Pre-Demolition Inspections

A pre-demolition inspection may be one of the most helpful and cost-efficient steps you can take to identify materials that should (or must) be removed from buildings prior to demolition. In some cases it may be required by regulation.

A pre-demolition inspection can help identify environmental issues that need to be addressed immediately or that can be included in demolition bid specifications. If you identify environmental issues in the demolition bid specification, you may receive more accurate bids from entities that are better qualified to manage the environmental responsibilities associated with demolition. This may help you avoid costly changes to contracts after they have been awarded.

If you will be demolishing multiple buildings, pre-demolition inspections may enable you to determine that the size or scope of certain environmental issues is significant enough to consolidate the environmental work and bid it separately from the demolition work. 

  • Doing so may be cheaper because you may attract bidders with the specialized skills needed to handle the environmental issues efficiently and at the lowest cost. 
  • You may also find that consolidating the environmental work saves money because it may allow for consolidated waste management (e.g. accumulating asbestos for a single trip to the landfill rather than hauling it from each building separately). 
  • You may also be able to eliminate the overhead costs that demolition contractors typically include when they subcontract the necessary environmental work.
  • Bidding the environmental work separately may also give you more control than you will have if the demolition contractor subcontracts the environmental work.
A pre-demolition inspection is different
than a pre-bid walk through.
A pre-demolition inspection The pre-bid walk through

provides the owner or operator of the building or demolition project with basic information about

  • the condition of the site and the building at the site,
  • the environmental issues at the site,
  • the size of the building and the building materials that are present
  • other information you'll need in order to make decisions about the types of bids  to seek.

It provides important detailed information about the site that should be used in preparng the request for bids.

By providing prospective bidders with more complete information about a demolition site and the work that you want them to do, you are more likely to get consistent, comparable bids that can be evaluated more easily.

is a chance for prospective bidders to look over the property and determine what they feel they will need to do in order to meet the requirements you spelled out in your solicitation for bids.

It gives prospective bidders an opportunity to give you a more complete bid that more accurately reflects the costs they will incur at the specific site for the work you want done than if they were bidding solely based on documents or photos of a site.  

However, the completeness and accuracy of their bids depends, in part, on what your bid solicitation says you want done at the site.

The pre-demolition inspection can put your organization in a much better position to ensure the work you want done will be done right and at the lowest possible cost.

If a pre-demolition inspection is not done and you receive bids based primarily on what each of the prospective bidders think needs to be done, you may have a much harder time comparing the bids and determining which bid represents the best value for the money being spent.

The pre-demolition inspection gives your agency more input into what will happen at the site versus letting the bidders make that determination.

If you give the prospective bidders no clear boundaries because you have no information from a pre-demolition inspection, you may later find that the work they do is not quite what you expected or wanted. Using a pre-demolition inspection to prepare a detailed solicitation for bids reduces misunderstandings and differences of opinion about what you want bidders to bid on.

You should determine whether your in-house staff is qualified to perform such inspections or if an independent third party will perform the inspections.

In some cases, special licenses or credentials are needed. For example, there are regulations that provide for the accreditation of people involved in various types of asbestos work. (Accreditation is also known as licensing or certification in some states)

The requirement to use an accredited worker may not apply to all municipal demolitions or renovations involving all kinds of residential structures. Consult your local or state agency office that accredits workers for more information. However, it is a good practice to use accredited individuals for all types of work involving asbestos-containing materials.

Start early

three men in safety gear inspect a damaged home

The pre-demolition inspection may be a good time to determine whether you or a contractor will take care of completing government requirements.

You may need to
- submit forms
- obtain permits
- get government approvals
before you can conduct your project.

As some forms call for specific information about the building and demolition project, the pre-demolition inspection may be a good time to gather the necessary information.

Each community, county or state government may have its own requirements. There are deadlines for submitting documents and obtaining approvals, and the process may be lengthy. It's a good idea to determine, as early as possible, what you will need to do. Allow enough time to meet deadlines.

Monitor environmental work

In order to manage liability, control costs, and have control over the work, you should plan to monitor the environmental work that is being done as part of the project. Trained in-house staff or a qualified independent third party should monitor the work. This is not a responsibility of federal, state or local government environmental inspectors.

It may also be helpful to consider reuse and recycling of building materials during the pre-demolition planning process. Effective planning for reuse and recycling may result in reduced disposal costs and diversion of valuable building materials from the landfill.

Some issues to consider:

  • Do your specifications require recycling of certain materials?
  • Do you consider potential revenue from the sale of recyclables when you evaluate bids? (Does revenue from the sale of scrap metal accrue to the demolition contractor or get passed back to the owner?)
  • Will you allow local building material reuse organizations to salvage reusable building components (kitchen cabinets, wood trim, doors, light fixtures, etc.), when appropriate, before buildings are demolished?
  • Will you consider deconstructing, rather than demolishing, the better structures? (Buildings that are structurally sound, have not been damaged by vandals/fire/water, and contain high-quality –new or old – building materials or components may be good candidates for deconstruction.) see Disposal alternatives: deconstruction, reuse and recycling