When it came time to look for demolition contractors, I turned to Home Advisor, Houzz & Yelp. I contacted 3 different companies, and it turned out that only 1 of them had availability to come over and scope the project. We ended up working with Master Demolition, and as the first contractor we had hired for our project, I was so pleasantly surprised! They were professional, friendly and did great work.
Most of the materials and fixtures on the first level were old, outdated and not in great condition. So we decided to "demo to the studs", which means taking everything out except for the existing frame structure. This also means a lot of waste. I asked our demolition contractor what they do with all that waste - he told me they would collect it all in one container on site, and that at the dump (which is about 10 miles from our house) it would be sorted and what could be recycled would be separated. I'm a little skeptical of that process, because I've toured a local MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) and the stats are pretty dismal on the recycling rates from mixed waste. And the materials in our demolition (drywall, tile, carpet, old fixtures) likely didn't have a lot of value in the recycling market. The other option is if you have fixtures and materials that are in good condition, you can donate them to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It is a great organization and proceeds from these stores go back into their community building programs.
I did not get to have my HGTV moment where I took a sledge hammer to a wall or karate chopped a beam, but that's OK. :) When I left in the morning we had walls, ceilings and floors... and by the time I got home that night there was nothing left! I missed most of the process which I imagine was a crazy, loud, messy, disaster zone! But I have to say, it's amazing to see the totally open space which really helps to envision what's possible.
Next up will be sandblasting the beams on the ceiling. They were part of the original post & beam construction, that sadly got covered with paint and drywall, so we're going to try to re-store them to match the beams on the upper level. Photos of that to come!