Things to Know Before You Start a Demolition Project

To many people, demolition sounds fun and conjures up images of swinging sledgehammers, flying wrecking balls, and sanctioned destruction. However, demolition is a serious business with numerous considerations involved – some of which can be dangerous or deadly. The fact is, there are certain things you need to be fully aware of before you initiate a demolition project, small or large, if you want to be safe and have the demolition process go as smoothly as possible.

Demolition Is a Major Undertaking

The first thing you need to know about demolition projects (or deconstruction projects, as they are often called) is that they will always turn out to be bigger than you originally anticipate. What seems like a simple, straightforward task will grow before your eyes: the amount of structure that needs to be demolished will seem larger, the time it takes will be longer, and the rubble that needs to be hauled off will likely seem scientifically impossible. Demolition projects are not as easy as you may think, which is why they are best left to the professionals.

Demolition is Not for Weekend DIYers

Demolition project

The unpredictable aspects of demolition mean that it should never be considered a do-it-yourself task. There are permits to obtain, rules to be followed, and quite a few dangers. Structures don’t always collapse the way you hoped or planned, not all structures are in compliance with modern building codes, older structures may be filled with dangerous asbestos, and dust in general can quickly get out of control. Because of these factors, demolition should always be handled by the professionals.

Get Your Permits

Demolition permit requirements vary greatly from area to area, but in virtually all cases you will need a permit for your demolition project. Expect quite a bit of paperwork, inspections, and some fees that you may want to include in your budget. It’s best to follow the rules when it comes to the legal ramifications of demolition. You should start by contacting your local municipality for guidance on the process.

Be Very Clear About Demolition Plans

You don’t want something demolished that you planned to keep in place. That’s why it is very important that what and what is not to be taken down is made extremely clear. This is especially true for partial demolitions, such as those for remodeling. There is no rewind button on a demolition; once it’s gone, it’s gone.

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Inspections for Harmful Substances

Part of the demolition process typically includes an inspection to determine if there are any harmful materials present, including the likes of lead paint, asbestos, and other toxins. One of the major issues you are likely to encounter is asbestos. When a structure contains asbestos, certain regulations must be followed, and they vary depending on what is being demolished (e.g., single-family dwelling, commercial building). The rules aren’t there to make your life more difficult, but rather to keep you, your neighbors, and the crew safe.

Metal scraps recycling

Salvage or Sell

Before you start a demolition project, it is a good idea to identify the items that you may be able to salvage or sell so that you can plan accordingly. This is actually where the idea of deconstruction, as opposed to demolition, comes into play: some items can be removed before demolition and either salvaged, sold, or reused. These items include the following:

  • Appliances
  • Air conditioning units
  • Light fixtures
  • Glass
  • Radiators
  • Ductwork
  • Piping
  • Slate

This is only a partial list, and gives you a good idea of what you can do with some of the materials involved in a demolition if you plan ahead of time. You should check with local recycling companies to find out more about what your practical options are.

Utilities Must Be Disconnected

It is critical that utilities be disconnected before demolition begins or someone will get seriously, if not fatally, injured. This includes electricity, water, sewer, and natural gas. Notify these respective companies ahead of time to be sure that everything is turned off on the day that demolition begins. You can imagine the type of disaster that would occur if, say, the natural gas has not been turned off when you start demolishing a building.

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Something else to keep in mind is that the rubble and aftermath of demolition will need to go somewhere, and it is best to plan ahead for this, too. You will likely need a dumpster on-site, and these need to be rented ahead of time so that you can be sure they are available on the day that demolition starts. Rental dumpsters come in a variety of sizes.


Demolition projects often involve multiple issues from permits, inspections, and dangerous materials to dealing with the rubble that results. Planning is key, from having utilities disconnected, to a clear map of what is to be demolished, to deciding how to handle materials that you want to salvage or sell. A careful, well-informed approach to demolition will minimize the unexpected issues that tend to crop up.

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When it comes to demolition and deconstruction, Accurate Recycling would like to be your partner. We offer dumpster rentals specifically for construction and demolition, ranging in size from 10 to 40 cubic yards. Accurate Recycling, as our name implies, will also assist you with recycling, salvage, and disposal. We purchase scrap metal at competitive prices. Contact us today for experienced help with your next demolition project!