Kitchen Tear Out - Did you do it yourself?

kelvarAugust 12, 2009

To save money, we're thinking of doing it ourselves. It's a small enough kitchen and we should get it torn out in a day. What kind of surprises or problems did you have? Anything to be on the look out for?

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Well, for sure look out for asbestos containing items that are fine when left alone, but let fibers in the air when broken, mold which can aerosolize, and other toxic nasties. If it's an old place there could be all kinds of unexpected things in the walls like unexpected wiring and capped off gas lines. My GC uses a specialist who can deal with whatever he finds, and can properly dispose of all the bits.

Other than that? Have fun!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 11:05PM
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Yes, we just finished on Monday. Our kitchen was also not real big - about 12 ft by 13 ft, but we tore out the family room at the same time. The whole thing took us 3 days. The kitchen took about two days.

Our house was built in 1970 and some of the appliances were original. Some of the surprises were - The drop in range was hardwired. The shut off valve for the ice maker wouldn't completely stop the water - we got it down to a drip and put the hose in a 5 gallon bucket, and our GC handled it when he got here on Monday. Our dishwasher was badly wired into two different circuits. Our cabinets were glued to each other and could not be seperated without sawing them apart - too heavy to take out as one piece. Oh, and we broke our old fridge because we lost control of the dolly on the steps down to our garage and so we are currently using our son's old "dorm" fridge! My advice there would be to not decide to move heavy appliances late in the evening when you are already tired. :)

Some things that were easier than we had thought. We didn't try to scrape the vinyl floor up - we just pulled up the plywood from the sub floor. And the laminate countertop was a snap. We rore out soffits and were pleasantly surprised that they were clear of plumbing and electrical. We had poked some holes to look during planning, but it was still good to know we hadn't missed anything.

All in all I wouldn't change a thing and I'm glad we did it. We were tired and sore but we actually had a really good time through most of it! I loved throwing that ugly old stuff into a dumpster.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 11:18PM
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How much tear out are you doing? Down to the studs, just taking the cabinets off the walls, taking out floor, etc? Depends on what you're demo'ing, but for the most part it's pretty straightforward. Just don't grab the sledgehammer and start going nuts like they do on TV, it doesn't work in real life unless you don't have a problem with smashing into unexpected vents and plumbing and electrical :)

Suprises for us were mostly of the nature, "Holy crap! This electrical is frightening and how in the world hasn't the house burned down by now?" Which translates to, "OMG - how much money is this going to cost to fix?" My house is 97 years old, but I hear stories like this from houses young and old, so be prepared for some not-so-great surprises like that if you're doing a big demo.

Have fun! I think there's a direct relation to how horrible your current kitchen is to how enjoyable demoing it is :)

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 11:24PM
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We did our own tear out in our 1968 (1963 mabey)home. Or should I say I stood there and watched my husband do it. My husband is not in construction but a do-it-yourselfer. We did not have any unexpected issues but mabey it was because we bought the house 2 years ago and my cousin did a THOROUGH inspection. We tore it down to the studs and wiring was where expected and so on. It is not a huge kitchen mabey 14ft by 20ft (just a guess). Good luck and keep us posted!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 11:37PM
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This has been another "goodie" to read. We're getting ready to do the tear out, and we already found five layers of flooring and subfloor--the bottom one being a 1930 print linoleum that looks funky and fun...but it's going bye-bye, too. Our GC thinks we're looking at mucho asbestos, so we'll have to deal with that (respirators, spraying, and so on. Having it professionally done would break the bank, I think). I thought I'd remove all the obnoxious wallpaper, and then the GC said he'd take it all down to the studs. So, I'm going to let him do that.

We'll be on the lookout for surprises. The adventure awaits. Makes me tired to think of it.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 12:11AM
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Donnakay2009, I lost my father to Mesothelioma. That's cancer caused by asbestos. If there is any chance you will encounter asbestos in your kitchen tear out hire the professionals. It only takes ONE microscopic fiber that works its way into your lung to possibly cause this cancer. Your life is worth more than any price the professionals will charge you!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 12:46AM
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Oh, yeah. Tore it down to the studs. It was fun, nasty, dirty, and inspirational. There is something about seeing your space so, uh, naked that you get all these ideas. You also get to see how things are run into a wall that is shared by another room on the other side. You also get to decide to do "while we're at it" stuff while the walls are open.

If you have it, get ready to hate drywall dust. Eegad. Yuck. Also, second on the three layers of flooring. Our vinyl floor in the kitchen wasn't on a plywood subfloor, it was on a particle board "add-on" subfloor, that when we tried to pull up would just disintegrate and pulverize into poker chip-size bits in between the gazillion staples they used. HOURS on the floor with pliers.

Get ready to say, and often: "What were they thinking?"

The only asbestos we have run into in this house was the cottage cheese ceiling (when we moved in ten years ago) and we had that professionally removed (after it tested positive) by a professional. In fact, they are so thorough that there is a paper trail assigning me the owner of all that hazardous waste. Yes, it was an expense, but I would forego maybe something else before taking a chance. Hardly anybody, even contractors, take it seriously - but we did.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 1:45AM
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To clarify, our house is 10 years old. There shouldn't be any asbestos to worry about. We are not going down to the studs. We're leaving the drywall in place where ever possible. The tear out will be removing the cabinets, appliances, countertops, and backspash tile. The floor is already hardwood and staying in place. The new kitchen is using the same footprint of the old layout. It "should" be pretty straightforward which is why we'd like to try it ourselves and save the dollars. We're already way over budget...every little bit counts at this point.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 8:42AM
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Circus Peanut

sleeve, we did just that in our c. 11x14 kitchen: took out cabinets, formica counters, appliances and some bits of plasterboard wall. It took about a day and was not difficult. Arm yourself with a good powered screwdriver to get the cabinet screws out, and some good sets of arms to lug/carry everything outside. Don't even try to remove the tile itself, just cut out the wallboard it's on and lift it out in sections.

We gave our cabs to Habitat for Humanity, which was a bonus since they had free pickup with their box truck, and we managed the rest without having to rent a dumpster. Otherwise, you might want to consider how you're gonna get all the demo materials to the recycling station or city dump -- the sheer bulk adds up FAST.

Have fun! And make sure to get a really good quality double-filter mask (the kind Scotch makes for $80 with replaceable filters, worth its weight in gold).

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 8:55AM
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We plan to tear out our kitchen to the studs. Tell your friends and family. We have people begging to help us. They love doing this kind of thing. We're in zoning purgatory right now and our friends keep calling "When's the demolition?"

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 8:58AM
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Sleevepresto, It sounds like you can TOTALLY handle your demo phase. You'll just have to go slower than the rest because you don't want to jeopardize ruining any of the sheetrock or such. It's definitely a good way to save a few bucks!

If you were doing more of a "gut," I'd just recommend you have a professional come out at times to check anything that looked "ify" to you. We had some crazy gutting to do and when we went to take out the 4th layer of flooring, we realized it was the only thing holding up a bearing wall!!!! It was very helpful to have a professional come out at times to make sure we were doing anything that would jeopardize the integrity of the house! ;-)

Just for fun, I included a pix of our gutted space, complete with the 17 foot deep artisan's well that we found! Looking at it now makes me shiver and wonder how we ever got to where we are now! Hopefully in a couple of weeks I'll have my complete finished kitchen pix to share! ***Sigh of relief*****

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 9:44AM
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Good on you for self-reliance!

I would talk to your contractor (assuming you have one) to ask if he/she knows of anything tricky about your specific project. And so it's not a surprise.

I have heard of people getting happy with the Sawzall, not being familiar with the wiring or plumbing plans (or having helpers who weren't) or things where they weren't supposed to be and ... zzzzzzip! So don't do that.

Saving beers for AFTER helps cut down on bad judgement!

Thinking of things like protecting the floor (which you say you want to keep BEFORE you start helps. My contractor used rhinoboard, a reusable compressed paper product that you're supposed to be able to drive forklifts over. That way if you drop a tool or a cabinet or a big chunk of tile, you won't damage the floor. And obviously turn off all the electric, water and gas to that part of the house.

I would also say the biggest thing you can do to help yourself is ALL agree, before you start, that if you reach a point where you are in over your heads, STOP. Don't hurt yourselves (very common!) or create a situation that's going to be expensive to fix by blasting away at something. Like that upper cabinet that refuses to budge -- until the middle of the night when it lets go, smashing into your floor and damaging a pipe. If something looks too huge or too complicated or too dangerous to do safely, leave that thing for the professionals and move on to things you can do safely by yourselves.

Even if you just end up doing some simple things and cleaning up, that's some hours saved.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 12:13PM
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Took us one day to demo it. The biggest challenge was removing the soffits. Had to cut out the studs.

Another laborious part was removing the stapled plywood floor. we replaced it with thicker plywood to install travertine.

There were thousands of staples that had held the old plywood down. finally i had to hire help for a couple of hours to pull up the plywood.

Its actually fun demoing :) It gives you hope and excitement for the new kitchen...

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 12:22PM
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Yes, we did our own tear out, too. The contractor wanted $900 plus dumping fees. We did it slowly over a period of time, removing the top cabinets first and then the lower cabinets, but we did need the contractor's help to remove the stubborn peninsula. I can't remember now what was holding it up--perhaps the plumbing which was leaking.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 1:07PM
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Oh! In that case, sure you can do it. Not only put board over your floors but furniture pads as well to help prevent dents if you drop something. If you have to use a pry bar remember to put a thickish board behind it so it doesn't dent the wall.

BTW, since they're so new, unless they're crap, you can try to save your cabinets, rather than demolishing them, and have someone like Habitat for Humanity pick them up. It's often even possible to pry up tiles and countertops whole and send them along for reuse. It takes more time and effort, but someone can benefit from your castoffs, and you can claim it as a donation on your taxes.

Good luck! And have fun.

Another BTW, I don't know if you have any gas appliances. Where I am the gas company will come out and disconnect them for free to make sure everything is safe. (They're very anti-boom.)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 2:01PM
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pllog...that gave me a laugh...anti-boom!

growlery - I've never heard of rhinoboard. A quick google search shows it to be a subfloor type material? Is that what you're referring to? Is this something Home Depot or Lowes would have? Anyone?

Thanks all for the suggestions for the cabinets. They're actually in perfect shape; we just don't like them. They're more of a builder grade/off the shelf kind of look. Habitat would be a good place to send them off to. We're tearing out corian countertops. Not sure if they're usable to someone but you never know. The appliances - we were going to Craigs list them.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 10:18AM
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We were totally DIY, except for the granite. The soffits were the worst. Blown in insulation that we could not get at in the attic corners ended up all over the kitchen floor (1 foot deep). But a broom, snow shovel, contractor bags and shop vac took care of that. We used a roof scraper for the vinyl floor and I soaked towels and laid on the stubborn glue spots to wet them and scraped them off. The 70's wallpaper was not bad as we scored it and sprayed it with a water/fabric softener combo before pulling it down. The whole tear out was a weekend. We put up plastic on the doorways to try to keep the dust contained. Haha, ended up giving up on that. Lotsa garbage! Those contractor bags are great. Get a bunch. We had fun getting rid of the ugly mess!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 10:51AM
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We just had counters installed, and no, we did not do the demo. DH and I are really not handy, and painting and moderate tile work is our limit. Since we were using the same cabinets, we did not want to mess anything up.

I watched them do it, and there is defintely a method to the madness. I'm glad I paid someone.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 11:32AM
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We did ours ourselves too. I'm so glad we did. We just went slowly. Most of our cabinets were impossible to take out in one piece, here's some of the stuff I remember.

1-We took the time to pound any nails sticking out over. I thought it was a waste of time, until later when we were dropping off at the city site. Worth the time to make safer.
2-We had a soffit I was planning on leaving so that we wouldn't have to make repairs to the ceiling. That didn't work out, it was attached to the cabinets. Don't go in expecting exact results. Things change around.
3-SLOW AND CAREFUL!! I had to repair two unnecessary holes in the wall because my fiance was having fun doing 'demo' like they do on TV. We were trying to salvage the walls (to save on costs and avoid turning it into a 'permit' job).
4-Plumbing and gas - I went shopping before hand to find a cap for the gas for the stove, it was a little confusing because I'm not well-versed in gas pipes. I managed to have the right thing on hand, though, thanks to the friendly neighborhood hardware store - it made me feel safer. The sink, though, I was unprepared for - apparently gases can come out of a uncapped waste pipe for the sink. We ended up just stuffing ours with a rag and duct taping it - worked out.
5-Like anything else, if you're doing with a significant other, schedule breaks and have snacks. This is the sort of project that is PRIME for starting a ridiculous tension filled fight (see #3, with unnecessary wall holes!)

It just took us a few hours, we were pleasantly surprised. One more thing, if it's just two of you doing it and there are appliances involved, I HIGHLY recommend getting a set of those 'forearm forklifts' - it made moving appliances SO much easier, and I'm pretty wimpy

Have fun! There was something really satisfying about doing the demo ourselves. And, if we HAD had our contractor do it, I'm sure I would have been kicking myself for 'wasting' the money. Unless, like folks said, you need abatement for asbestos. Some things are worth paying the professionals for!

Here is a link that might be useful: Forearm Forklift

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 11:57AM
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Wow, I wish we had seen those forearm forklifts prior to our remodel! I about killed myself. My end of everything was about 1" from the floor and DH's was a foot. It killed my back!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 2:12PM
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cininohio - I KNOW! It's just us, and we moved the fridge once without the forearm forklift... it caused great yelliness in our household! Remodels are hard enough on relationships... every little bit helps!

Besides, I literally could NOT have helped move the stove without these. It's amazing! Normally I make fun of those 'as seen on TV' things, but these were worth it - they have little handloops to hold on to, otherwise, I suppose you could just use pieces of webbing, if you have some around.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 2:31PM
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We just demolished our 14x18 kitchen last Sunday (not even 1 day). My DH and DS helped and she is a do-er - doesn't mind a lot of hard work. We had a small crow bar, a saws all and hammers. We built our house/kitchen in 1978 so we knew where all the wiring and heating duct work was. The really hard part was to peel the decorative cork (gag) off the wall behind the refrigerator and in every place between the lower and upper counters. We needed putty knives and hammers. Our finish carpenter LOVED glue and nails! The counter was persimmon colored laminate (gag) and was cut out in sections. The brown linoleum (gag) pulled up relatively easily but left some areas of heavy glue.

All 3 of us moved the old refrigerator into the dining room so we can have cold food and 2 of us pushed the old stove outdoors to be taken to metal scrap. The microwave was put on the sideboard in the dining room so we can eat. I'll make use of the slow cooker (crock pot) also.

The installer saw the kitchen after demo and advised us that we will need the wall board plastered in the area the cork was in because it left thick layers of glue and pulled off the top layer of dry wall. We will also need to sand the plywood floor to accept the base layer for a china or granite tile.

The only think that freaked me out was there was a mouse nest under the lazy susan and mice feces up on the heating duct which was enclosed by a soffit. I can't figure that one out. So it pays to have the sink functional until the end of demo and wear a face mask.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 8:52PM
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