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This step is only applicable if you are starting with an existing room or even a single existing wall.  Otherwise, you can skip to the next step.

There are two fundamental considerations here:

  1. Prepare for insulating existing uninsulated walls, including adding a vapor barrier.
  2. Remove any existing structures to prepare for the right size room.

The importance of item 1 cannot be underemphasized.  While installing a vapor barrier is covered separately, you generally need to remove the existing wall (drywall in most cases) to be able to install a vapor barrier and (re)insulate.  This is not a pleasant task, but it has to be done.  If you are lucky enough to be able to get to the existing wall from behind (for example, in a basement situation where the wall is uncovered on the reverse side), then you can work from behind instead -- lucky you!

Don't take a hammer to the wall to remove drywall!  Instead, cut through the wall vertically with a knife or small saw, cut or bust through enough to get a hand-hold, and begin to peel the drywall off the studs in sections.  This is much neater than the hammer approach!  When you are done, tidy up the edges and remove all the remaining nails and drywall screws.  (NOTE:  There is always the possibility that when you cut through a wall you will hit an electrical wire, so turn off power to nearby circuits first and wear gloves for this step.  If you do nick a wire, assess damage and replace the wire as necessary.)

If there is existing insulation in the wall, remove it.  You may be able to reuse it, even if you have to strip off the kraft paper.

If you are expanding an existing room, you may need to remove a wall.  Do so after carefully assessing that the wall is not required for load-bearing of the floor above!  (Hint:  a row of 3 or more studs together probably means it's load-bearing.)

This may also be the time to consider the need to replace an existing door.  You cannot install an "outside" door in an "inside" door frame, because they are different thicknesses.  For both cost and ease of installation reasons, new doors are best purchased already in their frames, so you may need to completely remove an existing door and frame.  Make sure you have enough room for the door; decide whether it should open in or out; and assess all consequences of using your particular choice of door.  (For instance, using a glass door effectively increases the cubic foot requirement of a cooling unit.)

And now, let's continue with Step 3:  Build or Expand Depth of Walls, Ceiling, Floor.

Or you can return to the main page.


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