10 Important Steps for a Seamless DIY Home Demo

DIY home demo is a great way to save money on a renovation. We’re talking hundreds just doing it yourself. And hey, it’s a nottabad full body workout, too. Know what I’m sayin?! 

It might be a dirty job, but if you play your cards right, you’ll be ready to swing that hammer and save a dime every time. Heck, you might even make a few bucks to put toward the project. 💰

Fact: My latest bathroom demo came to a whopping total of $75 smackaroos: $60 to rent a demolition hammer and $17 toward the dump drop. Prettttty good.

10 Important Steps for a Seamless DIY Home Demo | Renovation Tips | JessicaBrigham.com

Set a Realistic Timeframe

Under promise, over deliver. Base your demo timeframe on the size of your project. For example: in my 12-ft. by 20-ft. kitchen, I’d estimated seven to ten days, and for my 5-ft. by 8-ft. bathroom, three days. In the kitchen, we nailed it in five, and the bathroom in 1.5 day’s time. 

You’ll serve yourself tremendously by being over prepared and padding in extra time instead of worrying your tail off. Plus, you’ll need the space clear to get critical utilities completed before any major feat—i.e.; electric and plumbing.

Make a Detailed Demo List

Want to stay on deadline? MAKE A TO-DO LIST! List out the entire process from start-to-finish and leave no dusty detail unturned. From storing decor, what stays, what goes, to the heavy banging, make a checklist and tick off one box atta time. 

BONUS! Download my detailed bathroom demo checklist here

Have the Right Tools

The key to any project is to have the right tools to get the job done. Even the most well-stocked tool boxes might be lacking in all of the (power) tools required. 

Consider the task at hand, gather your proper tools (crowbar, pry bar, hammer, wrenches, ratchet sockets, brooms, trash bin, shop vac, etc.) and/or determine rental tools, if necessary. If you’re removing floor tile, a demolition hammer with the right bit will save you hours. Time is money, people.


Protect Floors (Especially Hardwood!)

Before getting started, cut-to-size and tape down a heavy-duty temporary floor protection. This will allow contractors to roam free and keep your mind at ease. I highly recommend Ram Board because it’s lightweight, tough as nails, easy to cut and reusable. 

Eliminate Dust, ABAP

As best as possible, that is. Dust is impervious, especially in an old house like mine where long, continuous studs frame the exterior walls from top-to-bottom (balloon frame). Your best bet is to seal up every pore, where possible.

A few options to consider: use a heavy-duty vinyl drop cloth, cut-to-size, and painter’s tape to seal up passageways. Close ducts (registers) and do the same. Stuff thick blankets in stud bays (better than nothing). Cover and tape any cracks in between floors. Clean up with a super sucker shop vac and a quick once over with a slop-mop will help eliminate dust ABAP.

Sell What You Can

Recoup your costs by selling anything of value. You’ll have to be a bit more cautious during demolition, but it’s worth it. When I renovated my kitchen, I listed my old white kitchen cabinets. The listing broke the internet; I got at least 200 inquiries and sold them for just shy of $900. Not bad, not bad at all.

Donate What You Can

Waste not, want not. If there’s anything (re)usable that won’t necessarily sell, don’t trash it! Look into your local architectural salvage shops and donation centers (i.e.; ReStore) to see what they accept or pick-up. I locally donated my pedestal sink and my husband had quite the jovial time at the drop. Not to mention, the cost of dumping construction materials adds up fast at the junkyard.


Reuse & Repurpose What You Can

Touching on a similar sentiment as the previous section, reusing appliances, fixtures, decor, location of plumbing and electric will, hands down, save you a good load of bucks. 

Mark Off Areas To Remove or Save

When my all-muscle man excitingly readies himself to break shit, I ensured the demo didn’t miss a beat by marking areas to be saved (old walls, original flooring, etc.) as well as the spaces that need to go. Leaving silly notes just amplifies the fun, such as: “Bing, bang, bye” or “Break me, maybe.”

Sweet, Suicidal Spices

Speaking of silly, my most recent learning lesson is this: when demo-ing walls adjoining kitchen cabinets storing light items such as spices, be sure to either a) remove said spices in advance, or b) place a soft, pillowy surface underneath the door as you open it with great caution…

This glass jar of garlic powder came crashing down and lit up the kitch-sitch with its aroma at 6:45 AM. On the bright side, this is rather appropriate in a proper Italian’s kitchen.

Prepare a Time Capsule

Just for fun, leave your family’s footprint! I truly hope my design vision ensures none of the spaces I’ve restored are renovated down to the studs again, but if they ever are I’ll be there to say hello! 


10 Important Steps for a Seamless DIY Home Demo | Renovation Tips | JessicaBrigham.com

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