Demolition: Major & Soft Strip
Demolition is the process of taking down a whole building, usually in preparation for a new one to go up. There are various reasons why a demolition would take place, for example, because the building is old and unsafe or cannot be renovated to the standard the owner hoped for.
For small buildings such as homes, the demolition process is carried out by large machinery such as wrecking balls, excavators and bulldozers. Larger constructions such as tall buildings and factory chimneys can be destroyed in one fell swoop by explosives but this depends on location and the condition of the building. Often high reach excavators are used to gradually reduce tall buildings and raze them to the ground rather than explosives. The other problem with using implosive techniques is that they can often go wrong if not set properly.
Major demolitions of large sites often catch the attention of the press. When a tower block or power station is razed to the ground using explosives, film of the occasion makes it onto the news and various sites online. The process is called implosion and the key is to ensure that the whole building collapses completely in a matter of seconds. It is a highly specialised process and involves removing critical areas of support so that the building falls in on itself – this is especially important if the structure is in an urban area and the area around needs to be protected.
A 13 storey building that was demolished in this way in Leicester required no less than 4,000 explosive charges. There are, however, inherent dangers in using explosives, not least because things can go wrong – surrounding areas can be damaged and implosions can fail leaving a highly unsafe building that is then difficult to manage. Because of this it is less common than other methods of demolition.
The latest heavy machinery can be used to demolish large skyscrapers and the majority of buildings are more likely to be demolished using traditional methods. High reach excavators can deal with ten and fifteen story buildings and powerful sheer attachments can be used to cut through strong metal structures. An option for buildings that cannot be demolished using external excavators or explosives is actually to dismantle the building from the inside down, leaving just the external walls that can then be collapsed.
Soft Strip Demolition
Soft strip demolition is slightly different and involves removing interior fixture and fittings, basically reducing a building down to its support skeleton. For instance, a soft strip could involve removing doors and window frames, ceiling panels and even floorboards depending on the demolition remit. Soft strip can also be carried out prior to the main demolition of a building to remove materials for recycling such as wood and metal. It can also be a way of getting rid of dangerous materials such as asbestos.
Handling Demolition Waste
The huge amount of waste that is created following a demolition needs to be disposed of sustainably and according to current regulations. Most companies nowadays will send a majority of the wood, metal, glass and concrete, bricks and rubble for recycling. Less goes to landfill than in the past and many demolition companies boast that they can recycle over 90% of the waste produced. Key to good recycling is the segregation of materials onsite and offsite and soft strip demolition is now generally seen as important in this success.
Materials such as brick and concrete are normally taken for crushing and made into aggregate which can then be used in other building projects, for instance road building. Other demolition products can also be either sold off or sent for further recycling and these include anything from reusable bricks, slates and tiles, timber and other flooring as well as structures such as cast iron columns.
You can find demolition companies in your local area by searching our contractor database.