What to Expect with Commercial Demolition

Created on:

August 16, 2022

A wise man once said, “unless you work in demolition, don’t burn bridges.” Those are good words for life and good news for us, because we do in fact work in demolition. Demolition is more than “burning bridges,” or other types of deconstruction. Demolition is often the first step in reconstruction and rebuilding, and it’s key in that process. 

Generally, when people think about demolition, they think about the swinging sledgehammers, falling walls and close calls. It seems that most remodeling shows on cable TV contain all three of those elements, with the added “I love demo day” exclamation. But demolition is dangerous and is not just any DIY project. 

Types of Demolition

There are four typical categories of demolition that help separate the topic into small, mid-size and large projects. 

  1. Total Demolition

As it sounds, the building is “totally” removed. In this instance, you’re clearing a property because the previous structure no longer serves your needs. If a customer is seeking to rebuild, it’s likely the previous structure is too different from your current needs that starting from scratch is a better alternative than attempting to incorporate the older structure. 

  1. Selective Demolition

In a selective demolition project, only certain aspects of a structure are removed. There are various reasons to go in this direction. At times, building codes incentivize selective demolition by removing an initial “impact fee” because the new project is able to be classified as a remodel vs. new construction. 

  1. Interior Demolition

An interior demolition strips a building down to its “bones'' while leaving the exterior fully intact and untouched. Many historical buildings receive this type of demolition work to maintain the history while modernizing the facility. 

The 1948-1952 renovation of the White House – known as the Truman Reconstruction – is a great example of this type of demolition project.

  1. Deconstruction

A deconstruction demolition has the goal for future reconstruction with the same material. A historic cabin can be dismantled, labeled and then rebuilt. The emphasis in a deconstruction project is that the property is demolished methodically, maintaining the integrity of the structure, though now in pieces and not as a whole. 

Commercial Demolition Expectations

If you find yourself looking to tackle a future commercial demolition project, there are several expectations you should keep in mind. 

  1. SAFETY. Prioritizing safety isn’t a luxurious option for “big city” jobs under greater microscopes; it’s absolutely necessary. 

Demolition is a dangerous activity. Every load bearing wall removed contains serious implications. Other walls may fall in nearby related areas. Massive amounts of weight are being supported with these structural components, so taking care is an absolute necessity. 

As a customer, it’d be good for you to ask safety questions to your commercial demolition team. Attempt to understand their process and the steps they will take. Give them the time they need to accomplish the demolition project safely and orderly. 

  1. PROCESS. Any well thought out endeavor has a process. Things need to be accomplished before the next parts of the project can begin. If that process gets disordered, then problems, costs and schedules can be affected. 

Expecting your commercial demolition team to have a process will help set good expectations for yourself and solidify a time frame. Below is a basic outline of a commercial demolition project:

  • Permitting
  • Clearing Debris and Items from Property
  • Safety Implementation
  • Demolition Commencement
  • Debris Removal
  1. CONTAMINANTS. When a demolition project is on the edge of commencement, it’s not always clear what other potential hazardous material the team may run into. A property owner should expect the potential for mitigating lead paints, asbestos and other potential toxins. Addressing these types of materials require further protocols which can then increase the cost and schedule of the project. 

Commercial demolition always carries levels of excitement and anticipation. It’s a harbinger of things to come. If you’re looking to take next steps in a demolition project, it’s good to keep these processes in mind to help set healthy expectations and figure out questions for your future demolition team. 

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