Demolition work doesn't always mean the complete destruction of a building. Sometimes, parts of buildings may be demolished in order to replace them or expand other parts of the structure. On other occasions, a single wall might be removed to facilitate a building extension. In any of these cases, it's important to be aware of potential hazards.
Of course, demolition is an inherently dangerous job if it's done carelessly, so a certain amount of planning should be undertaken before the process begins. But, in particular, there are hazards you should look out for so you can avoid them and take any necessary precautions once demolition begins.
Take note of any structures, trees, or other objects in the area of the demolition. First of all, you should make sure you're satisfied that they won't come into contact with falling materials during demolition. Secondly, check they won't cause any obstructions to equipment and traffic coming to or from the site.
The dangers of asbestos have been widely publicised, so you're no doubt aware of the importance of discovering it before any work begins. Luckily, this is not as difficult as it sounds. In order to tell for certain, you'll need to get a professional to take samples and check them out, but there are some clues to look out for yourself.
Asbestos was widely used in construction up until about 1980, and still used sometimes until 2000, so any building constructed before then might contain the substance. It's found in all sorts of places, including the outside of water tanks, insulation, guttering, and tiles. Any of these elements that predate 2000 should be checked before demolition work begins. Click here for more information on asbestos reporting.
Even if there's no asbestos, demolition creates a lot of dust as materials are broken down. Make sure there's adequate ventilation in the area of the work, and that it won't cause problems in other buildings. If people park cars in the area, you might want to warn them about potential dust, and neighbours will appreciate a heads-up.
All gas supplies should be disconnected plenty of time before the demolition work. However, it's not enough just to disconnect them and assume everything is okay. Get them inspected by a trained gas expert.
Although less likely to be dangerous than gas or asbestos, you don't want to burst water pipes and cause a flood or fountain. Make sure all water to the building or area to be demolished is cut off and that pipes are empty.