2 Good Reasons Not To Attempt Your Own DIY Demolition

After binge-watching home improvement shows, you might feel like you can turn your cramped bungalow into an open-concept loft with a few whacks of a hammer and a little paint. Unfortunately, home renovation projects are usually a lot more complicated than they seem at first—a reality that can be financially devastating to homeowners. Here are two good reasons not to attempt your own DIY demolition, and what problems you might face if you try:

1: Load Bearing Walls Can Be Difficult To Spot

In the old days, homebuilders tended to compartmentalize floor plans, keeping dining, living, and food preparation areas separate. Unfortunately, these types of floor plans can make it hard to entertain guests and keep track of tiny tots, which is why a lot of homeowners love to tear down walls to create open-concept rooms.

Unfortunately, unless you work as an architect or a structural engineer, it isn't always easy to detect load-bearing walls, which support the weight of your home. Ripping away drywall and sawing down a few beams might not seem that difficult, but if that wall was load bearing, you could end up with these problems:

  • Weakened Structure: Sometimes, homeowners mistakenly assume that if they cut down a wall and there are no immediate problems, they are in the clear. Unfortunately, even if issues don't pop up right away, those changes could weaken your home's structure. For example, your place might not hold up as well during an earthquake, or your place might slowly cave in over the course of several years.
  • Uneven Flooring: After you alter the structural integrity of your home by removing load-bearing walls, your upper level flooring might start to sink, creating an unlevel surface. Hardwood planks might crack or warp, and carpet might look gathered as the floor dips below the stretched material.
  • Home Value: Structural repairs aren't easy to fix. Professional contractors might have to remove drywall, tie in additional beams to sustain the load, repair floor joists, and have a structural engineer approve the changes. Because of the amount of damage that a single wall removal can cause, taking out the wrong beams could significantly decrease your home's value.

To avoid trouble, hire a professional demolition service to handle your wall removal. In addition to being able to recognize important structural components like steel girders and posts, demolition contractors might be able to keep your home strong during construction. For example, if they start taking out a wall and notice cut floor joists, a demolition contractor might be able to jack up the area to prevent additional damage.   

2: Trashing The Wrong Debris Could Cost You

When you are in the middle of a home renovation, ripping out old carpet and dated cabinets is only part of the job. After you have everything taken down, you have to dispose of it somehow. Although you might figure that you can simply rent a dumpster and fill it to the brim, there are several rental rules that you might not be familiar with. Here are just a few ways trashing the wrong stuff could cost you:

  • Prohibited Items: Because toxic chemicals and heavy metals can seep into the ground and contaminate the water supply, most dumpster rental companies will fine you for tossing common construction debris like paint cans, old appliances, fluorescent light bulbs, and adhesives.
  • Tonnage Fees: Because hauling ultra-heavy loads can damage city streets, every dumpster has a weight limit you need to abide by. Unfortunately, if you ignore the guideline and fill your dumpster with heavy materials like landscaping rocks, demolished pavement, and drywall, you might be fined a tonnage fee. Although these fees can vary from state to state, they can add up fast. For example, in Boston, the average fee for each additional ton of weight is $95.    

By working with a professional and avoiding dangerous DIY demolition, you might be able to keep your home and family safe, while protecting your pocketbook.