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House Build Diary 5 - Old House Demolition Beginning

On our second build, we were able to rent the house next door and keep a close watch on the build and the construction site. After moving out we worked to find ways of reusing items from the house. There was a glass sunroom that we donated to a man who wanted it. He came and marked then disassembled it and took it away. This removed a lot of potential broken glass from the site. We also took the hot water heater, the AC/Heat units, and the radon fan for use in the new house. Some items from older houses may not meet the building code such as toilets that don't have limited water usage or AC/Heat units with a poor SEER rating. We had a radon fan in the old house and assumed it would be needed for the new one so we had the radon exhaust pipe installed during the construction.

This is the little old house for the second build that we tore down. I started counting the build days at the point we started having the gas, water, electricity, telephone, and Internet items disconnected. This was day 25. All of these must be turned off and then physically disconnected. The vendors cut and cap the lines and then provide a letter stating that the service is fully removed. We sent the letters to the county and once they had all the letters and we had paid the required fees we were able to get the demolition permit.

Getting the telephone disconnect letter was fun. We had only used cell phones with no landline at the house. The previous owner had possibly done the same. When we called Verizon to disconnect the line they said we needed an account and a phone number to disconnect the line. I explained we had never had a landline account at this location but their records showed a line attached but they could not remove it without an account. We contacted the county who referred us to a person at Verizon who was on vacation but was apparently the only person at the company who could fix this problem. When she returned she plugged something into the computer then somebody came and removed the line. Not that this was difficult but it did cause a delay. We started the demolition on day 33.

For the second build, we had a manual teardown which took about 70 days to complete. There were several people working on the house teardown and removal which took about 40 days and the removal of the foundation which took about 30 days. On our first build, the builder used heavy equipment to tear the house apart and dump trucks to remove the debris. It took about a week for this. If I built another house I would definitely use equipment to tear down the house and not have it torn down by hand. The first house we tore down sat on a concrete block foundation wall and had a dirt crawlspace so there was no significant foundation to remove.

Here is the old duplex house that we tore down for the first build.

Here it is after the demolition crew used a bobcat to crash into the sides of the house and remove the brick exterior. The brick was later used to fill the front and side porches of the new house.

Here is the front of the house stripped of brick and the windows and doors had already been removed and taken to Habitat for Humanity. They brought an excavator with large metal jaws that bit large chunks out of the house and put it into the waiting dump trucks. It was amazing to watch.

By the end of the first week, nothing was left of the original house.

The second build had a much longer and more expensive demolition. On Day 52 we were able to get the water and sewer lines capped. First, the miss utility people come and mark the area to keep from digging up something like this gas main in the front yard.

Miss utility has a variety of color codes.

The plumber with a backhoe was digging for the water and sewer lines. Unfortunately, the water valve in the yard had been buried years ago and it was hard to find the water and sewer lines.

Eventually, he found the water valve line and followed it down to the water and sewage lines which were about six feet underground.

On Day 56 we donated the windows from the house. The electricity and water had been turned off for over a month at that point so there was no point in hanging onto the windows.

On Day 57 the gas which had previously had the meter removed and line capped at the meter location had the incoming gas line cutoff and capped.

Two men were able to dig this four-foot-deep hole in about an hour then cut and cap this line and bury it again.

The little yellow wire beside the gas line is a metal line to mark the gas line so they can find it with a detector after it is buried.

They mark it because they will need to find it again to connect to the new house. Another fun gas fact is you have to order the new gas line approximately six months before you need it connected. This was capped on day 57 and the new one was installed on day 340. So about three months into the build you need to get it ordered!


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