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What's there in a demo worth stealing?

Discussion in 'Demolition' started by Randy88, Jul 13, 2014.

  1. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

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    I'm on a job right now, to demo an entire building site and level it off, so when we're done, it'll end up gone and only the memory remains of a farmstead. We've been doing a lot of these lately to eliminate taxes and liability issues and having to deal with renters.

    We've been held up a week, waiting for the renter to move the last of his stuff out, so the owner can salvage the stuff he wanted out of the house, new furnace, water heater, all the appliances and so fourth and I got a call a day ago, the owner finally got into the house, and its stripped to the bone, and I mean stripped, never in my life have I ever seen anything like it before, and I've demoed a lot of stuff over the years. I have no idea what it looked like beforehand, but come on, why would anyone steal the old carpet and flooring under it, or the linoleum off the floors, bat insulation out of the walls, sheet rock off the walls, better yet how the heck did he get the old sheet rock off the walls intact and take those too, he jerked all the copper wires out of the walls, the entire plumbing out of the entire house, even the cast iron sewer pipe going out of the wall to the septic was gone.

    I walked through what was left of the house, no windows, siding left during the night before I got there, even the insulation under the siding was gone, not sure what good it was, but I don't need to worry about it anyhow.

    Well the weather turned bad and we broke down with one of my machines, everyone was soaked and I was told there's another day coming, start up again in the morning, and we left.

    Got a call two hours later, the owner went back to check on the place just before dark, and the renter was back, pulling up the old pine flooring and hauling them out too.

    Come on seriously can old junk out of a house be worth anything, really? Is there a market for old used sheet rock or cut up linoleum off the floors, the steel and wiring I could see selling for junk price, I'd figure the furnace and water heater someone would buy, but the rest, old pine flooring 100 plus years old that never had a day of care in their life, worn to the nub and the nails sticking out of it?

    Is demoing these kinds of places destroying undiscovered gold mines I'm just not seeing or what? The stuff has to be worth something or nobody would take the time to remove it and steal it, but come on seriously is it worth the effort? Is there some trading place to go to buy used sheet rock and linoleum too small to use again? He even stole the outlet boxes out of the walls, and light fixture boxes out of the ceiling, I can go to menards and buy them for a couple bucks each new, and it would take me an hour to get each one out if I were trying to save it. He even wanted the roof, claimed he had someone that would buy it, is there a used shot roof sales place where you can go buy a used leaky worthless roof? The wood under it was rotten, he didn't want that, just the roof itself.

    The owner took it in stride and didn't blow a gasket, claims if he did press charges, the owner had far more to lose than the thief, just to get him out of the area and away from him was his goal.

    We thought maybe he was trying to cover up something so we had the sheriff out to look at it, maybe a murder scene, drugs if you remove the evidence, there is nothing to prosecute with, but the sheriff said no, by the looks of it, he was after the materials, even took some samples for drugs and claimed there was nothing there or had been nothing there. Even he asked the same thing, is this stuff worth anything, would anyone pay anything for it, if so, why won't anyone tear down old houses for the materials. He claimed he had never seen anything like it before, and I told him we've got to be missing something and so he made a few calls and had some others out to look, all claimed it was the materials he was after, not hiding or covering up anything. The only thing the sheriff had to say was, is the guy smart enough to know what he stole wasn't worth stealing?? Which brought about the next question, do you want the stuff back, and the owner said, to do what with, burn or throw away, not really was the reply.
     
  2. JNB

    JNB Senior Member

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    Tweakers.
     
  3. amscontr

    amscontr Well-Known Member

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    They did you a favor! The less debris to pay to dump at a landfill. We're doing the same thing in Illinois and I wish people like that would come here and clean up the debris for FREE!
     
  4. Desertwheeler

    Desertwheeler Senior Member

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    We did lots of demos for a while and tweakers were always stealing stuff. Even when we were on the job they would pull up and try to take stuff. We caught some guys one time and the guy over seeing the jobs was a code enforcement guy and a off duty sherriff. So they came out in hand cuffs lol. They go after the copper and for us what was left of the a/c units.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
  5. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    The metal is obvious, as the appliances and systems. The pine old pine hardwood flooring can bring $4-10 or more per LF, it's popular with architects.

    However taking the sheetrock and linoleum is strange, they could have been cooking meth in that house and didn't want any trace of evidence.

    On the last demo job they were climbing in 40 yard boxes full of scrap pulling the pieces out. Had to put a lock on the door safety chain to keep them from opening it. Then they just crawled on top to get it. Finally I took a wad of chain link fence and two I-beams and put them on top of the scrap to keep them from getting it.:rolleyes:

    We had to keep a watchful eye demo'ing the buildings because they would walk up behind the track hoe as you were pulling something metal out and yell - "Can I have that!".
     
  6. FSERVICE

    FSERVICE Senior Member

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    randy TO ANSWER YOUR REPEATED QUESTION YES YOU ARE MISSING OUT ON SELLING THE OLD STUFF !!! the drywall I have no idea what that's about but all the other stuff is worth $$$$ if you want to mess with it.. some don't want to go to the trouble.. the barn lumber/beams will bring BIG dollars. there is a big store bout 6 miles from me that goes out & takes down old houses to save the trim, flooring,sideing,roofing bout anything BUT the drywall!! they bring it in sort it & resells it... they are makin a good living doing this,they sell some of the stuff on the net other stuff by word of mouth.. people like you just knock it down crush it up & send it to the landfill, missing out on the profit of used materials!! there is a big market for the old stuff that most consider JUNK!!!
     
  7. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    That's true FSERVICE but one has to have the labor, time and infrastructure to make salvage worth while. These items bring top dollar at the retail level, not the wholesale level - IE one would need a retail store of some sort to make it worth while when you add labor, time and transportation to get the material to the store front or customer.

    I salvage all the metal, ferrous and non-ferrous of course, any structural beams, interesting signs and other things that are easily removed. I have sent a lot of old wood that would be worth something to the landfill because I don't have the labor nor the retail presence to get enough money for it to make it worth my while.

    Also time is a big factor, when a commercial owner is ready to start a project, there is no time in the schedule to have someone come in and dismantle it piece by piece. I wish it could work that way but it's not how it works.
     
  8. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

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    We did some figuring, on average we could savage roughly three outlets an hour, new cost at menards is about three bucks each, labor is at a minimum of 20 bucks and hour, if I have to shut down the machines making over a 150 an hour, how does this pay. As for used underlay and linoleum, that left me speechless, I have no clue as who would even want it, used two by fours, to get them out of the wall, is worth what 2 bucks for new 8 footers, and maybe get two an hour and remove the nails, and screws and undo the wiring running through them, at a labor rate of 20 an hour? Maybe if your unemployed and had nothing to do, was desperate for work, but then I'd have to drive the whole load at a minimum 100 miles to haul it any store big enough to try selling it, not to mention the drive every day to and from the stealing site, I know I'm bad at math, but nowhere does this come out, maybe if you had antiques, or something unique, but ordinary everyday run of the mill stuff?

    We did a last minute sweep of the house this morning, get this, its totally baffling to us, there are 100 year old crown moldings in the basement, all laid up, been there for decades, they never wanted them, even when the owner took the renter through the house to determine if there was anything left he wanted, he snubbed his nose at those crown moldings, which should be worth something, I've had some ask about them, but he stole the one's put on less than five years ago, pine painted white, absolutely nothing special about it, gotten from menards, and spent days to take it out???

    There were two antique doors hung up in the ceiling joists in the basement, hardwood doors, antique locks and in mint shape, those were left, he took the hollow core doors you can buy at any menards or home depot, the cheapest ones they sell, the owner was so upset he said, leave the old ones there and burn em, so we did, its his stuff, he can do whatever he wants to with them, and he asked me, does it make sense to you, I told him I had no clue.

    He wanted to steal the old flooring out of the house, was working on it, but the flooring already taken out, that was put in the basement, when the new floors were put in decades ago in a couple of rooms, he left, we looked at them, they were in mint shape and already out, stacked up and tied together, and he had to have seen them, his cigarette ashtray was set on them and full of cigarettes, he sat there and smoked as he worked in the basement all the years he ever lived there. My crew was just befuddled as to what he was thinking or doing.

    He took sheet rock off the walls, plywood off the floors, and there were new sheets of each in the basement, he left, right beside the furnace he stole and water heater he took, the owner even asked him if he wanted that stuff, since he took the others out of the house, he said, nope, leave it there????

    I can understand the simple things, steel, scrap copper, wiring, but outlets, that are run of the mill, and he left the toolbox of copper fittings, that were new laying in the yard, in the tall grass, I even offered to load it into his pickup, but he said, leave it its junk anyhow, but took the pipes out of the house, isn't copper, copper no matter the form?

    Maybe in some cities, but in rural midwest nowhere, this stuff is basically worthless, not worth the effort to take them out, dozens of houses have this stuff in it, and not even the family wants it when we go to demo it, sentimental value should be worth something, but I guess if nobody wants it, who would take it out in the fist place.

    Some years ago, banisters where a hot item, hundred year old railings and crown moldings, anything decorative everyone wanted, but that runs in cycles, its still worth something, but unless its in mint shape or someone falls in love with it, not so much. But crap bought cheap at menards? Do they have a private top of the line stuff not sold in stores I'm not aware of, maybe gold plated with real gold or something, but stamped steel outlet boxes you can buy so much a dozen?

    As for meth, that's easily tested for, when the septic is pumped they do it automatically anyhow, but tests were done and they said no, or at least that's what we were told.

    I'll have to agree with Cm on this one, it just doesn't work out for the math, time and value, in the end, you'll lose you butt doing salvage out of old houses, heck, most of the houses would be given to any home for the taking if anyone would actually do it, but again, the math won't come out to move it, I've looked at even later houses in great shape, and the costs don't come out, its better and cheaper to stick build a new one like you want rather than move it any distance and remodel it.
     
  9. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    The renter could just have a few screws loose in the noggin..:beatsme
     
  10. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

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    As of now, the only thing I can figure is, if they can steal it, they will, I'm not sure value of the stuff is even in the equation, obviously if it were, they'd go after far better stuff or know what is of value to go after in the first place. There were some smaller old outdated outbuildings on the property, those had beams inside, and boards on the outside worth some dollars if anyone would have wanted to take them down, those were left intact and untouched, so I was given the order to flatten them and shove them into a fire, which we did. Had they asked the owner to be given them, he'd have given them all to take what they wanted, so if value was the motive, they obviously ignored the stuff they'd have made money on, big money in fact, but I'm hired to do a job, and I'm going to do it, we are on a schedule and things need to get done for others to do their job on time, that and we're late getting to the next jobsite and people waiting there for us to do our job, impatiently I might add.
     
  11. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

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    Well its over, we're done, was the most bizarre demo I've ever done, we'd done the last sweep of the house, everyone and everything was out, and I fired up the excavator to go knock it in, everyone else was busy taking down tree's and shoving outbuildings closer to where the fire would be, and everyone had their backs to the front door, I was around back and one of the crew caught a glimpse of someone headed into the house, they shut me down moments before I knocked the roof in, claiming someone's inside, WTF for was my question followed by who, turns out it the renters/squatters mom, they hadn't paid rent in six months. She was tossed out and demanded to be able to go back in, get this, to steal the last remaining mop board around the last room. She was promptly thrown off the property or we'd call the police, get this, she went to get the police to stop us so she could steal the last stuff out of the house. I couldn't believe it, they came and shut us down, she wanted us arrested for destroying personal property, her's she was wanting to steal, I can make it up its so stupid. The owner when questioned by the police, said and I quote, "come again she wants access to do what"........................followed by a long silence and he finally said, its my house, its my stuff, I intend to burn it, actually we did already and its too late to steal anything now and maybe everyone should leave us alone so we can get back to work.

    Right after she left the first time, we lit it up and was in starting to cool off when the police showed up to question us about the stuff inside the house, the owner took it in stride, I didn't, so after an hour the police left and took them along and left us to go back to work, she threatened to sue us, me included, she's crazy enough I believe she'll try just that, but we got it done, on the way out we stopped in town and boy everyone was livid at us, turns out the squatters were selling the stuff on the internet and told everyone they owned money to, we destroyed all their stuff they were selling to pay everyone and the one's that didn't get paid, we were to blame and they should register their complaint to us directly, which they did.

    I was speechless at first, then the reality of it sank in, and I blew a gasket, told the first one who confronted me, the stuff's stolen, your either getting paid with stolen goods, or your waiting to be paid from thief's and what they are doing is completely illegal. I contacted my attorney and after he got done laughing, he said there was nothing I could legally do about it, but added, they're doing what with stolen stuff?

    I'm not sure if I should be upset, or falling down laughing or somewhere in between, but it has been educational I'll admit that much. My attorney did say if you can't figure out for sure, what or why they are doing what they are doing, chances are they are crazy and he doesn't do crazy nor understands it, I'm thinking that's the lesson I learned on this one.
     
  12. Delmer

    Delmer Senior Member

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    If I had a nickle for every crazy renter story... But I have to admit, this sure is a good one.

    Funny thing is there are lots of crazy renter stories, lots of crazy old farmer stories, crazy scrapper stories, but I can't think of a single good trailer park story??? You'd think with all the craziness going around, some of it would end up at the Brookview Court.
     
  13. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    Wow Randy that's a great crazy story, haven't run across that yet.

    I wouldn't worry, if she's stealing stuff to pay people she owes it's just a matter of time before it catches up with her. Furthermore, I doubt any lawyer would take her case, there's no money in it.
     
  14. clintm

    clintm Senior Member

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    you would be surprised at what the lawyers will do a good friend of mine demos houses daily had one in the city that had a bunch of drunks and crack heads living next door while he was demoing the house the sheriff came by more than once next door to serve papers on them he got done with the job no problems (he thought) . the next thing he knows the drunks had come over and stole the deck off the back of the house and carried it by hand to there back yard dropped it on one of them called the fire dept went to hospital firemen stated that they was drunk ended up after about 2 years found a crooked lawyer sued my friend and his insurance co claiming that one of his latino operators had picked it up with the 120 size excavator with stiff arm thumb from the corner diagonally it was 14'x14' square and set it over about a 6' fence (impossible machine would not reach high enough if he picked it up square much less from the corner) but did not so much as scratch a board and dropped it on the drunk still with out breaking any boards.by the time he found out about this whole B.S. his operator had just went back to mexico and could not get in touch with him to state that he for sure did not do this and guess what his insurance settled out of court with the drunk for almost $200,000.oo yes $ 200,000.oo and the guy was so drunk his lawyer could not even get him sober enough to come from his office to his meeting room IN SAME BUILDING . guess what they cancelled the policy at the next renewal and we wonder why our insurance is so high
     
  15. Delmer

    Delmer Senior Member

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    So my mother lives in a farmhouse turned duplex outside of a medium sized town and has rented out the upstairs to mostly single people over the last decade. I help her decide who is qualified to rent, so she calls one time about a guy who has two german shepherds that he wants to keep chained up on a cable so they have plenty of room to run. "NO WAY"

    Next call, "can you talk to this guy, he's real insistent that I rent this place to him because he needs the space for his bus that he uses to haul his harleys, and the upstairs has enough room for his wife who homeschools their five kids, and he's on disability so he can pay the rent without any problem"

    So I call the guy to tell him that my mother won't be renting to him because of the dogs. He responds with, "If she doesn't like me having my dogs chained up, I saw she had rabbits in cages in the barn, I'm going to report her for that" I told him that the dept of Ag, trade and consumer protection handles landlord tenant disputes and anything else and good luck with that.
     
  16. oldtanker

    oldtanker Senior Member

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    That's why I would never rent. I did rent crop land for a while and my tenant was pretty good. But when I decided that I didn't like all the chemicals he was using he went from friend to foe in a heartbeat. Never again. I've heard horror stories from landlords, mostly one family dwellings that are unbelievable. One, because of state welfare laws at the time could not evict a welfare family for nonpayment because it was winter and had to pay to fill a 400 gallon propane tank because the state had run out of heat assistance money. WTF???? One guy I know rented out his parents house he inherited. Welfare tenants did so much damage that he sold a 100K house for 9K. Granted, the money wasn't an issue with him. The loss in value was a write off, but still, can't evict a person even though they are destroying your property????

    Rick
     
  17. lantraxco

    lantraxco Senior Member

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    Yep, same here in Oregon, they even get free legal assitance to fight eviction since they have no money.