Millie’s Remodel: HAZMAT Demolition Progress
and Precautions

It took me two weeks, but the HAZMAT demolition process is finally finished. Truth be told, I never wanted demolition to be completed more than on this house. It seemed like every wall I opened and every piece of subfloor I removed lead me down a black hole of more mold, rotted floor joists, and termite damage. I was so anxious to start building back. But, what I wanted more was to turn the air conditioning back on in the house and start a day working in my clothing and not the unbearably hot Tyvek suit and respirator!

Let me back up and explain why the need for full protective gear. I know the house, I affectionately refer to as Millie, was built in 1957. For that reason, I took lots of samples from the ceilings, walls, and floor and had them sent to our local EMSL laboratories. The results from the front exterior came back positive for lead paint. And I knew there was some suspicious mold on the drywall in the laundry room and the kitchen wall. But, little did I know how much mold was hiding in the wall. And therefore, I’m really glad I took the proper precautions during the HAZMAT demolition process.

black mold on drywall

Boy am I thankful I had on all the protective gear. Especially when I discovered hundreds of rusty razor blades in the wall behind the bathroom. I can’t imagine how dangerous it would have been to cut my hand and have mold get into the wound. (Shuttering.)

Removing Lead Paint and Black Mold

Some friends have asked how I safely remove the lead paint and black mold. A month ago I got certified in Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting. It was a full day class, and we learned the protocol for dealing with lead paint dust. The precautions are almost identical for dealing with mold or other hazardous materials in a home. As a licensed general contractor and certified lead paint contractor, I can complete this type of demolition myself (while following the protocol for safe abatement.)

I won’t go into details because dealing with hazardous materials in your home is not a DIY project. The consequences of exposure or poor abatement practices can be hazardous to your health or your family members’ health. I highly recommend hiring a professional who is certified in abatement for mold, asbestos, lead paint or other environmental hazards. If you have a house built in 1980 or earlier, insist on having samples sent to a lab looking for lead or asbestos. You can learn more about asbestos and why it is important to know if your home is at risk here.

Safety Equipment & Demo Tools:

These are the tools I used and the personal protective gear I wore for the demolition.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Demo Hammer
Pry Bar
Medium Disposable Tyvek Suit
Anti-Fog Goggles
HEPA Vacuum
Garden Sprayer
Cleaning Wipes

HAZMAT Demolition Time Lapse Video:

Want to watch my time lapse video of the demolition? Enjoy the efforts of three days compressed into just a few minutes.

I wish it felt this short in real life. In actuality it was so hot and the demolition went on for two weeks. A bra and underwear were all I wore underneath the TYVEK suit because it was so incredibly hot in the suit. To protect the house outside the demo area, I had plastic on the floor and the air conditioner turned off to contain any demolition dust and debris. A garden sprayer filled with water was used to carefully spray down each area to keep dust at a minimum.

I found a flat end shovel was one of the best demolition tools (thanks for the idea Melbourne Chippy Chick!) The thin blade slips between the drywall and studs. Then I could press against the opposite drywall for leverage and pop the drywall off the side I worked on (while keeping the back side drywall in tact.)

After the drywall was removed and carefully disposed of in trash bags, I removed all the drywall nails. Then I cleaned and sprayed the wall studs that had mold on them.

Two Chemicals Used for Eliminating Mold:

Mold Cleaner

Mold Killer

Because of all the mold, I had to remove all the drywall between the kitchen and the bathroom and the tile around the tub. I’m so glad I did because I uncovered the source of the rodent access between the crawlspace and the attic. I can only speculate there was an opossum or a raccoon gaining access because of the size of the poop in the attic. Gross!

I also couldn’t believe the toilet didn’t fall into the crawlspace after I removed the tile and found the subfloor crumbled in my fingers.

rotted floor around toilet

Speaking of falling, I also discovered termite damage along the outside band joists of the laundry room. It’s amazing the house wasn’t sagging there.

laundry room floor termite and mold damage

Be sure to watch my video to see the demolition process and the reveal after demolition was finished! You can also find out why I had to add some framing to this small hallway wall.

new subpanel framing

Thank you to the sponsors of Milllie’s Remodel for helping me give this old gal a makeover!

millies remodel sponsors logos

Until the next Millie’s Remodel update! In the meantime, you can follow the real life progress on Instagram and weekly updates on Facebook!

Make sure you are subscribed to my YouTube channel to keep up with the Millie’s Remodel project!

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How I Re-Built My Own Kitchen (after a leak) | Pretty Handy Girl

2013 Could be called the year of the kitchen renovation in our house. Or the year that nearly killed me. Or the luckiest year of our lives. I’m still debating the title. What I do know is that, I decided to take on my biggest DIY project to date. I re-built my own kitchen from bare studs and subfloor.

It started one morning as I was confronted with a foul odor. It’s only describable as that odor that usually lives in the high school gym locker room. I thought my 9 year old son’s feet were starting to stink. Unfortunately a stinky pair of shoes wasn’t the culprit, it turned out to be a very minor leak that turned into a very big kitchen renovation. We persevered through 45 days without a washer and dryer and many months without a kitchen. But, it was like being a contestant in Survivor. I lasted the year of construction; the set backs and sore muscles; and in the end I was rewarded with a brand new kitchen!

Today, I walk into our beautiful kitchen and I know it was all worth it! It was worth all the sweat equity, the daily Advil doses, and the tree falling on the house. If you want to reminisce with me as I recap my kitchen renovation of 2013, here’s your ticket to all the tutorials and posts: Read more


I’ve been asked many times how we’re surviving without a kitchen. I have to admit, there were a few weeks of adjustment for us, but now things are humming along relatively easily. We have a makeshift kitchen and a dishwashing set up that works for us. But, living without a kitchen is a bit like being on SURVIVOR. Come on in and I’ll show you the behind the scenes peek into our lives and share some tips to help make your kitchen remodel a little easier should you choose to take on the challenge! Read more


There we were, Harvey the electrician and I were happily making progress on the kitchen renovation. Harvey was just finishing up on the last row of outlets when his hand disappeared into the wall. “Ummm, Ms. Bailey, I think there’s something wrong with this stud.” I looked over to see him pulling wood shavings out of the hole he had cut for the outlet. “What the…..?” (I repressed my urge to curse.) Within five minutes of his discovery, we had pulled down the sheetrock around the suspicious stud and were glaring at a poor excuse for two framing members and the wall’s bottom plate.


The two studs were so brittle and destroyed that I was able to poke my entire finger through them. (Let’s see you do that to a solid 2×4, Mr. Houdini!)


Not good…not good at all. I had to make the unfortunate call to Pretty Handsome Guy to tell him the bad news. But, I broke it to him lightly, “Honey, what is the one home disaster we HAVEN’T had to deal with yet?” He guessed tornado (Shoot, forgot about that one.) “No, Termites! But, the good news is that there is no live infestation.” See, it always helps to temper the bad with some good news. 😉

The next few days were fraught with nail biting, lightly walking around that wall (for fear it might topple over), and multiple phone calls to the termite company, our building inspector and a structural engineer. To make this long story short, the structural engineer was the most helpful and advised us to fur out our walls to carry the wall load over the remaining perfectly good rim joist. If that sounds Greek to you — no worries — I really want to share with you what I’ve learned about TERMITES instead! Read more

How to Remove a Soffit - Kitchen Renovation Update

How are y’all doing this week? Getting ready for the holidays? Instead of decorating, we did some demolition in the kitchen this past weekend. And it involved buying myself an early Christmas present:

DEWALT 10--Amp Keyless Variable Speed Corded Reciprocating Saw DW304PK 1V

I snatched up this DEWALT 10–Amp Keyless Variable Speed Corded Reciprocating Saw that was on sale at Lowe’s. I actually held each and every reciprocating saw in the tool department. Those saws are not lightweight by any means. And since I had to hold this over my head and make repeated cuts, I wanted to make sure I bought the lightest one I could find. However, I had one other factor to contend with. Battery life! The lightest weight saw was a Ni-Cad battery saw and I didn’t want to deal with losing power in the middle of the job and waiting for the battery to charge up again. So, I chose this mid-weight fighter because it has a cord and it won’t run out of power…ever…well unless your power goes out. I’m thrilled with its performance, this prize winning middle weight really knows how to throw a knock down punch to soffits.

AND, in a pinch, it works great as a turkey carver (LOL!)

How to Remove a Soffit - Kitchen Renovation Update

I also took advantage of those fabulous Black Friday sales at Lowe’s and bought two of these Read more