Demolition: It’s Not Just Wrecking Stuff

You have to be a sleuth before you can swing that demo hammer

Not so fast! If we’re to believe those renovation/remake shows on cable, demolition is just donning a pair of safety glasses, knocking it all down, and hauling it away. It’s hardly ever that simple.

Demolition first requires that you know what you’re knocking down. It may contain hazardous materials that must be properly handled and discarded. Maybe even some of the material can be recycled. Long before the demolition gets underway there’s a complex level of investigation and identification that happens first.

Not a DIY project

Older structures undergoing demolition or renovation often contain substances that have, over time, been found to be dangerous. They might continue to be fine if left undisturbed, but they pose a serious danger to people or the environment if improperly handled during the demolition process.

One of the most common substances that must be identified prior to demolition and then handled and discarded properly, is asbestos. The Spruce reports that, according to the latest information published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), homeowners can remove asbestos themselves.

The agency advises, however, that you seek out the services of an accredited asbestos abatement professional. They’ve got both the equipment and the experience to safely remove, contain, and dispose of this material. It has the potential to cause serious harm. Asbestos irritates and causes scarring of lung tissue and it’s been linked to a fatal form of lung cancer called mesothelioma.

Even though there may be no regulations preventing you from removing asbestos yourself as a homeowner, you may likely be required to obtain specific permits. You’ll also have to take demolition material containing asbestos to approved facilities. It might be a better idea to put down the demolition hammer and call a professional.

And, all bets are off if it’s a commercial property. Current laws require the owner to utilize a certified abatement professional to contain, remove, and dispose of any material containing asbestos.

Costly mistakes

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Does not knowing about – or ignoring – potential hazardous or harmful material that will be exposed during a demolition excuse you from paying the consequences?

Ask Joanna and Chip Gaines, stars of the HGTV home improvement hit Fixer Upper. The EPA watched five seasons’ worth of episodes and concluded that the couple and their workers did not depict the normal lead-safe practices that should be followed when lead paint is removed during the demolition process.

In all, the EPA announced it had found possible violations in 33 of the properties the couple and their business had worked on and which had appeared on the show. The Gaines agreed to pay a civil penalty of $40,000. They’ll also spend $160,000 to properly abate any lead-based paint hazards in these homes. Meanwhile, Chip Gaines has been using social media to advise that Fixer Upper viewers should work with “certified renovators” as they approach home projects. A wise and money-saving suggestion.

The show is no longer being produced for HGTV, but the couple’s company, Magnolia Homes, announced it would take steps to stay in compliance with the EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act. It specifies with how to deal with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)asbestos, radon, and lead-based paint.

Your neighbors will get involved

They probably aren’t going to ask if they can help, but your neighbors will be in on the action when the demolition gets underway. Watching it on a DIY or home improvement channel doesn’t give you a realistic experience. You might not hear it because it’s been edited or music has been added, but demolition is loud. Workers wear hearing protection. Your neighbors will get an earful of it, too.

Besides being potentially dangerous, improperly handled demolition can also be messy. A professional contracting company specializing in demolition will work to contain the dust and mess and they’ll get it done quickly. You and your neighbors will appreciate the efficiency.

An actual residential or commercial demolition project bears little resemblance to anything you’ve seen on TV. Sure, common sense tells you the process takes longer than 30 minutes. But it takes even longer than most people realize because the demolition actually starts with a wide array of preparatory activities that involve everything from applying for permits to sampling and testing for hazardous building materials. Showing it on TV could fill up a whole season’s worth of episodes. Get a demolition quote from us.

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