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Super Handyman: Getting geared up to renovate

When it comes to renovations, you’ll usually start with some demolition. While it can be fun, you need to follow some simple guidelines to stay out of trouble.

Do your homework. If you are taking down a wall, digging in your yard or pulling out appliances, make sure you know what you are getting into, as much as you can, before you start. Is the wall a load-bearing wall? Is there wiring, gas or plumbing routed through the area you are getting into? When in doubt, ask a pro for some guidance.

If you’re removing a lot of material, make sure you are ready for the disposal of it. Will materials be picked up by your local trash collection service? Do you need to rent a dumpster or call a removal service of some kind? Is the material toxic, containing lead, asbestos or mold?

Can you resell or reuse any of the materials you are removing? Some materials can be donated to a local charity like Habitat for Humanity, or a similar organization.

You are going to need some tools for the job, not just a sledgehammer! A reciprocating saw is handy, as is a pry bar. Find out what you need in advance, and buy or borrow what you need. Some demo tools can be rented, too.

Make sure you have proper safety gear on hand. Do you need to wear protective gear, like a dust mask, safety glasses or gloves?

Schedule your demolition in advance and allow plenty of extra time. Do an estimate of how much time you think it will require and then double it, just to be safe.

Get plenty of rest, do some extra crunches and carb-load the day before your project. Seriously, make sure you are prepared for the exhausting and frustrating task you are about to take on. Sure, you can save money if you do some of the work yourself, but just make sure you don’t end up spending that savings on doctor bills.

Rarely do demolition projects go totally smoothly. You need to be prepared for running across the unknowns. This usually means more time and money than you planned on initially. Remember, the stuff you see on television shows rarely is a true representation of real demolition. But if you are properly prepared and braced, it can be fun!


Q: I want to add a solar vent to my attic, but understand that I need to close off some of my existing vents. Can you explain? – H.T.

A: If you are using passive vents now, then your powered vent will be pulling air through your attic at a higher rate. You need to have more than enough soffit vents to supply this air, or it will pull it from your home’s interior. You also don’t need as many upper vents, so you can either remove them or just block them from the inside of the attic.

Super HandyMom tip

Sometimes, even I get in a hurry and don’t clean my paintbrushes like I should. I’ve also been known to take other abused brushes and try to rehabilitate them. My favorite method is to soak them in hot vinegar. By the time it cools, the old paint usually is bubbled up and flaking off. Try it yourself and see if you get some good results.


If you are getting ready for a kitchen remodeling or are designing a new kitchen, Thermador has a new MicroDrawer. It’s a microwave that is designed to fit in place of a standard kitchen drawer, so it’s out of sight yet still convenient. It has 10 cooking modes, including sensor-cooking, and opens with a touch. To find out more and to see what options you can order, go to The days of the plain and highly visible microwave are gone!

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