Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Demolition in earnest

Since starting demolition this past Sunday I've spent another two afternoons knocking down walls, removing drywall, plaster, and lath and piling the debris in three of the four rooms upstairs. We're beginning to run out of room. Miles reminded us today about our old brick piers that need to be "repointed" (this means the crumbling mortar needs to be ground out and replaced) and that we should be careful of piling hundreds of pounds of debris in the middle of the floor. We'll need to order our first 40 yard dumpster soon, and start the back-breaking work of hauling debris out of the house.

Demolition is invigorating and satisfying. It's amazing to see how quickly the feel of a room changes as it goes from relatively pristine white walls, to uncovering the old lath or old paint. It's also physically satisfying to swing a 3 or 8 pound sledge hammer and feel the old 2x4 framing or plaster and lath give way. There are very few culturally acceptable opportunities for an adult to really take out aggression and tension on real objects, but demolition is a great one (and by the way, if you're in the area and want the opportunity to experience the primal thrill of putting a hammer through a wall, I've got extra hammers and respirators!)

The other thrilling aspect of demolition is discovering what's behind the cheap dry-wall. In our Mallard Ave. house we discovered old bead-board walls and ceilings, as well as old wood floors under carpeting and vinyl. Our biggest discovery in the middle house, though, has been mild fire damage in what is the future dining room. 

It looks like the fire started to the right of the fire place and partially traveled up the wall to the ceiling. The majority of the bead board ceiling only has charred paint, but we did lose about 2 feet of it near the wall, and some joists in the ceiling are a little charred. All this damage was just covered over with drywall, waiting to be discovered by the home's bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new owners. Fortunately the damage doesn't look too bad, but we won't know more until demolition is complete.

In the coming week(s) we need to take all of the first floor down to the studs and get the debris out to the dumpster, and then we need to get the basement down to the studs and then remove the plywood floor in the basement. We now know the previous owner built the basement on an 8x8 beam sitting on the ground. This is obviously a bad idea, and the beam has probably already started to rot. We'll need to look and see how the earth is sloped underneath the floor, and then we'll need to evaluate if we can afford to properly rebuild, frame, and finish the basement. Otherwise we might just build a utility area for the time being.

We'll have more photos of progress and demolition real soon.

p.s. Does anyone have ideas for creative re-use of old building materials? We will have piles of old wood lath, a few old 2x4s from framing, and maybe other materials. I'd love to be able to prevent some of these materials from heading to a land fill. Help me!

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