Tuesday, September 12, 2017

DIY Summer III: Demolition I

Having explained the concept in part II of this series, I now move on to demolition.  Demo is many people's favorite part of a construction project.  It's where you get to let loose with a sledge hammer and take out some of your frustrations.  Well, that is all well and good if you don't actually plan on living in and using your home during the remodel.  Unfortunately, my home needed to stay usable during the demo, so, I had to go a bit slower, be a bit cleaner, and avoid destroying the still-in-use kitchen.

I began by removing the walls concealing the chimney, the back entrance cavern, and the strange refrigerator cubby.  Here is before the demo began.

 The first picture is from the back entrance looking toward the small pantry.  The wall to the right of the pantry conceals the chimney.  The second picture looks from the kitchen toward the back entrance, the wall concealing the chimney, and the refrigerator cutout. .  All of this would have to go. \

 Taking off the wall plaster reveals the chimney.  This chimney had already been removed below the roofline, so at least this project would not include roofing.  But I still had to take the chimney down in the attic and then work in the kitchen.  Plaster walls are a bear.  Mine did not use the common wood lath with plaster on top.  Instead, my walls were constructed of 2'x3' plaster boards (a predecessor to drywall) with a layer of plaster on top.  All in all, the walls were 1" thick of plaster, making them hard to break and heavy to carry.

 At this point we hit the first major snag in the plan.  In the picture above, you can see the black pipe.  That is the main sewer exhaust pipe, and it is made of cast iron.  I could try and move it, or leave it in place.  If left in place, it would constrict my plans to push the kitchen wall all the way back to the left.  Add to this, the fact that the wall in line with the sewer pipe turned out to be load bearing. Ugh.  In the end, I decided to leave the sewer pipe and most of the load bearing section of the wall, which would mean holding the kitchen wall out about 2 feet from the left.

Taking down the chimney was absolutely the dirtiest job I have ever done.  I had help from my colleague, Dr. Ed Snyder.  Because I did not want to have to redo the tile floor, we had to be very careful.  I put down pads and blankets to protect the tile, then we basically removed the chimney brick by brick with a 4lb. hammer and pry bar. There was who knows how many years of grimy soot baked in to all the bricks and by the end of the day, both Ed and I were quite a sight.  After the chimney was removed below the floor line, I placed a couple pieces of plywood over the hole to avoid late night accidents. 

Next: Demo 2, openings in load bearing walls.

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