Saturday we had our second “Demo Party”, where we invite friends and family to come demolish our house in exchange for food and drink, and it was a big success. We took down all of the plaster and lath in the foyer, including the stairwell, as well as the office on the second floor. Then we took out the remaining partition wall on the first floor and removed the stairs themselves.

Aaron and David get walled up

Aaron and David get walled up

Sarah and I had gotten the office empty Friday night. My sister Jessica came up and watched Derek while we continued the furniture rearranging and packing away of our stuff that we’d started Wednesday. Saturday morning two of her nephews, Aaron and David, armed with sledgehammers and masks volunteered to be the “trapped princesses” and went into the office while I built a wall where the door was. Once they were completely walled up, rather than wait to be rescued they simply hammered their way through the wall adjacent to the stairwell.

Breaking free

Breaking free

Sarah K, Dani, Matt B, and Eriq hauled the massive pile of lath was out to the dumpster along with the scrap wood pile. Unfortunately even before we got all of the lath into the dumpster we realized we had a problem: the dumpster wasn’t big enough. I had gotten a smaller dumpster than last time, foolishly believing that since we were demoing less we wouldn’t need as much room. I forgot to consider that the lath and scrap wood pile were leftovers from the last demo. Now I have to get another dumpster, which costs quite a bit more than if I had just gotten the big one in the first place. Oh well, I’ll know for next time.

Demo in progress

Demo in progress

The house didn’t originally have electricity, just gas lighting, and I spent a few minutes on Saturday taking out the piping that was still in the walls. It was retrofitted with BX armored cable with cloth-wrapped wiring, which  was run through the load bearing wall by threading it under door thresholds in the second floor and then down between studs in the wall. I disconnected all of this wiring a while back, but a lot of it was stuck, hanging from the ceiling.

Removing BX wiring
Removing BX wiring

Eriq, Will, and I took on the task of removing it. This involved literally climbing up the wall and alternately pushing and pulling the metal-armored cable through one segment at a time. I can’t imagine how this was put in while the walls were still plastered considering how hard it was to remove. We did manage to get all of it out and the only thing left to be removed from the bearing wall is a gas pipe that goes up to the attic for distributing the gas lighting.

Dean clearing lath

Dean clearing lath

Dean was able to get all of the ceiling in the office and stairwell down from above by getting into the attic. This also meant he didn’t get rained on with plaster dust and rat feces. I shoveled the plaster from the floor of the office down the stairs while Siobhan, Sarah K, Dani, and Matt B filled buckets and carried it to the dumpster. I filled and carried out buckets while Dean took the exciting job of getting on the ladder over the stairwell –sixteen feet up– to remove all of the plaster and lath from the walls.

Dani and Matt B on plaster removal

Dani and Matt B on plaster removal

The old lath pile was replaced by a new pile as the foyer demo was wrapped up and we got to work taking out the stairs. This took alternately a reciprocating saw and a sledgehammer to pry each tread loose, working our way down. When it was all said and done, the difference was incredible.

Sarah and her mom baked up lasagnas so we could wash up, eat, drink, and finally relax. This week the new dumpster will be swapped in and I can get the rest of the piles cleared out of the house, along with the plywood subfloor in the kitchen and a couple layers of flooring in the foyer.

A big thanks go out to everyone who gave up their Saturday to help us! Aaron, David, Eriq, Matt B, Sarah K, Dani, Dean, Siobhan, Will, Mike, and Lee, we couldn’t have done it without you!

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