Building Demolition and Waste Management Plan

Demolishing gazebos with a sledgehammer can be fairly easy, but conducting demolition work on a 5-story building is another story altogether. Definitely, for high-rise buildings, you would need to bring in the heavy equipment like wrecking balls and excavators. Explosives are often part of the equation in an attempt to create an implosion. Professionals would agree that when done right, this is the safer, easier, and faster way to bring down large structures. This is especially true when the building demolition area is surrounded by other buildings. How does this work and what happens to the debris afterwards?

Explosive Demolition

What is demolition? In basic terms, it is the process of bringing down something, like a structure. So what is explosive demolition? The basic premise in this process is to remove the structural support of a building to a particular level so that it falls down on itself. The intention is allow the heavier section to collide with the lower portion with such a force that it brings down the entire structure. This is normally achieved with the use of triggered explosives.

So essentially, gravity plays a huge role in a successful explosive demolition. The explosive must be carefully and strategically placed on various levels of the building to ensure multiple collapsing points. This means that it is a well-planned execution that requires a demolition work plan, which calculates the potential damage and sufficient number of explosives that will cause the collapse of the structure.

So what happens to the pile of rubble that ensure after? Can you imagine going through all that debris to clean up tiles, concrete, and other materials? Unlike in manual removal of support beams, explosive demolition collapses everything resulting in the creation of an implosion based on the examination of the architectural blueprints of the structure.

The Challenge

For demolition contractors, the challenge is not only controlling the way that the structure falls, like whether it should go over to a side where there is an open area of simply go down on its own footprints. The issue goes far beyond tipping the building over or even ensuring that surrounding structures are not damaged by the flying debris that ensues after the demolition works.

The challenge extends well after the building has fallen down. In most instances, the cleanup is more tedious than the preparation and execution of the explosive demolition. Aside from the building materials, cleanup crews also have to deal with clearing steel support cables used as safety precautions.

The approach to the demolition and cleanup would vary extensively based on the type of structure, its height, and the surrounding area. This only increases the challenge that contractors have to face when dealing with demolition works.


What is deconstruction? This is the labor-intensive process of demolishing a structure with the intention of maximizing the amount of materials that can be potentially recycled from the building. This means that magnesite, timber, carpet removal, and tiled floor removal may be done manually. Therefore, you can expect substantial amounts of hand demolition that is followed by hand sorting and separation of materials so that it can be prepared and ready for selling.

How does deconstruction differ from demolition, or are they the same? Conventional demolition usually allows for the recycling of as much as 90% of the materials recovered from a typical building site. In terms of the amount of recyclable materials generated, there is very little difference between these methods. The main difference lies in the labor-intensive nature associated with the process of deconstruction.

With conventional demolition, equipment and technology usually comes into play. Deconstruction relies on hand dismantlement and some level of concrete grinding. This means that deconstruction is comparatively more time consuming, but may be less expensive. The goal with both processes remain the same though, which is to maximize the amount of marketable recycled materials recovered from various demolition sites.

Waste Management Plan

The waste management plan is a tool used to show the level of compliance exhibited by a specific demolition contractor as it pertains to the existing regulations within a locality. The waste management plan or WMP usually covers the process of salvaging, reusing or recycling 100% of the solids like brick, concrete, rock, sand, soil, asphalt, and stone normally gathered from load bearing wall removals, shed removals or similar clearing activities.

It is equally important that at least 50% of the remaining demolition debris and construction materials generated from the roof, wall, floor removals be salvaged and recycled. In many localities, it is mandated that at least 50% of all the waste generated from building demolition is recycled.

So when is the WMP required? The requirement for the preparation and presentation of the WMP may vary. However, there may be similar circumstances wherein this documentation becomes necessary like when the building demolition work will reach a particular amount. For example if the demolition work (excluding cost of equipment rental) goes beyond $5,000, then the Building Official may require a WMP.

Renovation, remodeling, or the addition to any existing structure or the inclusion of a new structure may also require the preparation of a WMP. In this instance, the amount can be significantly higher considering that more work would be done. Normally, the Building Official would require the presentation of a WMP when the cost of the work goes beyond $250,000.

If the cost of the new structure that you will put up does not go beyond $250,000, but the square footage that it covers is equal or greater than 2,000 square feet, you may still be required by the Building Official to submit a WMP.

Again, it is necessary to emphasize that these regulations and requirements covering the waste management plan can vary depending on the building codes in your locality.

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