What you need to do before starting a Demolition Project

Whether you are remodelling your garage, alfresco, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or your whole house, which requires demolition of a section of your home or the whole house, demolition is one of the most exciting phases of the project. However, although it seems as easy as knock it down, clear the rubbish and get started on the remodel, demolition can get very complicated and extremely stressful if not done right.

Depending on the scale, environmental aspects, existing land and building material considerations, and selected demolition strategy, not only can the project encompass a large scale of work, but also a crew of professionals and heavy equipment on your property for an extended period of time.

Most homeowners considering a remodel have never overseen a demolition project, and therefore don’t realise that there is more to demolition than meets the eye. Adequate research and preparation can ensure that you feel confident before starting your demolition project.

So, consider the following before embarking on a DIY Demolition Project or handing over your property to a Professional Demolition Crew.

Important Considerations

  • If you have never overseen a demolition project or don’t feel confident and adequately prepared, don’t try and do it yourself. While it may seem straight-forward and cost-effective to undertake the demolition project yourself, the project might be very complicated especially. An experienced demolition crew knows how to carry out the demolition, which parts of the structure to keep and which ones to remove. In this case, the ideal situation is to have the remodel crew undertake the demolition project as they are best placed to know how to efficient carry out the demotion removing only what needs to be removed.
  • Be courteous and take a bottle of wine to your neighbours before the demolition project commences. Be sure to communicate the expected level of noise, dust and debris, and your mitigation strategies; and be sure to request their understanding and patience for the duration of the project.
  • Ensure that you apply and secure your councils approvals and permits for the demolition project. Contact your local council to check their regulations. Your local council’s website should have this information. This can be a lengthy process, so get this checked before you apply for demolition.
  • While the demolition is taking place on your property, the project truly is a community one. You may need to be in frequent contact with your home insurer, utility company and municipal representatives for the timeline to progress smoothly. For example, you may be responsible for securing building permits or shutting off utility lines before excavation. Be sure to clarify which of these tasks you must handle yourself and which will be covered by your demolition company before the project begins.
  • Asbestos poisoning is a big deal and therefore, for your safety and that of the demolition crew, ensure that the building is inspected for asbestos, among other things, before the demolition project starts. A home inspection can help minimise the shock of what you have to deal with after the demolition project starts. A home inspector can help you determine if you will need to prioritise finding a demolition crew with the licensing required for hazardous removals. Many older homes have asbestos, which must be removed and disposed of only by certified professionals. Additionally, the inspection can help you decide on whether deconstruction, or demolition by hand, should be part of your overall demolition strategy. In a home that is likely to have asbestos, the demolition crew may do some deconstruction to find and eliminate the asbestos before bringing in a bulldozer. You may also want to consider the disposal options offered by a crew before making your hiring decisions. If no asbestos is present, many demolition materials can be recycled or resold rather than sent to a landfill.
  • Very few construction projects are as straightforward as they seem on paper. Often, homeowners find themselves surprised by the amount of their contingency budget used during the demolition phase. A home inspection before demolition can help minimise the shock of what you have to deal with after opening walls.
  • A home inspector can help you determine if you will need to prioritise finding a demolition crew with the licensing for hazardous removals like asbestos. Many older homes have asbestos, which must be removed and disposed of only by certified professionals.
  • Additionally, the inspection can help you decide on whether deconstruction, or demolition by hand, should be part of your overall demolition plan. For example, in a home that is likely to have asbestos, the demolition crew may do some deconstruction to find and eliminate the asbestos before bringing in a bulldozer.
  • You may also want to consider the disposal options offered by a demolition crew before making your hiring decisions. Many demolition materials can be recycled or resold rather than sent to a landfill.
  • If you cannot completely separate the sections to be demolished from the sections of the house that will be retained, it is highly recommended that you don’t try and live in your house while the demolition project is in progress.
  • As an important consideration, anything not included in the scope of work during demolition should be removed from the site. In most cases, this rule means that you should consider staying with a friend, relative or hotel until demolition is complete even if your home will remain intact enough that you could live there. The choice to make other housing arrangements reduces the inconvenience, risk of injury and potential for delays during the project. Additionally, you should put any objects that would usually be in your yard in storage until after demolition. Move your vehicles, outdoor furnishings and children's toys.
  • You will sure demolish way much more than what you thought you would. Once the walls have been opened up, and unforeseen problems uncovered, it will typically make sense to remove more than originally planned.
  • It is highly recommended to strip all the floors and walls bare and unbury all the skeletons. For most significant remodels, it is recommended to strip all paint and wallpaper on brick walls and open up walls down to the studs. There always seems to be stuff hidden in the wall cavities from previous remodels. This is your opportunity to rectify any faulty electrical wiring, plumbing and lack of insulation in the walls.
  • Consider all the issues identified during your research and or the issues brought up by the demolition / remodel crew as their recommendations are based on their experience.
  • You will sure spend a decent portion of your project budget’s contingency on demolition. Because there are many unknowns and variables in the demolition phase, an unproportional amount of the contingency is inevitably consumed.
  • You’d be surprised how many items and materials can be reused or recycled from the demolition of a home. Be sure to do your research on this front in order to recycle as much material as possible, whether for use on your remodel or through the recycling centre in your local council.

If you choose to carry out a DIY Demolition Project

Be Prepared for the Mess

  • Demolition is a messy job and will uncover evidence of pet stains, rodents, insects, dust and debris, all of which adds up to one dirty job, so be prepared with a skip bin.
  • Skip bins are perfect for any trash and debris you come across during the process. Check with your local council for waste streams e.g. general, white goods, mattresses and e-waste.
  • If you really want to save money and help out others and the environment while you’re at it, then consider re-using, re-purposing, or selling whenever possible.
  • Timber and timber building products e.g. timber flooring and cabinets are excellent examples of things you may no longer want, but someone else may want to use in their remodel.
  • Before the heavy-duty work begins, make a note of any items you want to re-use, re-purpose, donate or sell.
  • If you have a fire pit, consider having a burn pile for the things that are safe to burn.
  • Once the work gets started, you’ll have an easy way to organize the mess, and you’ll have an idea of what you’ll be able to re-use, re-purpose, donate or sell.

Plan Your Attack

  • The order in which you carry out your demolition project hugely impacts your productivity, so think through your plan of attack before getting started. Some aspects of demo will take longer than others and should be accommodated accordingly.
  • For example, it’s always best to remove any carpeting first. This makes sweeping up nails and dust easier. Also, because cabinets take a while to build, existing cabinets should be removed early on so the new ones can be measured and assembled.

Gather Your Tools First 

  • Some tools are just plain invaluable when it comes to demolition projects, and they should be collected before the demolition starts to make things easy. The fewer trips you have to make to your Local Bunnings Store the better. What’s more, you’ll want to keep all your tools in one easy-to-access location, and always put them back after using them so you’re never left searching all over the place for your tools.
  • The following is a list of some of the most useful tools for a demolition project – crowbar, chisel, contractor grade trash bags, work gloves, lightweight hammer, utility knife and replacement blades, electric drill and bits, spray bottle for wallpaper removal, bucket for plumbing mishaps, broom and dustpan, dry vacuum machine with a filter that can suck up drywall dust, flat head screwdriver and protective goggles and masks.

Be Safe

  • Demolition isn’t as straightforward as swinging a sledgehammer. There are electrical wires, water pipes, loadbearing walls, and other things you will need to be sure to avoid. Not only can haphazard demolition lead to serious injury or death, but it can also add up to you paying much more than you bargained for.
  • The best way to be safe is to have your home's blueprint, including electrical, plumbing and structural drawings, on hand. That way you'll be able to know where all the important stuff is located and where you need to be extra careful.

Don't Be Afraid to Get Your Hands Dirty

  • With safety in mind and knowledge of the structural elements and the services behind the walls, don’t hesitate to use a sledgehammer. The main things you really don’t want to damage are electrical wiring, plumbing, loadbearing walls, and anything you plan on keeping, e.g. drywall, bathtub, etc.

Ask for Help

  • A demolition project doesn't have to be a tedious experience. Some people might appreciate the opportunity to swing a sledgehammer and take out some frustrations. As such, don’t be shy and ask friends or family to pitch in with some of the work in exchange for plenty of food and drinks and lots of appreciation.

If You Can't Handle the Project, Hire a Demolition Crew

If you have never overseen a demolition project or don’t feel confident and adequately prepared, don’t try and do it yourself. While it may seem straight-forward and cost-effective to undertake the demolition project yourself, the project might be very complicated especially. An experienced demolition crew knows how to carry out the demolition, which parts of the structure to keep and which ones to remove. In this case, the ideal situation is to have the remodel crew undertake the demolition project as they are best placed to know how to efficient and cost effectively carry out the demotion removing only what needs to be removed.

Hire The Right Demolition Crew

Hire a Professional Demolition Crew that has the proper licensing and experience for a project of your type. You may not know exactly which qualifications the crew needs until after your home inspection, so schedule a Pre-Demolition Inspection in advance.  

Disclaimer

Information provided in the text above is general in nature and does not consider your specific Demolition Project needs and requirements. The information is not professional advice and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on the information in the text above as an alternative to professional advice. If you have specific questions relating to this subject, we strongly recommend that you seek independent professional Demolition Project advice.