Don’t Make This Mistake Guting a House for a Whole Home Remodel

Home Remodeling: How to demo a house // Gutting a house // DIY Tips and Tools // www.TantrumsandTools.com

Everything You Need to Know About Demo for a Home Remodel

You’re probably here because you are considering buying a fixer or remodeling your outdated home. But before you grab your tools and start swinging, let’s talk about the mindset you need when renovating your home.

It will be a lot of work, more than you can fathom. It’s going to look worse before it looks better. And it’s going to take longer, and cost more than you think.

Now that you’ve got your head on straight. Let’s talk about how to demo a house step-by-step and room-by-room, the tools you’ll need, the cost of doing a demo, and how to approach this project safely. 

I’m sharing tips on demo, including lessons I’ve learned from my recent 1950s cape cod remodel. I also have some really great house renovation before and after demo photos that you’ll see here.

Are you as excited as I am? Let’s do this, ladies!


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Just a friendly reminder: This tutorial and any opinions or recommendations are genuinely mine, but this is not a substitute for consulting a professional. I also use affiliate links to earn a commission.


Home Remodel DIY Tools for Demo

Let’s have a little chat about why having the right tools is super important when you’re taking on a home demo. Trust me, it can make all the difference!

Picture this: you’re all hyped up and ready to tear down walls or rip out those old cabinets, but if you’re armed with the wrong tools, it’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Frustration city, my friends. That’s why having the right tools is crucial.

Having the right tools means you can work smarter, not harder. They make the whole process way easier and save you a ton of time and energy. Seriously, nothing kills the vibe more than trying to smash a wall with a wimpy hammer or struggling to cut through a carpet with a dull utility knife. 

I’ve done the whole dull utility knife thing, and it not only took me triple the amount of time but also added to my frustration and physical effort to get that rug out. If I had let it, my diy confidence could have been in the dumps because it made things that much harder to do.

Not only do the right tools make your life easier, but they also help you get better results with less effort. Like my favorite wrecking bar. It leaves everything in its path in shambles. Having the right tools takes your demo power to a whole new level!

And let’s not forget about safety. The right tools often have safety features that keep you out of trouble. Plus, they’re designed to be comfy to use for long periods. 

Essential Demo Tools List

So, before you dive into your home renovation demolition adventure, take a sec to check out your tool collection. Make sure you’ve got the right ones for the job.

Here are the tools for renovation I love and use for my own projects. These are small investments that’ll pay off big time!

  • Safety Gear: First things first, protect yourself! Grab some safety goggles, work gloves, a heavy-duty respirator, and closed toe shoes.
  • Hammer: This is your best friend for breaking into drywall and works hand-in-hand with your pry bar.
  • Pry Bars: Time to pry and pull! You can not demo without this Milwaukee 15″ prybar. I love this one because it’s easy to handle with my smaller hands (without compromising on its strength), and it has the added benefit of the shock shield grip. And removing flooring and door jams are a breeze with this crow bar.
  • Utility Knife: This simple yet versatile cutting tool is great for scoring and cutting materials like drywall, carpet, and plastic sheeting. Keep spare blades handy for quick replacements. There is nothing worse than a dull blade.
  • Reciprocating Saw: This versatile tool cuts through materials like wood, metal, and plastic with its back-and-forth motion. Use it to dismantle framing, pipes, and other fixtures.
  • Cordless Drill: Every DIYer needs a trusty cordless drill. It’s perfect for taking apart fixtures and removing door hinges. Keep a variety of drill bits and screwdriver bits on hand for different jobs.
  • Wrecking Bar: The demolition bar is your partner in crime. It’s long, strong, and has chisel-like ends that can handle stubborn nails, glued materials, and more. The claw like end grabs onto materials and makes removing just about anything a breeze. Do not attempt demo without this tool!

Safety is crucial, get the right tools for home renovation, take your time, and have fun tearing things down!

Home Remodeling Steps: Where to Start

How to demo walls // How to demo ceilings// Gutting a house // DIY Tips and Tools // www.TantrumsandTools.com

If you’re ready to dive into this adventure, I’m talking more than cosmetic upgrades, then here’s a rundown of the steps involved in how to demo a house interior:

  1. Plan of attack: Before you swing that sledgehammer, take some time to plan and design your dream home. Consider layout changes so you know where you’ll need plumbing and electrical. Your planning needs to be as specific as where you want the toilet, sink, and tub drain. And for electrical, you’ll need to know exactly where you want your lights, outlets, and switches placed.  
  2. Get the permits: Don’t forget the boring paperwork! Before you demo check with your town to see if you need any permits for your remodeling project. Every town is so incredibly different, and whether or not they require a permit never makes much sense. Do your research well in advance because nothing is more frustrating than waiting on a permit to start.
  3. Cut the utilities: Before you start tearing things down, shut off the electricity, water, and gas supply to your house. This may be a job for the pros, so consider hiring a licensed professionals to handle this part if you’re not totally sure what to do.
  4. Demo day: Time for the fun part – demolition! This involves tearing out everything from walls, ceilings, and flooring to cabinetry, fixtures, and appliances. If you want an open floor plan, you might even have to knock down a few walls (but remember to check if they’re load-bearing first!).
  5. Check the structure: With the house gutted, it’s important to assess the structural elements. Make sure the beams, columns, and load-bearing walls are in good shape. If there are any issues, get them fixed to ensure your house stays standing strong.
  6. Rough it up: Now it’s time to do some rough-in work. Install or modify electrical work, plumbing pipes, and HVAC ductwork within the walls and floors.
  7. Insulate and cover: Insulation is essential for energy efficiency and keeping your home cozy. Now is your chance to button things up! You’ll install insulation and then cover it up with drywall or shiplap or whatever surface suits your style.
  8. Add the finishing touches: It’s time to bring your vision to life! Install new flooring, cabinets, fixtures, and finishes. Let your style shine through with paint, tiles, and other finishing touches.

How to Remove Ceilings

So, you want to know how to demo a ceiling? Maybe your roof leaked, and you are replacing a drywall ceiling. Or maybe you want to get rid of that outdated look and are removing a drop ceiling. Either way, the process is just about the same. Here’s how it’s done.

First, before you swing and tools, you need to prepare the area. Ideally, you’re not living in the house right now, but if you are, prepping the space is super important, so none of your stuff gets ruined. And so nothing is in your way while you’re working. 

Next, use the circuit breaker to turn off the electricity in the room you’ll be working in. Then you can take down any light fixtures, ceiling fans, or other attachments hanging from the ceiling. 

Now, let’s create an access point to peek at what’s hiding up there. There are two ways to go about this. One is to use a reciprocating saw to cut a small square in the ceiling. The other is to use your wrecking bar and punch a hole in the ceiling. The latter is more fun, in my opinion 🙂

We’re now ready for removing a ceiling! Your approach will be different depending on your ceiling material. If it’s drywall, I’d go with a pry bar and hammer to work your way under an edge, then take the wrecking bar to pull sections down. If your ceiling is made of anything else, I’d have at it with the wrecking bar.

As you demo the ceiling, debris piles up quickly. If you’re gutting your whole house, you likely have a dumpster (or two, or three). Other options to remove all the waste are loading up a trailer or truck bed and taking everything to the local dump.

How to Demo Interior Walls

So, let’s talk about how to demo walls. I recently tackled this project in my home remodel, and let me tell you, it was pretty satisfying! There are many reasons to demo walls; replacing windows, drywall damage or an interior remodel that changes the layout. But be warned; it can be quite a workout! So, get ready to break a sweat and be ridiculously sore the next day. 

Before swinging any tools, turn off the electricity in the living space. Next, grab your tools; hammer, pry bar, and my fav – the wrecking bar. Now you are ready to demo a wall! 

How to demo drywall is the same process as other wall materials. First, find a starting point. Use small swings, pick somewhere at eye level, and hit the wall with your hammer. Go in a straight line horizontally across the wall, about a hands width worth of whacks.

Take a look in the hole, looking for wiring and plumbing. Then, have it! Use your tools, or your hands and feet also work well. I personally love kicking through the wall! Just be cautious and take your time when working around electrical wiring and plumbing.

Once the walls are down, you’ll have a big mess. Renting a dumpster makes your life a lot easier because someone comes and hauls it away for you. My favorite part is when working on the second story; you can throw everything out the window straight into the dumpster. 

Now that everything is down, check your electrical systems and plumbing to determine if anything unsafe exists. And in my case, I found some terrifying things. I am so thankful I went for a complete gut because the things hiding in my walls were a fire waiting to happen. 

Having your walls open also makes re-wiring and adding new fixtures, outlets, and switches much easier for your electrician, which saves you money on labor! And the same goes for plumbing, making all the work and mess worth it.

DIY Insulation Removal

diy insulation removal // removing blown-in insulation // Renting an insulation vacuum // www.TantrumsandTools.com

Brace yourself because old insulation removal is messy and uncomfortable. Before you get started, make sure you’re wearing protective gear. Long sleeves, pants, gloves, and definitely a good-quality mask are a must. Trust me; you don’t want those irritating insulation fibers on your skin or in your lungs.

Now, let’s get into it. Insulation is usually nestled between the wall studs or stuffed into the wall cavities. If you’re lucky, it might be neatly contained within a plastic or paper sheeting, which makes it way easier to handle. But more often than not, it’s loose and just hanging out there.

To remove the encased version of insulation, carefully pull it out of the wall cavities. Take it easy and be gentle so you don’t tear the insulation or create an even bigger mess. You can gather it in trash bags or a garbage can that you’ll fill and empty in the dumpster as you go. 

Removing Blow-in Insulation

Removal of insulation from attic is a whole different ball game. Blown-in insulation is the worst. An insulation vacuum was one of my best discoveries for my most recent reno! Yes, these exist. And for around $200, I rented one for the day, which was well worth the time and energy saved. I found an insulation vacuum rental from Sunbelt Rentals.

Word to the wise, this thing is enormous! They had to load up the vacuum and hose with a forklift, and once in the bed of my dad’s truck, it took up the entire thing. Here I was thinking I rented something like a shop vac. Boy, I was so wrong. 

It took a bit to hook up all the hoses, all 150 feet of them. But once everything was connected, we fired it up, and off I went. It was a bit of a backbreaker, but this vacuum was by far the best way to get the blown-in loose insulation out.

To Remove or Refinishing the Wood Floors

The age-old dilemma of what to do with your old hardwood floors. Should you remove them entirely or give them a fresh new look by refinishing them? It’s a tough call, but I’ll share my experience and thoughts with you.

First off, take a good look at the condition of your wood floors. Are they scratched (deep ones), worn out, or damaged beyond repair? Removing them is the way to go. It’ll give you a blank canvas to work with and the freedom to choose a completely different flooring option.

On the other hand, refinishing is the best option if your wood floors are still in decent condition. It allows you to restore their beauty, repair minor imperfections, and give them a fresh new finish that suits your style. Plus, refinishing is generally more cost-effective compared to ripping out the entire floor.

I know the “in” thing is wide plank; don’t get me wrong, I love this look too. But removing old hardwood floors is hard work. I’m talking board by board, pulling up each piece that’s been nailed down with multiple nails. No thanks!

Once you refinish your old floors, you can at least get a color you love. And, honestly, those old hardwoods are way higher quality than any new engineered wood.

So, ultimately, the money and time saved swayed me to refinish instead of replacing my original hardwoods. I’ll refinish my wood floor later this summer, so stay tuned for my results and diy hardwood floor refinishing tips and tricks.

The Process of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

If you refinish your wood floors, prepare for a different kind of adventure. The first step is thoroughly cleaning the floors, removing dirt, dust, or debris. You’ll want a clean and smooth surface to work with.

Once that’s done, you can sand the floors to remove the old finish and smooth out any imperfections. Renting a floor sander from a local hardware store makes this job a whole lot easier.

After sanding, it’s time to choose your new finish. Picking a stain color is worse than picking a paint color. Take your time and sample your options on a small section before you do the whole thing! You don’t want to pick something you don’t love. 

Apply the finish using a brush or roller, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Be patient and allow the finish to dry completely before walking on the floors or moving furniture back in.

Of course, removing and refinishing wood floors have pros and cons. And the decision comes down to your personal preference, budget, and the condition of your floors.

Whatever you choose, remember that renovating your floors is a chance to transform your space and add your own personal touch. So, make a choice that feels right for you.

How to Demo a Kitchen

How to demo a kitchen // Kitchen Remodeling // Gutting a house // DIY Tips and Tools // www.TantrumsandTools.com

When remodeling an old house, odds are pretty good you’ll need to demo a kitchen. But, don’t worry, your time and money are well worth it. Kitchen renovations have a great return on investment. Now, I’m definitely not a pro, but I’ve demoed enough kitchens to share some tips.

First, let’s talk tools. A prybar, a wrecking bar, and a hammer will be your besties for this job. They’ll help you pry and remove cabinets, countertops, and other fixtures. Also, have your drill nearby for removing light fixtures and switch plates.

Start by clearing out the kitchen. Remove all appliances, dishes, and anything else that’s not bolted down. You want a clean workspace and the freedom to move around without any obstacles.

And don’t forget to cover any doorways or furniture in nearby rooms with plastic sheets to protect them from dust and debris.

Once everything is cleared out, start by removing the countertops, followed by the cabinets. Take it slow, especially around the stove and sink, to avoid damaging the walls or any plumbing, electrical and gas connections hidden behind them.

On a nothing note, if your cabinets are in good shape then painting cabinets is a great way to save a ton of money! I’ve done both, painting and replacing with new kitchen cabinets. There are pro and cons to each, but that’s a whole other conversation.

Last in demoing a kitchen is the flooring. Prepare for a sore back, and don’t be surprised when you find more than one layer of flooring. I recommend a longer crowbar for thick, multiple layers of flooring.

After wrestling with five flooring layers in my latest kitchen reno, I learned this lesson. I got through the second half of my kitchen floor in half the time once I had the right tool.

Once everything is out of your old kitchen, you have your blank slate to start imagining your new kitchen and a better layout for your space. Even in a small kitchen, the right design makes all the difference in the world. Making just a few fairly minor layout changes is how I made a small kitchen extremely functional. 

How long does it take to demo a kitchen? Not as long as you might think. Give yourself an afternoon if you’re not saving anything and just focused on smashing and trashing.

On the other hand, if you’re being more careful and planning to salvage a lot of your kitchen, then budget for more time. Also, having one person doing the demo while another person works on hauling everything to the dumpster is a super efficient way to make your kitchen demo go much faster.

Bathroom Demo 

How to demo a bathroom // Bathroom remodeling // Gutting a house // DIY Tips and Tools // www.TantrumsandTools.com

Besides the kitchen, demoing your bathroom for a remodel is always a good idea for resale value, especially if your bathroom is small. Small bathrooms need fewer materials, making those more high-end finishes within your reach.

The first thing is clearing out the bathroom. Remove anything and everything from your bathroom. You want a clean and open area to work in.

Also, take the time to cover nearby furniture or surfaces with plastic sheets to protect them from dust and flying debris. Seriously, I may sound like a broken record, but construction dust is sneaky, and it will find a way to make your life miserable.

Begin your bathroom demo by shutting off the water supply to the bathroom. Locate the shut-off valves usually found under the sink or behind the toilet. Turn them clockwise until the water flow stops. This step is important to avoid any water mishaps during the demolition process.

The next step is to remove the bathroom fixtures one by one. Start with the smaller fixtures like towel bars, then move to larger pieces like the toilet and vanity. Removing the toilet is one of the worst parts of demoing a bathroom. I mean, toilet water, blehh. 

After shutting off the water, flush the toilet to empty the tank, and then use a wrench to loosen and disconnect the water supply line. After that, remove the bolts securing the toilet to the floor. Carefully lift the toilet off the flange.

Now, let’s talk about those tiles. If you have tile walls or flooring, get ready for some smashing fun! To demo shower tile I’d first try to pry them off using my prybar and hammer.

If that doesn’t work, then get reading for some smashing fun. Use a hammer or a mallet to break the tiles into smaller, manageable pieces. Protect yourself with safety goggles and work gloves to avoid any injuries from flying tile fragments.

How Long to Demo a Small Bathroom? 

If everything goes as planned, especially if your tile pops off easily, a half-day or so should be enough time to demo your bathroom. The worst part about a bathroom remodel is tile that doesn’t want to pry off. Having to smash tile into tiny pieces and then clean up those tiny pieces is a headache. 

Remember, a bathroom gut job can be messy, but a bathroom remodel is always worth it! Changing your bathroom layout requires moving water pipes and adding new plumbing, which is so much easier after demo.

Also, news flash, there’s a lot of water in the bathroom, so tearing out the old exposes any possible water damage. This way, you’ll sleep soundly at night, knowing your bathroom is free from mold or rot.

So, my friend, that’s diy bathroom demo in a nutshell. Embrace the challenge, channel your inner DIY enthusiast, and have fun creating a space that suits your style.

Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying a relaxing bath or a refreshing shower in your beautifully remodeled bathroom, proud of the effort you put into making it your own.

Cost of Gutting a House for Interior House Remodel

First off, the size of your home plays a significant role. Obviously, a larger house, there’s more material to remove, which means higher costs. Yet another benefit of a smaller home! I needed four thirty-yard dumpsters to gut my 1500-square-foot cozy cape. At around $700 each, that’s $2800 in dumpster rental fees. 

Another factor to consider is the extent of the gutting you’re planning. Are you thinking of stripping the entire home down to the studs and starting from scratch? Or is this just a surface and fixtures kind of remodel?

The more extensive the demolition, the more it’ll cost. The numbers I gave above are for a down to the studs, including insulation, one full bath, a small kitchen (no appliances), a shed, and a roof off the sunroom.

Now, girlfriend, brace yourself for some reality-check moments. Surprises can pop up during demo. You might uncover hidden issues like water damage, mold, or sketchy wiring that you can’t ignore. These unexpected expenses can add up, so always have a contingency fund available.

The cost of labor is another significant factor. To save a little, I recommend doing everything you can yourself. Bringing in a professional for electrical, plumbing, and addressing load-bearing walls. Enlisting the help of a handy friend is another way to save money. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Other common costs are permits, safety gear, and tools. My building permits cost $260, safety gear was around $100, and luckily my dad had all the hand tools and power tools.

If you had to buy all of these it could cost another couple hundred dollars. I recommend checking with a friend to see what you can borrow before you go out an buy everything new. Also, I did rent an insulation vacuum, which cost $200. 

So, what is the total cost of demolition of a house? Well, girlfriend, it’s tough to give you an exact figure because every project is unique. But after gutting three houses now, $3-4k is a reasonable budget.

Gutting a House Safely

Let’s dive into some tips and tricks to make sure we do this demo job safely!

First things first, safety should be our number one priority. Before we grab those sledgehammers and go all “demolition diva” on the house, you gotta gear up.

Grab some heavy-duty gloves, safety goggles, and a respirator mask. I went with a P95 respirator mainly because it filters out toxic materials including oil based particles.

The next safety step is turning off the utilities. Find the main electrical panel and shut off the power. Do the same for your water supply and gas lines.

As we’re demolishing, keep an eye out for any potential hazards. Look for exposed nails, sharp edges, or unstable structures. Like a weak floor which you could fall through and get pretty hurt!

Remember, girlfriend, demolition is messy, so if you’re living in the house while demoing, you’ll want to try and contain the chaos.

Use plastic sheets or tarps to seal off your work area as best as possible. It’ll make the cleanup process a whole lot easier. The better option is to live somewhere else, but I know how expensive this can be so, do what ya gotta do!

So there you have it, girlfriend! We can tackle that house gutting project like a pro with these safety tips. Remember, take it easy, be cautious, and don’t hesitate to call in the experts if something seems beyond your capabilities. It may sound corny, but safety comes first!

Whole Home Renovation Project Plans for a 1950s Cape Cod Remodel

For this whole house renovation, my remodeling plan including just about a complete gut. Yes, it’s that bad! As much as I adore the nostalgic appeal, the previous property owner did not take care of this place, and it shows.

When you walk in, the putrid smell makes your eyes water, there is a layer of filth in the cabinets and up the walls, and the yard has piles of debris waist-high from 30 years of no one doing a lick of yard work.

But the location is perfect, and the bones are good. There is an abundance of hidden potential in this property. I bought this house knowing I’d have to take on the challenge of a whole home remodel.

With proper planning and the help of my dad (he’s a professional contractor, so that’s pretty convenient!), buying this house may be the great decision I’ve ever made.

It’s time to say bye-bye to this sad little cape and welcome a fresh new chapter in my life. Together, we’ll embark on a journey of tearing down walls, revealing hidden gems, and transforming this into a modern haven that reflects my personal style. 

Details About My Cape Cod Style House

There are a few reasons why I and doing a full gut renovation. The main one is that there is obvious water damage in the back half of the house, and I’m concerned it’s much more extensive than what I can see on the exterior of the walls. 

Having two young boys, I felt uncomfortable with the air quality and needed the peace of mind I could only get from gutting this place to the studs. Without any formal eval, I just get this sense that it’s not good! 

And honestly, my intuition paid off because some scary stuff was hiding in those walls! There was not a single sheet of drywall upstairs; the wall material was all peg board and paper (that MDF type junk). 

And the scariest thing was the electrical ended up being a complete re-wire. Once I saw the condition of these wires, I didn’t care how much money it would take to make it right. You can’t put a price on peace of mind.

Besides the obvious safety factors and bringing this house up to modern day building codes, I am most excited about having standard outlets. And if you’ve lived in an older home, you know what I’m talking about. Bye-bye ungrounded two prong outlets.

Changing an Outdated Floorplan

Another reason I am doing a complete remodel is to create a more open floor plan. The original layout is typical for older homes, where every room of the house has four walls. And there is minimal natural light getting into the house because of this. But this is just different from how we live nowadays. Sightlines matte, but with a few structural changes, I’ll have all the vantage points throughout the home. 

There is a decent-sized living room with a beautiful fireplace and a window where sunlight pours into the home. Off this is a tiny dining space that I’ll double in size by converting the three-season room into an actual room and extending the dining space into there. 

The original floor plan of this place also has two of the four bedrooms on the main floor. As you know, this doesn’t work for most homeowners.

I plan to open the first floor completely, remove a bedroom and make it a family room, and then turn the other bedroom into a bonus room that can be an office, workout space, or guest room. 

I’ll add a significant addition to the second floor, with a laundry room, full bathroom, and master bedroom added. This way, the kids and I can all sleep on the same floor, the bedroom sizes will be pretty nice, and we’ll have laundry in a very handy location. 

Old Wood Windows

The house has all original windows except the basement and front bay windows, which are vinyl. These old windows work, so for now, they stay. They have pretty good storms on them, so fingers crossed they are not so drafty that I regret this decision. New windows during demo would be the easier route, but also a significant financial investment compared to keeping what I’ve got.

This remodeling project is a large project that I anticipate taking several years to tackle between the condition of both the inside and outside of the home. But I mean, are we ever really done?! There will forever be smaller projects. And once I’m done with all these remodeling projects, it’ll be like a new home. 

Structure of the Home

Pay careful attention to the majors in older houses. Surprisingly, despite its surface condition, this house had most of these, so I went ahead with buying this place. 

The majors are your structure and systems like heat, water, and electricity. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like dumping money into things you can not see. I prefer to spend my money on all the pretty upgrades and final touches where I can actually see the results of my time and money.

First, this house’s structural integrity (i.e. the foundation) is as solid as can be. There’s no crack in sight, giving me complete peace of mind. Next is the roof. Although its green color could be better, the previous owner put on a new roof about ten years ago. 

I don’t have to worry about a new roof for a while and can put that money toward other projects. Down the line, I will replace the roof. But it feels good not to have to do it immediately.

The heating system is also relatively new and powered by gas. Gas heat in Vermont is preferred because it gets cold, and other heat sources, like oil, are exceptionally expensive. 

And let me tell you about the shiny new water heater. Lucky for me, there was a leak in the current water heater right before listing this house for sale. They couldn’t repair the old one, so a brand new one had been installed the day I looked at the home (oddly enough!). 

One thing this house needed was a safer electrical system. But, hey, one out of the rest is alright! I set aside a large chunk of money to remedy this issue. I’m looking at this as an opportunity to have the lights and switches of my dreams, just like in a new build.


Gutting a house for a whole home remodel is a big project, but creating your dream home is worth it! Just make sure to plan it out, do what you can at the pace you can, and enlist the help of professionals when needed. Get ready for an incredible transformation you’ll enjoy for years to come!

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furniture flipping // diy projects // home renovations // modern farmhouse decorating ideas