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My new house. A demolition project.  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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This house would have lasted another 100 years, but economic forces say that it should be demolished and replaced.

 The house is dressing out better than any that I've done during 21 years in the business. Almost all of the wood is salvageable and the rest is given away as firewood. Three bedrooms and a bathroom had drywall on the walls only. Every other wall and ceiling was covered in cedar boards. Lots of work, but a salable product instead of $260 a ton dumping fees.

 95% of the insulation has been salvaged. One guy took it all.  He took all of the insulation from my last job as well. Tar paper and a vapor barrier are the only things to be thrown away from the walls.

 It was built in several stages, so there are little wings to be torn off. These areas are always more work per square foot than a big open space would be. The largest addition has slate siding and clay tiles over wood on the floor

I need the chimney for the masonry stove in the cabin. 

 My brother came to help me on this one.  He flopped in the house for a few days. This time, he only brought six dogs with him.  A new low.
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David Livingston
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Pity you could not take it apart and rebuild else where !
 
Dale Hodgins
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Most of it will be reused. It would make no sense to try to build the same thing.

A farmer is looking at rebuilding the walls and roof of the original house, which is 24 32. The 16 ft garage door fits the 24 ft wall, with 4 feet to each side.
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I gave away the giant deck. This saved a lot of labor. A 50s couple and 3 grown children, removed it in about 7 hours. Everything was screwed together and it came apart well.
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The tub is super comfortable.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I just don't get it. Perfectly good house,and they have you tear it down.
Someone must be blowing money on this deal. Is it a McMansion dealio,or what?
 
Dale Hodgins
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A lot that is worth a million. A house built from 2x4. Lots of little issues. Three spots where the floor has a 5 inch step. So many surfaces covered in cedar, that the light disappears.

The straight runs of roofing, came off at 600 sq ft per hour. It went much slower around the 13 sky lights and step flashing along walls that meet the roof. Half of today was spent on those difficult areas.
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52 minutes earlier.
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Barely used tools for the easiest part of the roof. About 80% were ripped up in a manner that lifted the tip of the next one. 20 shingles per minute.
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Bin placement is very important. All materials from the roof, can be tossed into it easily. It's almost never as efficient as on this job. I will fill one 30 yard container. It's a 5 or 6 bin house, if done with an excavator.
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These shingles are ready for pulling and stacking. No tools required.
 
Travis Johnson
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Wow, it is a good thing you do not live in New England or there would not be an old house left with economic thinking such as that.

It probably is just a different mindset here and justification can be made on anything, but over the years we have learned to take houses that were inherently deficient and improve them to efficiency through skill, techniques and materials. You see it all the time on This Old House and other shows. The lack of efficiency from a 2x4 constructed house is really mild compare to the old houses here with timber frame or balloon construction with NO insulation whatsoever within, rotted sills, and roofs.

Again we are on the other side of the country and things are probably far different here, but it seems like a waste to me. A good carpenter could have done a lot with that home without breaking even by selling scrap lumber. My grandfather always said, as long as the roof line is straight, the building can be salvaged. I have never known that not to hold true.
 
Rhys Firth
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That looked quite a nice house... From the looks of the photos I would have been quite happy living there!

I wonder what the new, probably "Architecturally designed" home will look like.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Buildings are torn down for various reasons. I accept that and I recycle the products from those buildings.  Sometimes a building is moved.  I've participated in about 50 moves.

 Yesterday, I got a call about removing a garage that is in good condition.  The owner would like to have a garage in a different spot on the property. I'm investigating the idea of moving it with a crane. If it can't be moved,  it will be torn down.
......
 All of the slate that covered the rear wall has been sold. Much of the lumber in these piles already has a destination.
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The marble tile came up well.
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Dale Hodgins
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The small roof at the back of the house, fought me every step of the way. Build with doubled  2x8 rafters and double 2x6 for the ceiling. Six skylights. Holes left after removing skylights, can be very dangerous. I never turn my back to them while popping the boards.
.....
 The original portion of the house, which is the largest, came down much easier.

It took two hours for me to strip all of the thin plywood off of this roof. That's great production. After another three hours of popping shiplap,  it was time to take down rafters.
 
The rafters were nailed down very hard and the noise of them creaking apart, was thunderous. Some had to be struck with the sledgehammer, to release the bird's mouth. My heaviest bar was employed.
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The electricity still works.
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The next day.
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This morning. Everything has been removed to the mezzanine.
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The low roof between the house and garage, contains trusses. Less work than if stick framed. ☺ These will come down tomorrow.
 
Brett Hammond
Posts: 76
Location: Maryland, USA
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solar tiny house woodworking
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Dale,

This is very interesting. I think it is great you can reuse so much!

How to you estimate how many man-hours it will take to deconstruct a house so the parts can be resold? While doing home improvement work I have had to tear apart parts, but never a whole house. Any advice for someone attempting this for the first time? I have no specific project in mind, just curious to learn new things. Thanks!
 
Dale Hodgins
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The question requires a multi page answer. Most important, is to choose the right house.  One that has a high percentage of salvageable materials and not a lot of time consuming garbage.

 Tools are also very important.  You must get a good quality pry bar.  If it doesn't look like the one in my photos, it's probably garbage. More than 95% of the demolition tools that I see for sale,  are not worth a pinch of shit.
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My old bar beside a new one that is better.
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Broad foot. Spreads the load, for less damage.
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Thin tip allows bar to squeeze into tight cracks.
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More sweep than the old one. This allows material to be lifted higher, before the teeth hit the floor or wall. Very important when working with 2 bars. One lifts the edge, allowing the other to be inserted further.
 
Dale Hodgins
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My helper did not show up the other day,  so I had to take the trusses down myself.

I had to very carefully invert the trusses.  They are top heavy and want to find themselves upside down. A rope is used. It's important to drop them one at a time. If a dozen trusses where hanging upside down in the space, the pressure could push the beam out from under the trusses and allow everything to collapse.

Once I have a truss hanging upside down in the space, I push it towards the door,  one end at a time. Then, one end is lifted and the other pushed upward to allow the tail of the truss to drop down into the room where I'm working After that,  I pick up the low end and slowly walk forward as the high end slides downward,  along the beam until it rests on the ground.

 These were 24 foot trusses. I can only do this myself up to about 30 foot trusses. On the garage, they are much larger and higher. The little ones were 8 feet from the floor.
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Two hangers in this shot. These beams are built solidly into the walls of other solid structures. No danger of them pushing the beams sideways.
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Dale Hodgins
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I had a useless helper today, courtesy of a labor agency. Got rid of him after 4 hours. This changed the plans for the garage trusses. I'm roping them down myself.

The cordless Makita reciprocating saw is employed. I cut the strapping two truss spaces at a time. The strap attached to the saw, allows it to be hung when not needed.
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Foam was used to repair bug damage. Water problems caused the bug issues.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Found more rot in the floor today. It was in the addition,  built on concrete with no gap or ventilation.

 After roping the first five trusses over the edge,  at the end of the garage, I lowered the rest onto scaffolding on the inside.
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Dale Hodgins
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The trusses will remain here for more than a month. The builder is using them for something at his farm. After the trusses for the new house are delivered, the same truck will pick up these trusses and deliver them home.

 They are stood almost vertically and are very well braced. The ground pegs for the braces go  2 1/2 feet deep. The ground is very wet.

 Plywood gussets are holding them together right now, but I will also use metal banding.
.....
 A nearby farm bought a lot of material. We loaded it into this 30 yard container. Bins are much more efficient to load than most trucks are. There's no worry about ruining lights or scratching up the truck, and it can be loaded from all sides.
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Dale Hodgins
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The end is near. I'm very tired. Hired help has piled lumber and filled the garbage bin. More than 95% of the tear down, was powered by my muscles.
.....
The bin dumped perfectly.
I gave away some very ugly plywood with parquet flooring attached.
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Rick English
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Dale - much thanks for this post and all your posts! I learn so much from the work you do.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thanks Rick. I hope others are inspired to take on recycling jobs, large and small.

Yesterday was the last day of selling off odds and ends.
.....
2000 feet of in floor heating pipe. This stuff came from a stash of hoarded items on another job.
.....
The pile of 2x4s was given away.
.....
A barrel of fish tank ornaments was given
away.
.....
Today is the last day. My truck and van will be jammed to the roof with leftovers.
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This guy got 2 big loads of cedar shiplap.
 
Dale Hodgins
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All done. It was a long, hard slog. Many different laborers were tried and only 4 worked out. Of those, none were available regularly and two disappeared. The most consistent one, has a full time job and was only available on weekends. The most productive one is also the most unreliable person I know. He's related. Very productive when he showed up, which was about one day in four, averaging 4 hours per visit. Drives me nuts.
.....
So, I tore most of it down myself. Every muscle needs to rest. I will do close to nothing for a few days. At 51, I'm in awesome shape, far better than any of my young helpers. A week from now, most of them will be completely broke. Cest la vie.
.....
This is the largest job that I have ever managed to squeeze into one 30 yard garbage container. Every stick of useful lumber found a new home, and every stick of firewood was given away. Metal, drywall and other recyclable materials, were kept out of the bin. This would have been a 6 bin house, if demolished with an excavator. I will use the tale of this one, when convincing others to deconstruct and save resources.
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The last little bit wouldn't fit into the over stuffed truck. Return tomorrow.
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The last thing to be thrown away, is usually glass that nobody wants. A free windows add failed to find a home for 3 that didn't open. The aluminum frames go to the scrap yard.
 
Dale Hodgins
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This was a one day "smash and grab".  I got very little lead time on the free wood available. Started removing wood yesterday morning, and this morning, the remainder was crushed and packed into bins with an excavator.

32 sticks,  averaging 10 ft long were salvaged. The old growth fir, will be milled through the center, to produce 2 rough faced boards about 7/8 inch thick.

Unfortunately, the floor joists had several layers of stuff on top. One was cut and tweaked out from below. It contained powder beatle damage and it was hemlock. Hemlock is only worth about 1/3 as much as Douglas fir.  Therefore, I didn't salvage it. Too much work for the small return.
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Delivered it to the mill today.
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The whitish hue is a water soluble glue that is sprayed on the wood after vermiculite is vaccumed up and everything is washed.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I returned to haul some junk from under the concrete slab.

The bedrock is being blasted, to make way for the new house. This will cost much more than a regular excavation does.
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