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Considerations for Deck and Screen Room Demolitions in Washington, DC

Posted in: Deck Tips, Screen-Porch Design Tips, home remodeling tips, building a deck

James Moylan

Monday, July 08, 2019

deck refurbishing with a sander in Washington, DC

If you have an existing deck or screen room structure, you’ll need to go through the demolition process before any new project construction can begin. If you’re looking to undertake this type of project in the Washington, DC, area, here are a few region-specific things to keep in mind about this demolition process.

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1.  Think about Access to Your Backyard

Working in any city presents logistical challenges for construction jobs, and Washington, DC, can be particularly tricky. There’s often limited space for parking, bringing in machines, or getting materials in or out of the demolition area, so you and your design and build firm will have to determine the best means of access to the backyard. This is one of the largest challenges associated with a demolition and a huge piece of the logistical puzzle to work out.

If you have an alley behind your house, which is common in DC, you can hopefully fit construction vehicles and trucks in that area. It’s a particularly big bonus if you have a dedicated parking space in the alley itself. If not, though, keep in mind that your construction crew can use the alley but can’t block it. People, for example, often put their garbage cans in this area, and municipal garbage trucks need to be able to get through for all scheduled pickups.


Row houses are also common in Washington, DC, and unlike detached homes, row houses don’t have accessible space on either side. This results in additional access challenges.

This is one of the most important reasons to work with an experienced, local design and build company for your demolition. Companies that don’t already have experience with these kinds of challenges potentially won’t have the creative solutions necessary to solve the access question.

2.  Determine the Availability and Accessibility of Parking

In Washington, DC, not many people are lucky enough to have dedicated parking, or they can’t lend those spaces, even temporarily, to their construction crew. If that’s the case with your home, you’ll need to utilize temporary parking passes to accommodate the extra vehicles.

Temporary passes for street parking are only good for two weeks, and you can usually only be issued two at any given time. When the two weeks is up, your design and build firm will need to reapply for additional passes, if necessary.

After general access, parking presents one of the biggest challenges for these kinds of demolitions.

3.  Obtain a Dumpster

Demolishing a deck or screen room creates a lot of debris and waste, and all that material will need to be removed from the site before new construction can begin. This means a dumpster is almost always necessary on a demolition job.

Again, though, because of space and parking limitations, finding a place for the dumpster can be problematic. Alleys are often not big enough to accommodate the vehicle dropping it off, and even if you have a parking space to offer, it usually won’t be large enough for the container. dumpsters, therefore, most often have to go on the street itself, whether that’s in front of the house or in the nearest alley. In these cases, a permit is required.

One big (and often overlooked) challenge associated with dumpsters is how quickly other people can fill them. Unless your design and build firm is diligent about securing a tarp on top of the dumpster whenever it’s not in use, it’s not unusual for these containers to be entirely filled by neighboring residents and passersby — even within one day. This is another good reason to opt for an experienced crew who has come up against these logistical hurdles and knows what problems to anticipate.

4.  Have Realistic Expectations about Cost

Even though the deck or screen room demolition happens before any new construction can begin, know that this demolition alone can cost a few thousand dollars. Even if the job seems simple and small, remember that all required permits add to the price, and the extra time needed due to space constraints and site challenges also adds up. A reputable design and build firm should be able to give you an estimate of these costs before any work begins.

concrete patio stones being cut for a patio installation in Clifton, Virginia

Lots of homeowners, in an effort to reduce construction fees, think they can handle this portion of the job themselves. While it’s possible, make sure you’ve considered all challenges of the demolition process: access, Dumpster rental, permits, safety concerns, how you’re going to remove all material, and any other demolition-related hurdle. If you don’t have the time and know-how to tackle this, leave it to a professional. Especially if your demolition deals with concrete removal (rather than just carpentry elements), you’re looking at additional challenges that a professional is likely better suited to handle.

With its space and parking constraints, Washington, DC, is a difficult place to undertake any construction project, and a demolition is no exception. Even if your project seems straightforward, make absolutely sure you’re dealing with a company well versed in the logistical challenges of the area, or you could find yourself needlessly dealing with extra costs and delays.