2017 Portland Demolition Trends

2017 Portland Oregon Demolition Trends

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After the economic crash of 2007 and 2008, Oregon and the rest of the nation faced a construction slump for nearly a decade. As confidence in the market began to rise, the number of construction and demolition permits issued in Portland and cities across the state began to increase. Developers aimed to replace older buildings with modern structures that increased residential densities. Leading the way are Oregon demolition contractors who seek to minimize the carbon footprint of the projects they oversee and maximize their safety.

Oregon Demolition Trends

Oregon demolition trends tend to closely follow construction trends. At the time of publication, the City of Portland alone has issued 81 residential demolition permits, finalized 28, and is reviewing 77 more. In 2016, the city issued 390 residential permits, a significant jump from the 290 issued in 2014. The drop in permits issued may stem from recent land-use and zoning plans. However, several months in the year still remain before officials can draw definitive conclusions about Portland’s residential demolition trends. It is important to keep in mind that statistics do not include homes that required Oregon demolition services for remodels.

Some of the most common building trends in Portland are the development of infills and high-density multi-family units. Investors, for example, are purchasing homes, demolishing them, and replacing them with apartments. A standard residential lot can accommodate a five-story building with up to 54 micro-units. Since 2012, Portland has welcomed 22,000 new apartments and more than 30,000 new residents.

As construction cranes dot Portland’s skyline, economists estimate that 240,000 more people will make Portland their home by 2035. The urban market is popular among two of the country’s largest demographics: baby boomers, who are ready to retire in a central location that’s close to their favorite amenities, and millennials, who aren’t ready for the financial commitment that comes with homeownership. Since 2010, five large development companies have invested more than $1 billion in more than 5,000 apartments in the Portland area. With a vacancy rate of about 3 percent, developers can’t build fast enough to keep up with demand.

Environmental Concerns

One of the biggest concerns with construction and demolition contractors seeing record numbers is in regard to the environment. Everything that is demolished, built or remodeled has an environmental impact. Incidentally, demolition services that are the most eco-friendly are getting the most business. Just as it’s possible to building structures with sustainable materials and practices, a demolition company can tear it down with minimal impacts to the planet and community.

One way to do this is by using deconstruction techniques, which the City of Portland calls for when removing certain older homes, particularly those built before 1916. The city’s newer deconstruction-related ordinance comes out of concerns about the presence of lead paint, asbestos and other toxins often found in older homes. Deconstruction is the process of tearing down a building by hand instead of mechanical means. The practice reduces the public’s exposure to hazardous elements, as traditional demolition methods may create harmful dust. Only about 10 percent of Portland homes were deconstructed before the city issued the ordinance. After it went into effect, about 33 percent of single-family demolition projects were affected.

While the ordinance means that it will take more time to remove a home from a lot, it’s good news for the environment, those who live and work near Oregon demolition sites, and project managers who want to maximize their salvage and recycling opportunities. A 2,500-square-foot home has at least 25 tons of debris and waste. When specialists remove fixtures and other building materials by hand, up to 80 percent of the items can be reused, recycled, donated or resold. This translates into diverting up to 8 million pounds of reusable construction and demolition materials from landfills every year, which helps save money. Oregon demolition contractors that specialize in asset recovery often help clients resell materials, such as scrap metal and crushed concrete, which offsets project costs.

The best demolition companies to use for Portland projects are those with Environmental Protection Agency-issued lead certifications, like Elder Demolition. These contractors have comprehensive plans to identify and safely remove toxins and salvageable materials at sites. If they find toxins, they work with environmental engineering firms or a similar type of company because they possess the expertise and certifications to test sites and perform cleanups. Even if a building does not have toxins in it, a green demolition contractor still takes several steps to ensure the health and safety of community surrounding a project site. Green demolition techniques can also help a project earn LEED credits and meet some of the standards required for green building certifications.

Materials that Oregon demolition services can salvage to resell, reuse, recycle or donate include:

  • Concrete
  • Beams
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Bricks
  • Pipes and plumbing fixtures
  • Wiring and electrical components
  • Sinks
  • Rebar and other types of scrap metal

When items are too large or heavy to remove by hand, contractors use specialized equipment that assists with the process. High-reach excavators with different attachments make it simple to remove components from the tallest buildings. Concrete crushers break down large pieces of concrete into smaller chunks that a client may reuse on-site for a variety of applications.

With the number of construction projects reaching record levels, savvy developers look to demolition contractors to prepare Portland lots. Request a free project estimate today from Elder to learn more about how our green approach promotes sustainability.

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