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Before any sort of construction project can take place, often a certain amount of deconstruction is necessary. In many cases, something old has to be removed to make way for something new. This could involve a building or parking lot, or perhaps a whole new building. And while the demolition process is pretty straightforward, it entails much more than just knocking something down or taking something out. In order for a project to be successful, there are certain steps that have to be followed.

Environmental Construction Group hands you this guide to a successful demolition project, from planning through cleanup.

The planning stage.

Building demolition sites are highly regulated and must meet federal, state, and local requirements.

The creation of a plan is one of the most important parts, that involves obtaining all of the necessary permits. Both city ordinances and those pertaining to local areas have to be adhered to. When the job gets approval, the demo company will then devise a plan for the demolition procedure, which includes the methods that will be used. At that point, safety measures will be put in place, such as nets, screens, and covered walkways. A plan will also be put together for handling any debris that is left behind.

It’s equally important to consider:

Whether the demolition (and subsequent construction, if applicable) will disturb any environment or wetlands.

If the building is considered a historic landmark.

Depending on your state and local government regulations, you may need to obtain permits before starting demolition.

The preparation stage.

When the plan is in place, it’s time to prepare the site. This starts by ensuring that the entire building is completely cleaned out. Water, gas, and electricity must also be addressed, if applicable.

After permitting, careful preparation will keep the demolition running smoothly throughout the process.


According to OSHA, labor for wrecking and demolition work falls under the Special Trade Contractors category.

These contractors bring expertise in:

  • Concrete breaking for streets and highways
  • Demolition of buildings or other structures (except marine)
  • Dismantling steel oil tanks (except oil field work)
  • Wrecking of buildings or other structures (except marine)

Decide which outside contractors you want to use. Sometimes state or local governments will provide lists of pre-approved contractors — a great starting point for major projects.

Building inspections

There’s nothing like being elbow-deep in a demolition project and finding asbestos, lead paint, or some other HBM at the site. Regulated abatement is required if HBMs are discovered during a demo — and that can completely bust a budget if you didn’t plan for it. The best way to avoid surprises is to arrange a thorough building inspection, including sampling for HBMs.

Cost control and contingency planning

Keeping costs under control during demolition is as essential as during construction. Choose someone on staff or an outside contractor dedicated to cost control and budgeting to work closely with project managers.

Budgeting should also include a contingency plan to cover any unforeseen costs. For example, if a building’s plumbing or septic system is going to be used for reconstruction, it must be functional. But older pipes and plumbing can rust, age, and deteriorate, and even cause explosions and flooding, and as a result, incur unexpected project costs.

Building inventory

What’s your plan for the leftover items in the building? Things like desks, chairs, and other office furniture can be donated to local businesses, The Salvation Army, or Goodwill, or distributed via community sales, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. Printers, computers, or other technology can be recycled or donated.

To offload things like expired cleaning supplies and old paint, check local websites for hazardous waste pickup and disposal days.

Salvage and donate first. Recycle second. Going to the landfill is a last resort.

The demolition stage.

Okay, so now it’s finally time for the actual demolition. With a good plan and the right preparation, this should actually be the easy part. Of course, during the demo stage, safety is the number one priority. All workers should know exactly what to expect and the roles they will play. Fire-fighting materials should always be nearby, along with medical and first-aid facilities.

So how do you demolish a building? There are several demolition methods to consider. These include:

  • Implosion: Explosives cause a building to collapse from the inside out.
  • Excavator demolition: The right boom topples the building. The most common excavator attachments are shears, crushers, and hydraulic hammers.
  • Wrecking ball: It’s inexpensive and quick, but this iconic form of demolition is rarely used today because it creates dust, debris, and safety hazards.
  • Selective demolition: A more eco-conscious alternative, this method is also known as deconstruction because it retains the structure while removing specific sections. Deconstruction works well for remodels, upgrades, and extensions, promoting reuse and recycling and reducing the demo’s overall environmental impact.

Safety first

It’s crucial to keep your workers safe during demolition projects. These sites are full of cranes, sledgehammers, and debris, and they’re dirty, loud, and riddled with trip hazards.

Careful contractor selection, team training, and safety oversight can go a long way in reducing incident rates. Full-time safety oversight personnel, for example, help ensure that workers are performing their jobs safely and efficiently. They also keep track of incidents, host toolbox talks, and provide one-on-one consultation.

The cleanup stage.

The last step in the demolition process is the cleanup. Even when a small building is torn down, it can create quite a big mess. This is why debris removal should be part of the initial plan. Once everything is hauled away, things like temporary fencing or signs also need to be removed.

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

Hire experienced excavators

Experienced excavators can have a hefty price tag, and for a good reason. They specialize in safely operating heavy equipment around people, in small spaces, near underground utilities, and on different terrain. If you have a giant foundation to fill or lots of square footage to level, it will pay off to bring in the best crew available.

Take down signage and clear the site

Before you wrap up the project, take down all temporary fencing and signage and properly dispose of it. If necessary, clean up the parking lots you used, fix potholes, and repaint lines.

We are ECG, we are safety first.

This field definitely needs some expert hands and skill. So, have you decided on what type of project you need? Make sure you research on this for a while before coming up with a decision.

We pride ourselves in providing Demolition, Abatement and Environmental Services you can depend on. (Concrete cutting, coring, green demolition, disinfection and sterilization cleaning services, asbestos abatement and more)

Contact us to get started on your next project, Call us: 562-438-7999.