How to demolish a brick chimney (and not die) – Laundry Renovation: Part 1

Child number 2 enjoying a bath in the completed laundry sink.

So we’re having a baby, and that means a future that will require a working laundry. Well first we need to make room for the Laundry and this means we need to do some demolition! This project was the biggest to date and the most expensive, but I was happy with the end result and learnt a lot. Here is how it all went down!

This is what I am starting with.
The farm house has a laundry, but I am being generous in giving it that description. There is a freestanding sink unit that is connected to hoses that run out through one of the windows. The washing machine is also connected via a hose and empties into a built in sink that doesn’t otherwise work. Oh, and all the water exiting from the bathroom sink, shower and laundry sink(s) just empty to a pipe a few metres from the house and get dumped on the ground. 

The floor is tiled, however all the tiling is uneven and most tiles are loose. The laundry space is quite large, but taking up a fair amount of room is the old (thankfully working) electric water heater, and the rest of the space is just wasted with no benches or storage.

The plan. 
I’m actually going to use less space then the current laundry as in the future I am hoping to get a second bathroom to fit in the current laundry\toilet space. In order to make my plan work, I need to reclaim some wasted space in the house which in this case is actually an old chimney that faces the kitchen and intrudes upon the current bathroom and laundry. 

During the walk-in-robe project I put a door from the WIR into the bathroom so the as part of this project I will be closing up the existing doorway, making our only bathroom into an en-suite. Good thing there is only the two of us… wait, aren’t we having a baby? I hope this doesn’t come back to bite me in the future…

I have done a couple of pencil sketches at this point of what I think the laundry layout will end up looking like, however I probably won’t finalise a design until the walls are up. I do have a couple of requirements though:

Possible layout – quick sketch, pretty colours.
  1. Plenty of bench space.
  2. Two sinks, one for soaking dirty clothes, one large one for general laundry stuff. and possibly for bathing small children.
  3. Washing machine and dryer under the bench with power and plumbing.
  4. Storage space for laundry related items.
  5. Drawers for dirty washing.
  6. Easily accessible power outlets.
  7. Indoor drying rack for the those less then sunny days.
  8. Proper water egress management so that it isn’t just dumped out behind the house.
Brick chimney that has to go, view from the kitchen.

Removing the chimney.
This is the view from the kitchen looking at the chimney. As you can see it is not being used as a chimney and I have just stuck a few bits of timber in there to make shelves. This project is going o impact the kitchen, bathroom and the unused space behind it, but at least demolition is fun!

To remove the chimney I started by climbing up on the roof and using a cordless hammer drill with the chisel bit just started removing bricks from the top of the chimney and worked my way down. The chimney looks like it was held together using a lime mortar, so it came apart really easily when with the chisel bit, and I tried not to damage the bricks where possible as they were nice red earth bricks that I hope to use again in the future. This part of the project resulted in a huge amount of dust and mess, luckily my wife was out of town for the weekend so I was able to get things cleaned up before she returned.

Fibro is a pain-o.
I then needed to remove the the wall sheeting from the space that would become the laundry to run power and water. The space was up until that point being used as a laundry although services were running via hoses i had pushed through the wall and were not a long term solution.

The interior sheets were fibro and I was worried they may contain asbestos, which is nasty cancer causing stuff that was once widely used on older houses. The insulation in the roof happens to be loose fill blown insulation which is notorious for also being asbestos and the government at the time was providing free testing so I took them up on the offer and ended up getting the all clear on both counts. 

Originally I had planed to just cut sections out of the wall sheet and run services in the exposed sections, and then replace the panel and patch, but the fibro sheet was impossible to cut easily and I ended up just pulling everything off the wall.

Next, I removed the door to the bathroom, and framed and sheeted the doorway so now the only bathroom in the house is an en-suite… 

An en-suite with a view from the rest of the house… I haven’t done anything about the giant hole in the kitchen, laundry and bathroom walls.

Not pictured: Privacy.

I also removed the floor tiles that were in the future laundry space. The tiles were uneven and broken and came up extremely easily with the chisel bit on the hammer drill and I was alarmed to find out that the concrete underneath in some places was so thin that the tiles had basically been mortared directly onto dirt.

Demolition done, now time to start construction.

What do you think of the build?

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