Demolition projects aren’t always as fun as they’re cracked up to be.

chip gains fixer upper

Large scale demos are complex.

Here is our (brief) step-by-step guide to a successful demolition project, planning through cleanup.

Things are always easier said than done. If you have questions about your project, get in touch!


The Planning Stage

You’ve decided you want to tear down a building. Sounds easy, right? Well, not exactly. First, ensure the demolition activities are approved through local and city ordinances. Here are some things to consider:

  • Will you be disturbing any environment or wetlands during the demolition (and succeeding construction, if applicable) process?
  • Is the building considered a historical landmark?
  • If/when the building comes down, hat are the implications for the surrounding community?

old mill

Depending on your state and local governments, you may need to obtain permits before starting demolition activities. Always check before you get yourself in too deep with a large project and find you’re not in compliance.


The Prep Stage

Permitting is a big first step, but planning the demolition will keep things running smoothly through the whole process.



Decide which outside contractors you want to use. Sometimes states or local governments will have lists of pre-approved contractors on their lists that they use – it’s a great starting point for big projects.


Cost Control

Although eliminating a building might save you money in the long run, keeping costs under control during demolition is essential. Have someone on your staff (or an outside contractor) dedicated to cost control, budgeting, and related tasks. As long as they work closely with project managers, your cash flow should be safe and sound.

Building Inspections

There’s nothing like being elbow deep in a demolition project and finding asbestos, lead paint, or some other hazardous building materials (HBM). Regulated abatement is a must if HBMs are discovered during a demo – and that can completely bust a budget when not accounted for. The best way to avoid “surprises” is to have a through building inspection performed, including sampling for HBM.

old printers

Building Inventory

What are you going to do with all of the leftover “stuff” hanging out in the building you’re going to demo? There are a couple of options. If things are still usable, such as desks, chairs, or other office furniture, it’s always a nice gesture to donate it to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill. Printers, computers, or other technology should be recycled (yet another thing that cannot be thrown into a dumpster).

Check your local websites for hazardous waste pickup days for your technology, cleaning supplies, batteries, leftover paint, and other things that you might find in maintenance closets in the old building.

First, salvage. Then recycle. Last resort is the landfill.



The Demolition Stage

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the paperwork heavy and prep part. Now you’re ready to start tearing things up…. But there is a “but:” You need to keep your workers safe. Demolition projects are dangerous: there are cranes, wrecking balls, sledge hammers, and debris everywhere. The sites are dirty, loud, and full of trip hazards.

That’s why you need to choose your contractors wisely – do they value safety over productivity? Have they had any major incidents recently?

Full-time safety oversight is always a good option for big demolition projects, too.  A safety professional comes in, monitors the site during work hours, and ensures workers are doing things safely and efficiently. They also keep track of incidents, host “toolbox talks”, and provide one-on-one consult when necessary.

Safety should be your #1 priority on demolition projects. Your building is going to make it down either way, but it’ll get done quicker when people don’t get hurt.



The Cleanup Stage

It might be all downhill from the time the last piece of foundation is pulled up, but complacency cannot set in during cleanup.

Hire experienced excavators

Experienced excavators can have a hefty price tag, but there’s a good reason for it. They have had years of experience working around people, in small spaces, near underground utilities, and on different kinds of terrain. If you have a giant foundation to fill or terrain to level, bring in the best crew you can.

Take down signage and clear the site

 Before you wrap up the project, take down all temporary fencing and signage that has been there – and properly dispose of it. You just did a bunch of work on a big project; you don’t want to leave it a mess.

If necessary, clean up the parking lots you used, fix potholes, and repaint lines.

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