You could think of construction demolition as deconstruction. Years ago the wrecking ball just knocked down buildings and bulldozers came in to finish the job smashing everything to smithereens. Then trucks came in and hauled everything to the landfill. No one thought of salvaging anything in those days.
Today’s demolition companies have more to think about. First of all in very old buildings hazardous materials are always a concern. They have to be disposed of properly and proper precautions must be taken to protect the workers handling them. I have a little experience in this area. When I was working in a veterinary hospital I was also overseeing the rental of apartments in an adjacent very old house. I was asked by the owner to see if demolishing the house was less expensive than renovation. I was very surprised to find that it was not cheaper to just tear it down. The demolition company explained that they had to come in and evaluate the materials in the house first so they knew how much it would cost to dispose of them. They also had to get many permits from the city, the power company, and the water department. By the time I got an estimate, the estimate for renovation did not look bad at all.
I also watched the tedious process of deconstructing an old bakery across the street. The building was huge and it had adjacent barns that had housed the horse drawn carts and the horses. They took the building apart piece by piece and I watched as various salvage companies came in and took the bricks, windows, doors, slate roof, plumbing fixtures and scrap metal from the site. Yet another company came in and removed all the torn up paving materials. By the time they had completed the job, it looked as if the century old building had never existed. It was nice to know that all those materials would be reused for other purposes rather than dumped into a landfill.
Regulations for demolition vary from one area to another but I am happy to see that salvage companies recognize the value of old building materials and buy them for resale. Even older factories have antique timber that is suitable for beams and flooring. Scrap metal can be taken directly to a recycling center. The bakery I mentioned had beautiful architectural details and they were carefully removed and quickly snapped up by a local company that sells things like that. Construction demolition is really just deconstruction and repurposing old materials instead of dumping them.
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