Garage teardown suggestions?
October 6, 2012 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Best way to tear down a garage? It's about a 1 and a half car and completely wood.
posted by mrflibble to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and to clarify, I don't have access to big equipment. Just a recip saw, a sledge hammer and a couple other guys.
posted by mrflibble at 2:11 PM on October 6, 2012

If it's detached, and not too close to another structure, offer it to the fire department to do a practice fire. (I think they still do these things).
posted by HuronBob at 2:14 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do you want to tear down the garage (demolish it) or deconstruct it so the pieces are salvageable and can be reused?.

The easy, fastest and probably cheapest way is to rent a small excavator and go to town on it (most rental places will deliver) and empty it into a dumpster to be hauled off (probably a few times).

The next is to start at the top and start cutting stuff off and through it in the dumpster. I would first remove and wiring and doors and such that come off easily and quickly and can be reused or at least have immediate salvage value (a door over two sawhorses or barrels makes a great work bench). Use demolition blades in your saws and wear eye protection at least. this is dangerous work and a skill just like putting up a building is.

And if you are deconstructing you need to undo each item, sort and stack as you go. This takes a while but you will be amazed at how much usable material there is in even a rotting structure that is in danger of failing down.
posted by bartonlong at 2:21 PM on October 6, 2012

Before you tear it down, figure out what your local ordinances say about "new construction" vs. "rebuild". We had to go through a bunch of nonsense with our teardown because once it was demolished, rebuilding it was somehow "new construction" to which a mess of other bureaucracy applied.
posted by mhoye at 2:24 PM on October 6, 2012

Weaken the lowest areas of the uprights with your saw, pull it all sideways with a chain and a truck? Salvage from that pile?
posted by Freedomboy at 2:28 PM on October 6, 2012

Response by poster: HuronBob: Hah - Brilliant! However the houses on the street are pretty close together.

bartonlong: Purely demo & renting a big dumpster. Thanks for the input.

mhoye: Thanks for the foresight. It's always nice to have an idea of how the city is going to mess with you.

Freedomboy: Good idea, not sure if we'll have a truck available but if we do that will be plan A. Thanks!
posted by mrflibble at 2:33 PM on October 6, 2012

You'll want to sort of go in reverse order of how it was built. Yes, get rid of anything small first. You'll probably want a wrecking bar or two -- they'll be greatly helpful when you're prying off siding and shingles. The key is to leave the structural wood for last -- you want to get off all the shingles, pry off all the siding (lots of crowbar work!), and take out any interior drywall before you go to town on the 2x6 studs and rafters (I'm assuming typical American light frame construction). Don't touch anything structural until everything else is gone! And bartonlong is correct -- you'll have a *lot* of salvageable material left over. Good luck -- sounds like fun!
posted by ariel_caliban at 2:46 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: ariel_caliban: Thanks, that definitely sounds like the safest method. Keeps me from having to have one of those "What a way to go." self reflecting moments.
posted by mrflibble at 3:07 PM on October 6, 2012

The problem with the "use a bobcat to push the structure over" is that then you have the roof structure just sitting on the ground, where it still needs to be demolished. If you have something with a bucket, that's not an issue. Otherwise you and whoever you can rope into helping you will get the enviable task of going to town with a pry bar, a sledge, and an axe. IMO, it's easier to deconstruct when you can get on both sides of it.

Obviously, if you want to save anything, you pretty much have to (relatively carefully) deconstruct rather than just whacking at stuff until you have small enough pieces to fit into the dumpster.
posted by wierdo at 3:10 PM on October 6, 2012

Best answer: Yup, ariel_caliban is right, top down. Does this have a pitched or a flat roof?

IANAContractor, but depending on the roof, and with no heavy equipment, I would say you could possibly:

- switch off utilities.

- if you have shingles and a lawn, having a few tarps around saves you having to pick shingles out of the grass.

- shingles off. If you can, you can do this by walking horizontally across the roof and ramming a flat shovel under the tar paper and moving forward, in effect rolling them up into a big roll that falls off the end of the building.

- ply off the roof. Watch where you're stepping.

- ceiling down (if there is one).

- depending on roof configuration, you'll need to get the ridge beam off and the rafters down. Can't advise here as I can't see the roof but as it is a small structure I would try and detach it from any middle rafters first, then detach from the end rafters by having a ladder against an external wall. Leave all collar ties etc. on the rafters.

- pull the rafters down - they might just swing down and hang upside down.

- siding or drywall off. Whichever one you get off first, you can punch through to the other side. Maybe drywall is easier to remove in sheets, then punch the sidewall off. Or punch the drwall through onto the concrete pad.

- take down the remaining frame.

Be careful, get some safety equipment (gloves goggles hard hats).

Tools: You have a sledgehammer, but a gorilla bar and a couple of small pry bars are also useful, as is maybe a heavy hand framing hammer (e.g. an Estwing 'wafflehead'). There are basically two schools of demo, the lever school and the impact school, and you need tools for both.

Maybe some contractor bags to stop loose crap blowing around. Some rope to pull the rafters down, maybe. Borrow a wheelbarrow?

Finally think about how to place the dumpster so you can minimize carrying stuff, maybe if possible throw stuff in off the roof.
posted by carter at 3:52 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh and get some dust masks too.
posted by carter at 4:02 PM on October 6, 2012

Weekend before the demo, post some pics to Craigslist, Facebook, Kijiji, and offer any parts of the garage to anyone who needs lumber, a garage door, and old window, trusses, etc. Set up some lawn chairs and see if you can get anyone to come and do some of the work for you (including hauling junk away, which is half the work in my experience).
posted by Nightman at 4:43 PM on October 6, 2012

I'm not going to tell you that you can't do the careful, step-by-step disassembly that has been recommended a couple of times. It's going to be the safest and cleanest approach, definitely, and you will (eventually) get the job done that way.

But if I was doing it (and I had my demo permit from the city in hand, and knew for a fact that there was no asbestos in the structure), I'd prefer to rent an excavator with a bucket-thumb, but if that wasn't possible I'd just go buy a big packet of demolition blades and pretty much work my way down from the top. Think twice before you cut because it would suck to collapse a wall on your friend, wear eye, ear, and dust protection, and make sure the utilities are off.

But seriously, this isn't rocket science, and there's no reason to be all delicate about the job. The walls and roof are easiest to just section off in manageable chunks with siding and drywall and lumber all still attached; you definitely don't need to peel things back layer by layer.
posted by Forktine at 4:53 PM on October 6, 2012

Ditto Forktine: slice it up into pieces as large as you can manhandle to the dump. Trying to disassemble old wood can be very discouraging; it splits, tears and breaks into sharp unmanageable fragments.

Nightman's suggestion is great, of course! Add Freecycle to Craigslist for best exposure to people who'll be glad of old wood for fences, fires, whatever. Be a spectator instead of being the worker.
posted by anadem at 5:55 PM on October 6, 2012

What Forktine said and I would add that if you can get your hands on a Partner Saw it would make the job much easier.
posted by mlis at 6:46 PM on October 6, 2012

Oh and cheap safety boots (steel toes at least) - you can get these at Walmart for about $25. They save your toes if you drop anything, hopefully they'll protect against stepping on nails, and also you can use them to kick stuff apart.

I know this looks like a shopping list - but think of what you are saving on a demo contractor ...
posted by carter at 7:52 PM on October 6, 2012

What worked for me was a huge bar, like 6 ft long, very heavy with a blunt end and chisel like end, a poke with that had momentum.

I'd be concerned about liability if strangers were involved, be very careful.
posted by sammyo at 7:12 AM on October 7, 2012

Response by poster: carter: Thanks for the detailed response! And it is pitched.

b1tr0t: Thanks for the foresight advice. I'll definitely poke around a bit before starting.

Forktine: I think I will do somewhere in between. And thanks for the tip on the blades. I have a ton but no demos.

mlis: That looks like a fun tool! I definitely want one!

Nightman: Like sammyo said, there's an issue of liability in there. Someone gets hurt in the US of Lawsuit America and we be screwed.

sammyo: That 6 foot iron bar is my favorite tool in the world. Better than a golf shooting range when it comes to letting off some steam too. And ditto on the liability.

If I missed anyone, Thanks for all the great advice and ideas. I definitely feel more comfortable about the task at hand.
posted by mrflibble at 7:53 AM on October 7, 2012

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