Demolition Plan and Morgoth’s Destruction of Gondolin

All that once was, is lost. . . for none now live who remember it.

 When I think of demo-ing the house on this property many things come to mind.Of course the begining lines from the Lord of the Rings but also of  the destruction of so many buildings in times of war and so forth. I’ve renovated a few houses in my life and have always found it interesting to see what gets uncovered along the way. Sometimes you find stuff or see how they built the structure or find writing or calculations on an uncovered wall. Every once in a while you’ll find tools. It is always amazing how quickly work can be destroyed.

As I have mentioned before  this house was supposedly built in the late 1700’s so people who knew I was going to demo the house kept telling me to look for stuff in the attic. Just a bunch of papers from the 1970’s all garbage.When I tore the roof open with the excavator a suitcase comes flying out of the wreckage and lands on the ground. I hear my son yell “Dad a suitcase!” and we both run over to it. All sorts of crazy scenarios start going through your head when you start to open the suitcase….. But it was empty. Oh, well. I was actually hoping for a Mithril vest. Or something that might come in handy when traveling into Mordor. Could be the beginings of a back to the future type movie.

For fans of  “The Hobbit” the swords  that Gandalf found in the trolls cave were all originally from the hidden city of Gondolin. This was one of the great stories from Middle Earth as told in the Silmarillion. Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, eventually became aware of the city and sent his army along with dragons and balrogs to destroy the Elves and everything that they had created there. So whenever I demo something there is always this thought in my head that says that there was a time when someone sat at this very spot and decided to build something that they wanted right there.

Although much has been lost my idea with this project is to build something and create a place where people will remember what once was. A simple life, a simple structure, and the melding of what people and nature need to coexist. If I can do this then I will have suceeded.

I had never demo-ed a whole house to the ground before.For some reason I thought I was going to go to the building department fill out a demo permit and get started. So I figured once that was done I’d be off to the races with building the house. I was wrong. The first thing I found out was that I needed a site/demolition/erosion control plan from an engineering firm showing all of the stuff I just mentioned and the procedure I would be using to get all this stuff done. Well,you just don’t walk into an engineering office and say “I need a demo/site plan for this coming Wednesday”.I had to meet them at the site and go over what I wanted to do, show them my design etcetera and so on. Their schedule was booked and it would be a few weeks before they had a completed plan to give me. It was actually very educational for me to talk with these guys. It opened my eyes to a few things I hadn’t considered and the firm I used was very helpful. Although this took a couple of weeks I thought that now I was ready to get my demo permit and get started. I was wrong again. The town also needs the company to have workers comp, disability and a general liability insurance package in place before issuing a permit. I didn’t have that either at the time so that wound up taking up another week. I finally submitted my permit application, which has to be reviewed by the town engineer before approval, and got it back a week or two later approved!

The first thing we did was set up erosion control around the perimeter of the site as per the erosion control plan the engineering firm had designed. After this was completed we needed an inspection,which was approved! The next part of the demo plan called for everything in the house that was breakable, mainly glass and the like  to be removed by hand. I met a few young men from Bree who I hired to give me a hand.

Young man of Bree removing windows prior to main demolition.
Young man of Bree removing windows prior to main demolition.

 

Back of house with some windows removed.
Back of house with some windows removed.
Wounded man of Bree after battling a window.
Wounded man of Bree after battling a window.

He took it pretty well it seems.  The other guy seems unconcerned.

As I stated before, I had never demo-ed a whole house before. I talked to a friend who had done some demo work and he gave me some tips. For some reason I was thinking that tearing the roof off with a machine was going to be difficult. I took a skill saw up to the roof and cut up the shingles into 6 foot by six foot squares so it would come apart easier. That was a complete waste of time. I didn’t realize how easy it would be to break the house up with a machine. I rented a small excavator with what they call a thumb, I think it was a PC-85. The thumb is an attachment that helps you “grab” stuff easier. I had the machine delivered and also a 30 yard container delivered to put the debris in. When I got a price for 30 yard containers I failed to ask if they deliver on the weekends. This being a weekend warrior project I should have asked about multiple deliveries. I was thinking I would need between 4 to 6 thirty yard containers.By the time all was said and done I had used 7 thirty yarders. If I had known how quick it was to crush up a house I would have scheduled a series of switches throughout the day. I also could have had them “drop” the containers closer to the house. Being that they did not deliver on Saturday I had to stockpile all the debris in one huge pile.

30 yard container dropped for first day of demolition.
30 yard container dropped for first day of demolition.

So that first Saturday we basically tore down the house and loaded the one 30 yarder. During the week I had to find another carting company that would deliver Saturdays and schedule multiple pickup and drop offs for the following Saturday. Unfortuneately now I had to rent the excavator for the next weekend as well. Including pickup and delivery. That was a bummer. Demo is a snap but it can be dangerous. More than once stuff flew at the excavator as we were ripping it apart. Also, I don’t know why I did this, I left the chimney up. So it was feestanding at one point wobbling back and forth. I was lucky it did not fall on the excavator. Here’s a few more pictures of the machine going at the house.

Using the bucket and thumb to rip down the roof.
Using the bucket and thumb to rip down the roof.
Making the pile of debris.
Making the pile of debris.
Just after ripping the roof over the front porch.
Just after ripping the roof over the front porch.

All in all the demo went fairly well. Loading all the debris the following weekend was a snap. It took about an hour to load a container. The only real problem was that there was kind of a lot of little stuff on the ground that we had to pick up by hand. That could have been remedied if I had gotten the containers delivered while we were tearing the house apart. I would have been able to put the box right next to the house. I don’t have a picture of the debris pile after we finished but it was huge! We kind of had to spread it out a bit so we could finish the demo. Here’s a picture of what it looked like when we were finished.

Demolition competed
Demolition completed

One other issue surfaced while doing the demo. The container trucks nearly got stuck pulling in and out of the site. I’ll save that solution for the next post.

Next post:  Engineer: There’s no way this structure is going to work.  Me: You’ve got to be kidding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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