Dismantling a Shed: How to dismantle a shed without hurting yourself or your family

When you drive your car off the main road into your driveway how much do you need to concentrate?

Not too much I should think.

Now try reversing into your drive. I'll bet you need to use quite a few more brain cells.

I remember when I was learning to drive that my instructor spent a fair bit of time and gave me quite a few tips, teaching me to go around those sharp corners in reverse.

Building a shed is like pulling in to your driveway. It is quite simple in the forward direction but taking the shed apart at the end of its life is a bit like reversing a car there are a few points that you need keep in mind so that you don't crash into anything on the way.

What is the route that you should take when dismantling a shed?

dismantling a shed This shed has outlived its usefulness.
It has plenty of character but it leaks,
it is draughty and if a thief wanted to take anything well.....

Taking a shed apart is similar to the construction process but in reverse. You do need to be aware of several pitfalls and have some plans in mind for how the process is going to go. Each shed is a little different but the general process is to take the shed down in the reverse order that it was built.

The essential procedure for dismantling a shed is to start with removing the windows and doors and any other loose items to make the remaining shed as light as possible. Once the fixtures and fittings are removed then it is time to remove the roof.

dismantling a shed Remember to remove the roof
before you take out the walls ;-)

Removing the roof will take out a good part of the sheds inherent stability. The next step is to remove one of the side walls.

Before you take out the first wall take a few minutes to consider the stability of the remaining structure. If necessary you might want to install some temporary bracing so that the remaining walls do not topple over and damage adjoining parts of the garden or fences.

There you have it a simple sequence for dismantling a shed.

That is the overview but what are the problems that you will encounter?

Problems that you will come across when taking the shed down include:

1. Broken glass and sharp items

2. Rusted fixings

3. Sections of the shed are too heavy for one person

4. Disposal of the debris

1. Broken glass and sharp items

Typical hazards to watch out for are sharp items such as the cut ends of bolts, broken glass and splinters from broken or snapped pieces of wood. Make sure that you and all of your helpers wear protective work gloves so that they don't get cut hands when lifting or moving the debris.

2. Rusted fixings

dismantling a shed In theory the shed should come apart easily.
But if the shed has been in place for some time you may need
to use a bit of force!!

With any aged structure that has spent its life outside the fixings that were used to hold it together may have become rusted in place. Typically the panels that form a shed are held together with bolts or nails.

Nails may be almost impossible to remove without damaging the shed panels. For removing nails I recommend that you use a claw hammer or for particularly large nails you may get a bit of extra leverage with a Gorilla bar.

If you intend to re-use panels after dismantling a shed and they are fixed together using bolts then removing bolts with a spanner or power screwdriver is the best option. However if you find that bolts have become rusted and 'seized', removal of these bolts requires cutting of the bolt with a hacksaw. If you have an electrical power source available then an angle grinder will do a much quicker job, but make sure that you wear goggles to protect your eyes from the sparks.

With the bolts removed or cut then you may then need a 4lb hammer to give the panels a little further persuasion to separate them. Without an adjoining panel to stabilise you will realise the next problem on the list.

3. Sections of the shed are too heavy for one person to lift

dismantling a shed It is good to have some help dismantling a shed. However if there are too
many pesky kids around one solution is to bury them
up to their knees until the job is complete.

Also once the connection between the four walls has been broken then the walls become unstable and liable to fall over. It is here that it is really handy to have some friends or family available as an extra pair of hands.

Your helpers can hold a panel vertical until you have managed to separate it from its neighbour, you do not need a great deal of strength for this. However when it comes to lifting the panel out of its position then you might want to have an idea of how heavy the panel is and also check that your assistant is able to lift that sort of weight.

Finally as you take apart the shed you will realise that you need somewhere to put all of the parts of the shed and to dispose of the parts that you no longer have a use for.

4. Disposal of the debris

Before you start dismantling a shed have a look at the make-up of the shed. Are there any sections of the shed that can be removed and re-used on future projects? Is it possible to dismantle the shed in sections that can be easily transported to your local waste disposal site?

And finally are any sections of the shed made of hazardous materials?

For example some sheds built up of over a long period of time may contain sheets of asbestos cement which was in popular use at one time or be coated in lead paint. These sort of items should be safely disposed of at licensed tips.

Even if the paint is not lead you should think twice before burning the wood left over from the shed as the paint and preservatives will lead to atmospheric pollution and also contamination of the ground beneath where you have the bonfire.

A quick summary of process of dismantling a shed

dismantling a shed The replacement shed may not have as much character
as the previous but it is certainly drier inside and a lot
easier to secure and maintain

Before you start to take your shed apart have a demolition sequence that will be very similar to the sequence that was used to build the shed in the first place.

Be safety conscious when dismantling a shed and make sure that you have protective equipment to protect you from sharp items, have a good set of tools on hand, make sure that you have some help on hand and finally make sure that you know what you are going to do with all of the parts of the dismantled shed.

When you are reversing a car into your drive it pays to follow the steps outlined above. Following these points should ensure that you too complete the project safely and are ready to start the redevelopment of the site.

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