Build Your Own House

Remodeling - Renovation

Tearing Out and Rebuilding

There are two phases in renovation: tearing out and rebuilding. Both stages have their own set of challenges. Following is the general order of steps for the completion of the tearing down phase of a renovation project.

Wall Removal

This phase follows your master plan and blueprints. If only a few walls are to be removed, your carpenters can usually handle first the removal of the plaster or wallboard for those walls only. If all the plaster is to be removed from all the walls, remove the plaster before tearing out any walls. Your carpenter may want to hold off on wall removal until ready to do any additional framing or bracing. This is fine. Discuss this scheduling, as well as costs, in the planning stage.

Plaster Removal

Other than cutting holes to change wiring or plumbing, I recommend removing plaster only if it is severely cracked or falling down. Patching is always cheaper — even covering cracked walls with drywall is less expensive than totally gutting them. Keep in mind that all interior trim must be removed, and can seldom be saved, in total gutting. Allow one-half to one day per room, including trim removal. Plumbing removal may necessitate removing some plaster, but usually in small areas that can easily be patched. The time taken will vary with the difficulty of the job and the extent of work to be done.

Wiring and Plumbing Removal

If you are doing a total gut and have removed all the plaster or drywall, then this is the time to remove any plumbing pipes, electrical wiring, radiator pipes, or boilers you have decided to replace.

For New Additions

Clearing, grading, excavation, and hauling away trash are the first steps for new additions, and should take one to three days, depending on the scope of the job. Once the teardown work is complete, the fun part of the project begins. The following is the general order of steps for completion of the rebuilding phase of a renovation project.

Foundation, Concrete, and Brick Work

Adding or repairing footings and foundations, slab work in basements, and such brick work as chimneys, new foundations or other brick repairs can be completed before any of the items in this chapter is begun, but I prefer to do all the removal necessary before I start repairing anything. The only exception is the roof, which I will discuss momentarily. If your inspection engineer has reported or if there is evidence that water is or has been in the basement or crawl space, now is the time to call in your waterproofing subcontractor. Both types of space can be waterproofed from the inside, but it is best to do it from the outside. This often requires digging around the foundation and can be expensive, so be sure to get bids. If a footing drain is required, your waterproofing sub is responsible for installing it. Seek additional advice or opinions, if needed, from your architect, inspection engineer, or building inspector.

Rough Carpentry

Your carpenter is one of your key people, for he is needed from the onset of the project for plan review through the initial stages of renovation. This is the time to remedy all sags in an old house. Sags should always be taken care of prior to doing any new plumbing because correcting them can crack existing pipes.

It is wise to have your carpenter ask the electrician, plumber, and heating/air-conditioning subs what he can do to make their jobs easier. For example, many old houses have receptacles in the baseboards. Removal of the baseboard facilitates replacement of wiring, but the baseboard removal is a job usually handled by your carpenter. The same is true with the removal of kitchen cabinets to aid the plumber. Chases may need to be constructed for pipes, heat vents, A/C lines, and service wires. This is accomplished by furring out a wall, or building a box-like run from floor to ceiling in closets, or wall-to-wall along the ceiling at an inconspicuous place. These chases or furred areas may or may not be indicated on the plans. If they are not, your subs can work it out on the job.

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