The differences between large and small-scale demolition

Every demolition project is unique, but there is a stark difference in the approach a demolition company takes with large-scale and small-scale projects.

The techniques used to bring a building down differ depending on the size of the building, the local environment and health and safety. Complications, such as the presence of asbestos, can also lead to a change in tact. Regardless, best practice applies to 99 per cent of projects no matter their complexity or scale.

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between large and small-scale demolition:

Small-scale demolition

Small-scale demolition projects typically involve houses, outbuildings and other structures that are beneath three storeys high. The process of small-scale demolition is actually rather simple in comparison to large-scale demolition, although the level of planning and expertise required to see a project through is still vast.

For small buildings that need to be brought down quickly, demolition is performed mechanically or manually using specialist hydraulic equipment.

The equipment used in small-scale demolition projects includes cranes, excavators and dozers. As you would expect, buildings are demolished starting from the top, so the roof is the first thing to come down. Depending on how the project manager wants the building to come down, it may be decided that support structure will be knocked out after the roof. If this is the case, the building’s supports will be knocked out and the building will fall down to the ground like a pack of cards (although not quite as neatly).

For small buildings that need to be brought down gently, deconstruction by hand is the norm. This is also necessary where materials will be reused. Deconstruction by hand isn’t a service offered by every demolition company, but it’s something we’ve been doing for over 50 years. It takes skill and a dedicated workforce to do the job.

Large-scale demolition

Large-scale demolition projects are typically defined by their size. Big buildings and structures that are to be brought down always require more planning and work than small buildings. As anyone in the demolition trade will tell you, large-scale demolition is where the fun starts and where professionals make their name.

If you’ve ever seen a video of a high-rise, car park or other structure being brought down, you’ll have seen the main technique used.

Typically, large buildings that need to be brought down in a highly controlled manner are brought down by implosion. Implosion is the fastest and most effective way to bring down a large (and tall) building. This technique involves placing blasting charges on a building’s support structure to knock them out. The blasts are typically setup to happen in sequence but might be setup to detonate at the same time.

Small buildings are never brought down by implosion. It is more cost effective, and easier to clean up, debris brought down mechanically.

Large-scale demolition projects do make use of mechanical demolition, however. Wrecking balls are used up to 5-tonnes to smash through upper layers of a building. They smash up the main structure quickly which allows for an efficient clean up. As the building comes down, one level at a time, other machines come into play. Dozers and excavators can then be brought in to finish the job. It’s all very slick.

Site clearing and crushing in large and small-scale demolition

Site clearing and crushing applies to both large-scale and small-scale demolition.

Site clearing is the process of clearing waste, commercial or otherwise, from a site and disposing of it at local recycling centres. This is necessary pre-demolition.

Crushing is the process of crushing reusable materials, such as concrete, so they can be transported efficiently to a dedicated recycling centre. For example, our crushing services include a 6f2 crusher run for crushing type 1 concrete. Large blocks of concrete are crushed so more material can be transported off site in one go.

It goes without saying that the larger the demolition project, the larger the clean-up operation. Small-scale demolition projects can typically be cleaned up within days with the right workforce and equipment. Large-scale demolition projects can take weeks.

In all cases of clean-up, the environment is a key consideration. We take our environmental responsibility extremely seriously and take all necessary measures to ensure that the local environment, and wildlife, is unaffected by our operations. We work with local authorities and perform surveys to determine the measures that need to be taken. This ensures we do our utmost to protect the local environment, always.

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