One place homeowners can save money on their renovation is in the demolition phase. Rather than paying a contractor to perform the relatively unskilled task of demolishing a kitchen, for example, many choose to strip out dated countertops, cabinets and appliances themselves. In addition to the savings, many homeowners experience a special kind of joy when they a take sledgehammer to an ugly kitchen that they’ve been wanting to replace since they moved in. Before you start swinging, though, it’s important to consider the logistics and, more importantly, the safety precautions.
Have a Schedule (and Stick to It)
It sounds simple, but keeping to a schedule will minimize the amount of time your kitchen is out of commission. No matter how ugly your kitchen is now, it will be even uglier after you demo it and you won’t want to look at it for very long. Plus, you won’t be able to cook or store food until it’s put back together again.
If you’re using a contractor to install the new kitchen, it is important to know when they’ll begin work and to start the demolition far enough in advance of that date so that the work is done before that date, but not so far in advance that your kitchen is non-functional for weeks before the first trades shows up. Understand the contractor’s schedule and make sure they stick to it. If you’re DIY’ing the entire renovation, a schedule is just as important. Your time is the currency with which you will pay for much of the renovation. If you don’t stick to a schedule, you’ll spend more of your valuable time than you estimated and if the demolition doesn’t get done in a timely manner, every other step in the process backs up and the project could ultimately drag on for months.
Rent a Skin Bin
Don’t underestimate the amount of rubble you will generate. The demolition of the average-sized kitchen will create six cubic meters of debris. You’re going to need a skin bin. Make sure it is on site before you start. Yes, you can pile the garbage up outside and put it in a dumpster later, but that’s nearly double the work.
Save What You Can
Not every single thing in your kitchen necessarily needs to be discarded. In many cases, cabinets can be saved, reused and even improved. Painting or refinishing old but well constructed cabinets often represents a considerable savings with an equally attractive result to new cabinets. To take it an extra step, add molding to cabinet doors to dress them up and replace the hardware. If you choose this route, gently remove the cabinet doors by unscrewing the hinges. Label the back of the drawers to avoid confusion when you reinstall.
You also may or may not be replacing the floor as part of your project. If you’re not replacing it, make sure you cover it with a drop cloth. This will prevent scratches when you move large appliances in and out. Throughout the demolition, take care not to drop heavy objects on any surface you’d like to preserve.
Turn off the Water
The last thing you want is water spraying all over the place when you remove the sink. All water to the kitchen needs to by capped off by a licensed plumber. Make sure they are turned off before you do anything. If your freezer has an ice maker, that means there is a water supply line running to it. Make sure you shut that off too.
Worse than a large water spill is shocking yourself with a bolt of electricity while you’re tearing down a wall. To prevent this, a licensed electrician needs to safely disconnect the electricity to the kitchen. Make sure it stays off during demolition. Cover the breaker that serves the kitchen with a piece of tape so that you, and any contractors coming in and out of your house, know not to turn it back on.
Turn off the Gas
A gas leak can be worse yet. If you have gas appliances, make absolutely sure that the gas to them is shut off. Gas valves are typically behind the appliance and the appliance is usually connected to the main gas line with a flexible hose. This will allow you to move the appliance away from the wall far enough so that you can access the valve. Exercise extreme caution when moving the appliance so you don’t damage or disconnect this hose. A licensed gasfitter should be consulted when disconnecting gas appliances.
A kitchen demolition is not a project to be taken lightly. While it’s true that a confident do-it-yourselfer can take it on and save some money in the process, it’s also true that jumping into it with no planning can cause delays and even be dangerous. Like any project, the more you know before you start, the better off you’ll be.
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