), you want to be sure you don't put holes in the walls, break windows, or damage any¬thing that is going to stay. The same holds true with flooring.

In short, before demolition begins, you should identify all the items that are going to remain and then exercise enough care to be sure that they are preserved.

Three Things to Be Wary of When Demolishing

Be sure that whoever does the work wears protective gear. That usually means-at the least-nonbreakable goggles, heavy clothing, and gloves. (You may also want to consider a hard hat, steel-toed working shoes, and earplugs, depending on the task.) Also use the correct tools. Use crowbars for pulling nails and prying, and sledges for hammering and breaking.

Don't pull muscles or strain your back. Get help when moving heavy items. Although the tile on a typical countertop may look small, when broken up and put into garbage barrels, it could weight in at thousands of pounds! Other items that can be very heavy are sinks, metal tubs, toilets, windows, solid-core doors, plas¬ter, and wallboard.

A broken wire can spark and ignite a fire. During renovation, a plumber can start a blaze while soldering copper water pipe. It's not good enough to think that you'll find a pot and fill it with water if there's a fire. Always have a fire extinguisher handy on the job. Get one with an ABC rating that is designed to handle all kinds of fires.

Clean up as you go. If you're breaking out a plaster wall, have a garbage barrel handy and dump the plas¬ter into the barrel as it breaks off. That will mean one less time you have to lift and carry it.

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