Knocking down a house is a process that seems pretty straightforward at first glance, but doing it properly actually requires some careful preparation. There’s a surprising amount of regulation and record-keeping you need to deal with. This article will show you how to get ready for a residential demolition project and protect yourself from potential dangers along the way.
1. Conduct A Thorough Walkthrough
The first step of any demolition project is to thoroughly inspect the property you’re working on to get a better understanding of the scope of the work required. Will you have to remove and dispose of furniture and appliances, or is the home already stripped down? What kind of materials need to be removed? Is there any ground clearing work that needs to be done on the land around the house? If you are relying on the assistance of contractors to conduct your demolition, this is a great time to call them in — they can help you define the full scope of the project.
2. Check Your Local Regulations
Like most construction activity, demolition is regulated by government authorities at both the state and local level. Check with the applicable authorities (e.g. city council, state departments of natural resources and environmental protection) to find out what sort of paperwork you need to file prior to starting your demolition work. In many cities you’ll have to secure a demolition permit, and this will cost money.
3. Look Out For Hazardous Materials
There are several reasons government bodies take an interest in demolition, but the most important is to see that hazardous materials are disposed of safely. If you have any evidence that the home you’re demolishing includes hazardous materials (including asbestos, CFCs in appliances, lead, and heavy metals) you should have the site inspected by an environmental engineer or other professional who can tell you exactly what you’re dealing with.
4. Hire The Right Professionals
If you do have hazardous materials to deal with, you’ll probably need to hire a contractor or sub-contractor who is licensed to dispose of them properly. This is not your only need for professional help, though! Even if you handle the bulk of your demolition work personally, you still need to ensure that all the material removed from your site is disposed of properly. This means the waste management company you hire should be carefully checked to ensure that they handle materials (both hazardous and non-hazardous ones) safely.
5. Document Your Work
Make sure that you establish a comprehensive paper trail covering all of your demolition work, especially that which you delegate to contractors and other professionals. A full set of receipts and records will show who took responsibility for what work. This can be important if a dispute about improper material disposal or environmental contamination arises in the future. If you intend to sell your property after clearing it, a comprehensive demolition record will be very useful for the buyer, too.
Hopefully you’re now aware that handling a residential demolition job properly requires a lot more than just swinging a sledgehammer! Taking care of all the paperwork and record-keeping required for a legal demolition job can be a hassle, but keeping your paper trail in order can protect you from a world of potential problems during and after your demolition work.