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Construction Blog

Construction Stage: Demolition

We know how difficult the construction process can be, and how many lessons are learned in the process.  In an effort to save you time and energy learning these lessons the hard way, we’ve put together some key advice on what to expect from each phase as well as what pitfalls and surprises could be lurking around the corner!

DEMOLITION

PREPARATION

In most cases, demolition work cannot be started until a municipal permit has been obtained. Generally, this is part of a building permit, but in some cases a special demolition permit can be obtained to start deconstruction in advance. It is the property owner’s legal responsibility to have permits in place, but their general contractor can be employed to obtain them on their behalf. There are always fees and time required to create the documentation and paperwork to apply – and there are always municipal fees associated with obtaining them once they are accepted.

WARNING

Asbestos and other contaminants are a big concern in the world today.

Before anything can be disturbed, it must be tested. Under today’s WCB regulations, that testing must be done by an authorized third party, and cannot be undertaken by the property owner or the general contractor directly. Hiring a testing firm can be expensive, and dealing with discovered asbestos or other hazardous contaminants is even more expensive. It’s important to do this testing as early as possible so that costs can be budgeted for.

Prior to heavy demolition starting, it’s worth considering taking time to salvage anything of value for reuse. In many cases this adds to the project schedule, but if done extensively the salvage time may reduce some demolition costs. There are often people willing to spend their time removing certain items from an old home for free. Everyone wins – they save on buying new materials, you save on disposal, and the world is better for your sustainable building practices.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Once demolition is cleared to start, you’ll need to jump in with both feet. The Demolition Phase is possibly the scariest and most complication fraught stage, but it’s also the exciting starting gun before the great race to the finish line.

If an entire building needs to be removed, heavy equipment and machinery will be brought in to crush the structure and haul it away to be sorted and disposed of. Municipal services would need to be disconnected or capped off prior to a complete building demolition. There are often service fees charged by your service providers for disconnection and reconnection. Once the demolition starts, it all comes down and is removed in the span of only a few days. Generally, a lot of the same equipment can stay on site and be used to continue to the excavation stage.

If you’re undertaking a renovation, your demolition is going to be a lot more manual. Depending on the type of renovation, a crew will come in to strip out every part of the structure necessary to prepare for the new construction. This could take one person a single day, or many people many weeks, depending on your project requirements.

WARNING

Demolition in a renovation uncovers a lot of skeletons.

Previously unseen inner workings of a building are exposed and it’s common to see things we don’t like or expect. Often this first phase is where unexpected costs are revealed in the form of:

  • Additional structural needs exposed
  • Discovered water infiltration and/or rot & mold
  • Faulty or non-compliant electrical systems uncovered
  • Faulty or non-compliant plumbing uncovered
  • Unusual previous construction methods in general

Demolition is loud, it’s messy, and it’s highly disruptive – even for small projects. For mid to large renovations (and all full demolitions), the home will lose power, water, sewer, and potentially other services for extended periods of time. Most renovation projects of mid to large size will require that you move out of the home before demolition starts and until all construction work is completed. Personal belongings will need to be packed away and in many cases, removed from the house entirely.

Now that we’ve cleared out the old, it’s time to bring in the new!

Thoughtful Note...

It’s nice to let your neighbours know what your plans are! Demolition will create a lot of dust and noise, so give everyone some advanced warning.

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About the Author

Russ started in the construction industry at an early age and worked his way up steadily ever since. After 5 years of renovation experience, he spent 10 years with a luxury home builder in Victoria as site foreman. Always looking for a new challenge and opportunity for growth, starting Interactive Construction was the next logical step in his career. Running Interactive allows Russ to combine his extensive construction experience with his computer programming expertise. This combination has helped build a company that offers state of the art project management coupled with high-quality home construction.

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