Avoid a Disastrous Tear Out With These 4 Considerations

If you’re engaging in any type of home renovation, you’ve probably spent a lot of time focusing on the end results. You may have made plans for the materials you’ll use, and you’ve visualized what the finished space will be like. But, have you properly planned for your tear out?

The tear out is that first, exciting phase of the actual construction. It happens after all the planning, drawings, and material selections have occurred, and in many cases after all the materials have been ordered and arrived. Before any new construction can begin, the old materials need to be removed.

And while you may think this is a straightforward process, there are often things that you should be prepared for as well. Acknowledging these 4 considerations during a tear out can help you be ready for any surprises or a DIY disaster the project may bring.

Preparing for the Tear Out

While your contractor or builder will likely be handling all the details, you should still be aware of what’s going on in and around your home. And that starts before the tear out begins.

First, your contractor will likely order some type of disposal system such as a dumpster to accommodate the materials that are being removed from your home. Unless this is a very small tear out that can be done with a few oversized garbage bins, then you will likely need to have the dumpster placed outside your home for a few days to weeks.

So, your first concern will be with where to put it. Dumpsters are heavy and large, and they get even heavier when they’re full. They need to be close enough to the worksite to make it easy for the workers to dispose of materials, so it’s likely that they may block or displace your driveway. In this instance, you will need to make sure you have a place to park your cars.

If the driveway isn’t an option, the dumpster may be placed on your lawn, which means both the dumpster itself and the equipment that bring and retrieve it could damage your yard. So, you’ll need to factor in some landscaping at the end of the project.

In some instances, the dumpster may need to be parked on the street. If this is the case, be prepared to check with your neighbors and your town to make sure you aren’t inconveniencing anyone or breaking any traffic laws.

The Tear Out Itself

The Tear Out Itself

Tear outs are well named. This is not a clean or easy process, and surfaces and materials will in some cases be literally torn from your home. This in turn can be very messy and will likely produce a lot of dust as well as airborne debris. Your contractor may block off the area in question with plastic sheeting, but sometimes this isn’t possible.

In these instances, you may want to consider covering furniture and floors with drop cloths to help make clean up easier later on. While your contractor will take care of the areas he’s working on or in adjacent spaces will likely also become dirty, and it’s up to you to make sure they get protected.

For some people, the tear out phase can be exciting, particularly if you weren’t in love with the current decor. For others, though, it can be a little disconcerting to see your home being ripped and torn apart. Keep in mind that this is a necessary phase of the project, and in many cases you can expect things to be torn right down to the studs in the walls before new materials are brought in.



If you financed the project for your home, your loan officer likely brought up the necessity of a contingency fund. This additional money is meant to cover unforeseen circumstances so they won’t slow your project. And during the tear out is one of the most likely times for contingencies to arise.

While contractors can make educated guesses about what’s going on behind surface materials, there is only one way to know for sure, and that’s the tear out. So, things that might not have been visible before, such as mold, asbestos, wood rot, insect activity, or outdated plumbing or electrical work may turn up during the tear out. This is a fairly common scenario, which is why contingency funds exist; to assist you in dealing with the issue quickly so your project can proceed.

In the event that your contractor does uncover something during the tear out, don’t worry; it’s likely something that they’ve encountered before and know how to deal with. While the idea of mold or rot in your walls can be unsettling, the tear out is also excising them from your home – with a full tear out, you’re starting the next phase of your renovation knowing what’s inside your walls, and knowing that it’s what’s supposed to be there.

A Thorough Tear Out Means a Better Build

Tear outs are messy, sometimes inconvenient, and are likely to turn up problems you never knew existed. But a thorough tear out also means creating a better foundation for your remodel to take place on. By getting rid of all old materials, your contractor can start fresh, and you don’t need to worry about what may or may not be inside your walls.

Plan for your tear out the way that you plan for the rest of your renovation. Make sure you know how the debris will be removed, that you protect your other belongings, and that you have your contingency fund and plan ready. At the end of the day, the tear out is the first exciting new step to your new home. Make sure it’s done right to ensure that your remodel can commence with confidence.