We want to dig out the basement, and the only door is at the back. To be able to get a dumpster into the back yard and haul loads of dirt straight out, we need to tear down the back porch and the garage. We’re planning to replace both anyway, so doing it now makes sense. The back porch is a fully enclosed, two-story, vinyl-siding-clad beast. We took out the stairs from the first floor to the second a while back so we could put in the back sliding door, so it just has steps down to the back door and to the basement.

The first step was to move all of our accumulated stuff off the porch, including the old radiators. Fortunately I found a used radiator company to come and take them and even pay me a bit for the trouble. I disconnected and removed all the old electrical and moved the phone line box from the outside of the porch to the outside of the house.

Windows and doors removed

Windows and doors removed

Saturday morning I started work removing the doors and windows and was soon joined most of by Sarah’s family. We discovered that because the porch was enclosed after it was built, the walls weren’t integral to the structure. The walls consisted of some horizontal 2x4s attached to vertical beadboard, some of which was twenty feet long, and vinyl siding on top of that. While not very strong it held together remarkably well. The big challenge was the right side, where there was no landing or stairs to work from, just a big open space.

Walls coming down

Walls coming down (with Mike and Matt L)

We managed to rip down the right side of the wall in one giant piece. You can see from this photo how the floor only extends to the door in the middle of the house. With that piece down, the rest of the back wall was pretty straightforward.  The right side wall was a bit interesting. We wound up pulling the pieces of beadboard off individually and then the vinyl siding, which at that point was just hanging from itself.

Walls removed

Walls removed (with David and Matt L)

By that point is was evening and we wrapped up for the day. The next day we had a bunch of friends over to start working on the structure. The roof was an open question, since there wasn’t a great way to reach most of it. In hindsight, it may have been better to tear the porch down back when we took out the stairs, since having the landing would have made this process easier, plus we wouldn’t have had to worry about breaking the new sliding door with a piece of falling debris.

Roof removal

Roof removal

We used the ladders and a piece of fencing we bought to fill in the gap to shield the sliding door from the chunks of falling roof. We used a rope on the right column to pull it down after cutting it near the base with a chain saw. At first we tried the pictured system of pulleys to pull it down, but the angle was wrong so we wound up not using them. Unfortunately the porch beams were pocketed into the sheathing, so I have to go back and patch the holes in the outside wall before birds start nesting in the walls. I ordered an extension ladder as well, something that probably would have come in handy for this project, since the folding Werner ladders aren’t quite long enough.

Roof removed

Removing the last section of roof (with Dean, Matt B, and Drew)

We had a bit of a scare pulling down the last section of roof because the left column started to lean out, not only getting close to our power line, but pulling away from the beam that held up the second floor of the porch! After we got the roof section off things went quickly and we got the second floor structure removed. I also screwed the second floor door shut so we won’t have any accidents.

Finishing up

Finishing up (Dean and Matt B)

The first floor went pretty quickly too. We left the section by the stairs so we can still get in and out. We moved all of the drywall out of the garage and the freezer out of the basement and into the first floor, and then Dean and Matt built a new railing while I put up some house wrap over the sheathing and patched the lower two holes in the wall.

All done!

All done! (With Dean, Drew, and Hector)

We now have a massive pile of debris in the back yard (scroll back through the pictures to watch it grow). We’ll need to live with it until we get the garage torn down and a dumpster into the yard, but that should just be a few weeks. I plan to salvage some scrap material to build a ramp that we can use to get wheelbarrows of dirt into the dumpsters when we dig out the basement. This was a big two-day project and we couldn’t have done it without tons of help from family and friends.

A huge thanks go out to the Saturday crew: Mike, Lee, Matt L, Amy, Rob, Nicole, David, Collin, Dylan, and Dustin, as well as the Sunday crew: Dean, Hector, Drew, Anna, and Matt B. Thanks everyone!

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2 Responses to Back Porch Demo

  1. Once you get to excavating the basement: McCann rents portable conveyor belts. May be a good way getting the dirt out the basement and into the dumpster.

  2. Matt says:

    It’s definitely something I’ve considered. My next blog post will show my less automated solution.

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