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Do you have a pretty house but a really ugly garage? It happens sometimes. The previous owner maintained the house well but neglected the garage. Or maybe the garage is just too small for your needs. What should you do? Should you remodel the garage? Or is it better to demolish and rebuild a garage?
These are the 5 key reasons for demolishing a garage; 1) Lack of Structural Integrity, 2) Heavily Damaged, 3) No Longer Meets Your Needs, 4) Abandoned and 5) is an Eyesore. The Best Way to demolish a garage should follow a six step process explained in this post. Four other Important Factors should also be kept in mind.
In this post I go into the details, so read on.
When To Demolish & Rebuild A Garage? (5 Reasons)
The decision to demolish & rebuild a detached garage is not an easy one. You have to commit yourself to spending a great deal of money, time and effort. The project has two elements to it. Tearing down the old garage. Rebuilding a new garage.
This decision can not be taken lightly. You must have some really good reasons for you to decide that a simple makeover is not enough. Some common reasons for demolishing a garage are:
Structural Integrity of the Garage Has Been Compromised
Your garage may have been poorly constructed to begin with. Or maybe it has been ravaged by the elements and neglected over a long period of time. Your garage may be in such a state of decay that it may be ready to collapse at a moment’s notice.
The structural integrity of your garage may have deteriorated to an extent that it is no longer safe. It may have become a risky structure. A serious accident may be just waiting to happen
Personal safety is paramount. Consult a structural engineer, if required. If they recommend, tear down your garage. The sooner the better.
The Garage has Suffered Heavy Damage due to a Natural Calamity
Even a relatively new garage may become a candidate for demolition if it has suffered some serious damage due to a natural calamity, such as a hurricane or a fire.
If the damage is small or localized then a remodel will be more economical. For example, you do not have to pull down the entire garage, if it is only the door that has been damaged beyond repair. Just get a new garage door.
But if the damage is structural and your insurance company will pay, you will be better off demolishing the damaged garage and rebuilding a new one.
The Garage No Longer Meets your Needs
You may have come a long way in your life but your garage may not have. Now you have a bigger family, an additional vehicle or a new hobby. Your existing garage is just too small for your new style.
Remodeling can help, but remodeling has its limits. So it may be time to demolish your garage and rebuild a new one. A detached garage that meets your present needs and has room to accommodate future plans
The Garage is Abandoned and no Longer in Use
There are times when you might have built a new garage that meets your needs and complies with the latest building code of your area. To begin with, you use the old garage as a shed.
But with time, you may use it less and less. You know it is deteriorating, but you couldn’t be bothered.
A decaying, rotting unused garage becomes a home for rodents & reptiles, pests & termites. They will slowly but surely encroach in your living space.
This is the time you should spend some money and demolish the unused garage. Reclaim the yard space and use it for something nicer like a vegetable patch or a gazebo.
The Garage is an Eyesore
You have kept your house in good shape. You have been remodeling from time to time. The kitchen appliances are brand new. You got the bathroom plumbing replaced and had the entire house repainted.
You are all set to sell and show it to your real estate agent. They think the house is prime property and should get you a good price. But there is one small hitch.
The ugly rotting old garage is pulling down the value of the house. It is an eyesore and no buyer wants it.
You are better off demolishing your garage. A house without a garage may be more valuable than a house with a garage that is an eyesore.
You may choose to demolish and rebuild a garage. But I do not think it is such a good idea if you are selling the house. Do not rebuild a new one. Give the new owners the option to use the extra space in the way that works best for them. They will value it more!
How To Demolish & Rebuild A Garage? (6 STEPS)
Tearing down a garage may seem like a simple job. Just go at it with a sledge hammer. If it is a small garage and already crumbling, you could do it yourself (maybe with some help).
For a larger and more solidly built garage, you will need to get the services of a professional company. Demolishing a garage can be complicated, involving many steps, specialized equipment and debris disposal.
The best way to demolish a garage is to follow the steps below:
STEP 1: You Need to get a Permit
You of course require a permit to build a garage on your lot. But did you know that you need a permit to demolish an old garage too.
This could be a simple process if your garage is in a small rural setting. (It may not even be required).
It could be somewhat more involved if your garage is in a dense, urban neighborhood.
As an example; the very first line of the “Excavation or Demolition Permit” of The Official Website of the City of New York states:
You need a permit to excavate or demolish any building, structure, or property.
Other towns & cities will have similar rules. Whatever the case, get a permit before you start any demolition. Stay within the law.
STEP 2: Inform the Neighbor
Do you have friendly neighbors? Great! You want to remain friends in the future too.
Garage demolition will create dust, debris and noise. If your garage is close to the property line with your neighbor, some of this (the noise for sure!) will cross the line.
Have a chat with your neighbor about your demolition plans. Incorporate their reasonable suggestions into your plan as far as possible.
STEP 3: Clean Out the Garage
Your garage will have both movable & immovable assets. Move out the movable assets out of the garage and
- Store them in a safe place for future use
- Sell them and make some money
- Give away or donate and get some goodwill
STEP 4: Make a Salvage List
Not every item attached to the garage may need to be trashed. For example, the garage door may be in good condition. You may want to use it yourself or sell it.
Make an inventory of such items. Remove them yourself, where possible. Else use the services of a qualified professional or company. Once again, as an example, a qualified electrician may help you in salvaging some of the electrical meters and lighting fixtures.
STEP 5: Disconnect All Utilities
Before you or the demolition squad start to tear down the garage, you must ensure that all utilities leading in or out of the garage are safely disconnected.
The important utilities to plan for are:
- Electrical: Please use a qualified and licensed electrician to do that
- Plumbing: You could do it yourself if it involves a single water inlet pipe. Use a professional if the plumbing is complicated
- Gas lines: Same as plumbing
- Drains: Just make sure that it is done properly. Seal off the end temporarily (if you intend to rebuild a garage) or permanently (if you do not plan to rebuild).
In case some of the above utilities are direct from the utility company to the garage. Make an application to them. They will do it for you, possibly free of any charge.
STEP 6: TOP to DOWN Dismantling of the Garage
You or the demolition squad that you engage, must start at the top and work your way down. Start by dismantling the roof. This has to be done piece by piece, shingle by shingle.
Next in line would be the garage wall. The garage wall exterior siding and the interior drywall. Garage wall insulation in the cavities between the garage wall studs have to be pulled out. Electrical wiring & water pipelines etc have to be torn away.
Removing the garage door is a tough job as a garage door can be pretty heavy. It is a two person job for sure.
At this stage you should be just left with the garage wall frame and the roof truss. These need to be sawed and removed piece by piece. All that is left is the garage concrete floor and the garage foundation.
If you plan to rebuild a new garage at the same site or if the concrete garage floor has huge cracks or heaving, you have to get the excavator in. Break up the concrete and dig everything out.
However, if the concrete slab is in sound condition and you do not plan to build another garage in the same place. Just leave it as it is. You will not only save money on the demolition, you may find some use for the large concrete slab.
You could put a garden shed, a hot tub or a gazebo on it.
Important Factors to be Aware Of (4 Factors)
Any demolition work, including demolition of a garage, carries a high risk for accidents. Be extremely careful and use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.
Use the services of professionals, as far as possible. They have the experience, expertise and the equipment needed to get the job done.
Be aware that the old garage may have used building materials that are hazardous and carcinogenic. Decades ago they were not banned. Examples are paints using lead or other heavy metals in their formulations or asbestos as sheathing material.
Old garage demolition will release these in the air. Always use the recommended respiratory masks, gloves, safety eye glasses, etc. during demolition.
All the debris that the demolition will create has to be disposed of, as per the local laws. If you are engaging a professional contractor for the demolition, make sure that disposal is a part of the contract.
Demolition of a garage will invariably require specialized equipment and heavy machinery. As a basic level DIYer you may not have most of it.
Another reason to use a professional demolition contractor.
Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and useful.