What Exactly Is Demolition?

What exactly is demolition?
Demolition is a complex set of tasks involving structural dismantlement, site clearance, environmental remediation, salvage, recycling, and industrial recovery.

Demolition is a highly sophisticated craft which involves the use of hydraulic equipment with specialized attachments, cranes, loaders, wrecking balls and in some cases explosives.

What is in the demolition commodity stream?
As most of the materials generated on a demolition project have a market value they are not considered waste. On most demolition projects 90% of this material is recycled, salvaged or reused. Typical commodities generated on a demolition project site include:

  • Concrete and other aggregate materials including brick, porcelain, etc.
  • Metals including iron, steel, copper, brass, bronze and other exotic metallic commodities
  • Insulating material
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Flooring and carpets
  • Wiring and conduit
  • Plasterboard
  • Wood
  • Soils
  • Roofing materials
  • Carpet

What is interior demolition?
Interior demolition is the non-structural demolishing of spaces within a structure usually in preparation for reuse and upgrading of the space. This work includes interior wall and ceiling removal, demolition of flooring and some utility services, salvage, and selective structural demolition.

What is explosive demolition or implosion?
The use of explosives to implode a structure is a relatively small part of the demolition process however, it can prove very effective and time efficient. It is a highly specialized part of the demolition process requiring an in-depth knowledge of the nature of structures and the use of explosives. Contractors performing this work, often as subcontractors to a conventional demolition company who perform the site preparation and clearance work are usually licensed professionals.

What is industrial demolition?
Industrial demolition is the dismantlement of structures or facilities used in the production of goods. This work can be done at chemical plants, oil refineries, manufacturing facilities and the like. It often involves the environmental remediation of hazardous substances that were part of the industrial process and potentially contaminated the site. Industrial demolition can be a complex undertaking involving sophisticated engineering, specialized rigging, and complex industrial hygiene requirements.

What is a high reach and how is it used in demolition?
High reach units can involve the use of super long boom arms with specialized hydraulic attachments mounted on excavator platforms. These units are designed to allow access to tall structures, often 20 stories or more, and safe demolition of the building within its footprint.

What is commercial demolition?
Commercial demolition is the partial or complete dismantlement of commercial properties such as office buildings, shopping malls, hotels and the like.

What is deconstruction?
Deconstruction is defined as the labor-intensive demolition of a structure in order to maximize the amount of potentially recyclable materials from the building. It often involved a considerable amount of hand demolition and sort separation in preparation for marketing the structure’s components.

How exactly are demolition and deconstruction different?
Considering that conventional demolition contractors routinely recycled up to 90% of the material generated on a typical demolition site, there is little difference between the two methods of demolition save the labor-intensive nature of deconstruction.

Is demolition a regulated industry?

Demolition contractors are some of the most regulated construction industry professionals. As they are working on structures that are often damaged by fire, weather, or structural deficiency, most demolition projects require permit review by local municipal building departments. As demolition contractors handle hazardous materials and toxic substances there are a host of municipal, state and federal environmental regulations that govern the industry’s operations. As demolition is a dynamic craft and contractors are dealing with a variety of structures, the industry’s health and safety regulations are very strong. Many states have their own health & safety rules and the Federal Government’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) Construction Standard (29 CFR 1926) contains a specific section on demolition operations.

Does demolition involve historic conservation?
Demolition contractors, because of their experience and knowledge of the nature of structures, often have considerable expertise in historic preservation. They understand what structural elements can be saved and how to assure that the integrity of an historic structure can be maintained.

Asbestos and demolition
Asbestos is an insulating and sound attenuating product that is used as pipe and ceiling insulation, sprayed-on fireproofing, and a variety of other uses. It can also be contained in flooring, roofing materials and some cement products. Overexposure to asbestos can cause health problems. Asbestos abatement, the safe removal of asbestos, is a major part of the demolition process. It is highly regulated, and its safe handling and disposal is a major segment of the demolition market.