What is Demolition?

The term demolition refers to the science and engineering in safely and effectively tearing down condemned buildings and other tall, artificial structures. For small, simple buildings such as two or three-story houses or offices, the process of demolition is just simple and can be done manually or mechanically. Larger, taller, and more complex buildings often require the use of a wrecking ball or use the building implosion method, which heavily relies on explosives. This method is very reliable, and the collapse of the tall structure usually takes only a few seconds. But a downside to this method is it can usually take weeks or months to prepare a structure for this method.

What is a Demolition Scope of Work?

Let’s define what is a scope of work first. Scope of work is a business document that outlines an area in an agreement where the type of work to be performed and its corresponding tasks are listed. It brings together everything from work details, schedules, terms, and expected outcomes to not only define exactly what needs to be done in a project but also to avoid a “scope creep” – which is tasks ballooning uncontrollably beyond what was planned. Scope of work should also contain milestones, reports, deliverables, and end products that should be provided by the performing party.

A demolition scope of work lists the tasks that need to be done depending on the type of demolition method, the building, and the equipment used. A demolition scope of work is needed to make the process more efficient and it acts as a useful guide to have clear insight on what should be done.

What is the Planning Process of Demolition?

When a particular structure has reached the end of its lifespan, that structure is now unsafe for occupation and is unsafe around neighboring buildings. The building is now usually condemned for demolition. Here is the planning process that goes into a building demolition:

Surveying. This means that the different parameters of a structure and its surroundings are being studied, and the process is the initial part of the planning process prior to demolition. There are two types of surveying, which are building surveying and structural surveying.Removal of hazards. The next step in the planning process of demolition is the assessment and removal of hazardous materials. Personnel with special qualifications are usually called upon to remove such materials from the site. Examples of such materials include radioactive materials, asbestos minerals, electrical wirings, and objects that are contaminated with petrol or other dangerous chemicals.Preparation of plans. A detailed demolition plan is then prepared after the removal of hazards on site. The plan usually consists of the demolition procedure, the safety measures to be taken during the demolition, the method of handling debris, and the timetable needed for the entire process to be completed.Briefing for safety measures. In this part of the strategic planning process, all personnel including the workers, site supervisors, and engineers are briefed on the potential hazards in the demolition. Flammable materials (except those that are needed for demolition) are kept away in a safe storage space and firefighting materials are on standby until the entire process is complete.

What are the Various Demolition Methods and Types?

The methods used for the demolition process greatly vary depending on the building being demolished, its corresponding surroundings, and the equipment that is needed to perform the actual demolition. Here are some examples of demolition methods:

Interior Demolition. In this method, the interior portions of a structure are taken apart but the exterior is usually preserved. This method is commonly used to prepare for extensive renovation projects.Selective Demolition. In this method, only select interior and exterior parts of a structure are to be demolished, while the rest of the structure and its corresponding areas are preserved.Dismantling. In this method, the structure is carefully being dismantled for the purpose of preserving components for reuse or refurbishment. This is usually the most labor-intensive method since it involves extra careful methods in order to avoid damage to the components that are to be preserved.Total Demolition. This method involves total demolition of an entire structure, with no intention of keeping parts and components for future reuse or refurbishment. It can be done mechanically or via controlled building implosion.

What are the Various Types of Equipment Used During Demolition?

Multiple types of equipment can be seen in a demolition site. Here are some of them that are used in a non-explosive demolition method.

Sledgehammers. These are hammers with a large, metal, mallet-like head. It has a long handle and is designed to be used using both hands. Since it has a long handle and a usually heavy head, it generates momentum during a swing that is greater than that of hammers used to drive nails into walls. Sledgehammers are used for demolishing small walls or columns.Excavators and Bulldozers. They are heavy construction equipment that can be used for demolition as well. These machines are typically used when a small building is being demolished. They are used to excavate the soil and debris and transfer it to trucks for transport away from the site.Wrecking ball. Is a heavy steel ball hanging onto a steel rope that is attached to a crane. The use of this is very common in large-scale coarse demolition. When in use, the steel ball strikes a part of the building with heavy force and that part is damaged. Since the invention of hydraulic excavators, the wrecking ball method has seen less frequent use over the years.High reach excavators. These equipment are used whenever the demolition of a high-standing structure using explosives proves to be impossible. These equipment can be used for structures up to 300 feet tall.

Issues Commonly Faced During a Demolition Process

A demolition project, no matter how simple or complex the structure to be demolished is, will always require careful planning. During the process, the personnel involved should also exercise a lot of caution, because no matter how prepared they may be, issues could still surface if there are any overlooked processes.

Hazardous chemicals – these concerns arise if the building or structure to be taken down is located in an industrial area. Pipes or tanks containing chemicals could be stored underneath the building and may cause delays during the demolition process if left unnoticed or totally neglected.Issues regarding surrounding areas – it takes extra planning if the structure to be demolished is located within a densely packed neighborhood area. In some cases, an evacuation of the surrounding area may be called to ensure the safety of the people that reside in it in case something goes wrong during the demolition.Noise concerns – although noise cannot be totally avoided during the demolition process, this becomes a heavy concern when the demolition site takes place near areas where quietness is important, such as churches, hospitals, and elderly residential properties. The noise made can be loud enough to disturb those who reside in elderly homes and make their living inconvenient. The vibrations and signals of the equipment being used in the demolition may also interfere with some hospital equipment.Asbestos. This can be a concern when the structure to be demolished was built during the time when asbestos was still in widespread use. Demolishing structures that utilize asbestos is particularly dangerous since the asbestos fibers will be released into the air. Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause severe lung conditions, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. If there is any asbestos present in the building to be demolished, it must be carefully disposed of in accordance with the place’s safety standards.Laws regarding conservation. A building or structure of historical interest is covered by conservation laws. In some cases, a structure could be built in a place that is a conservation area, so it’s still protected by that area’s conservation laws. When encountering structures such as these, it is imperative that special permission must be obtained from the conservation authorities before the demolition can take place. As special permission is to be needed, this will naturally delay the process of demolition.

Step by Step Guide in Writing a Demolition Scope of Work

Here are some steps you can follow in order to create an effective demolition scope of work:

1. Write the overview and basic information of the demolition project.

To begin creating the demolition scope of work, first, you should write a simple and comprehensible overview of the project or simply, constructing a scope statement that outlines the entire project. In this step, you can also start to write the basic information about the demolition process such as the building or structure to be torn down, the equipment needed and its respective inspection checklist process, how many personnel are needed, the safety precautions to be observed, and the location of the demolition site.

2. Write the project objectives and goals.

In this step, write what are the objectives and intended goals of the demolition project. This highly depends on the method being used. You can start with the reason why the structure is to be demolished, then follow with the goals. If it is only a partial demolition, ensure that the goal that should be reached is to only remove a portion of the structure. If it’s a dismantling, the goal that should be reached is to carefully tear the structure down and ensure that many components are to be reused.

3. Write the scope of the demolition project.

In this part, write and outline the steps that need to be done in order to accomplish the objectives or goals listed in the previous step. This can be done as a bullet list or a simple questionnaire style. Afterwards, you can break down the scope in a separate paragraph into more specific tasks. This can also be written and broken down into phases.  This is done to ensure that every person in the demolition team is in sync with the whole process.

4. Include timelines and milestones.

Including a timeline of the project is necessary to ensure that the major phases of the demolition project’s schedule are properly delineated. The timeline of a demolition scope of work is more than just the start and end dates. This is also a part where you can outline when, where, how, and who will do the tasks in the project. Since a demolition project can be so complex and tedious, milestones can also be added. Having a milestone in the scope of work is a way of monitoring the progress and ensures that it is still on schedule.

5. Include spaces for written reports.

In creating a demolition scope of work, it is also necessary to leave spaces for reports, since this is a task that is performed frequently throughout the project. Types of reports can include status reports, progress reports, and many more. Reports serve as a formal record of the progress of your work, and they also let you know if the project is still on schedule or not.

6. Write exclusions.

Even though what is not written in the demolition scope of work is already outside the scope of work and should not be done, exclusion clauses can still be written in the scope. An exclusion is defined as a description of tasks, items, and actions that are specifically “excluded” in the project scope of work.


What Personal Protective Equipment should be worn by a demolition team?

In a demolition operation, the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) will usually include the following:

  • Eye, face, hand, foot, and head protection (such as hard hats)
  • Respiratory protection, such as industry-grade face masks
  • Hearing protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs
  • Personal Fall Arrest Systems, which consist of a body harness, anchorage, and a connector (can be a lanyard, deceleration device, etc.)
  • Other protective clothing

What is the difference between demolition and deconstruction?

These two terms may mean similar things but they’re different. Demolition refers to the dismantling, razing, or destroying any part of or a whole building or structure. Deconstruction refers to carefully taking a building apart with the intention of preserving valuable parts of it for eventual reuse.

Should the scope of work be very long?

When writing a scope of work, it is important that it should include all the necessary details of the tasks in the project. However, it is also important that you should not write too much and go overboard with too many unnecessary factors. A very long scope of work will surely take time for the contractor to read and verify, and will inevitably lead to delays in working the project.

What is the difference between a scope of work and a statement of work?

A scope of work is basically written inside the statement of work as it presents the clear and concise process in the accomplishment of the specific smart goals of the project. A statement of work generally contains more comprehensive details about the major goals and objectives of a certain project.

Having an effective and well-written scope of work is valuable to the process of getting the tasks in a project done properly. Have a scope of work also helps to not go overboard and beyond the intended tasks, which can slow down a project slightly or significantly. In a demolition project, having a scope of work keeps every personnel in the project on task and holds them accountable. There may be many tasks in this particular project, but an effective scope of work makes it easier to follow. Examples of a demolition scope of work are present above this article, and it is available to you for reference.