FAQ Getting to Know the Oregon Demolition Industry

Portland Commercial DemolitionOregon demolition contractors support growth in our state by clearing the way for new structures. The men and women in this field specialize in the removal of buildings and structures. This work requires many specialized skills, such as the safe removal of hazardous materials, environmental cleanup, and the salvaging of old building materials. Demolition companies employ engineers, chemists, construction workers, and others to work as teams on demolition projects.

Taking down a building is much more complex than just swinging a wrecking ball. Today’s demolition workers must rely on building sciences to safely take down buildings. Sometimes implosion explosives are used, but this is rare. Today, it is more common to “strip” any usable fixtures and finishes, and then tear down walls with excavators. This allows building materials to be categorized and salvaged.

As the Oregon construction market rebounds, so does the demolition industry. The recession was tough for demolition contractors, who had to undercut each other to win the few contracts that were available. Now, as construction picks up, demolition contractors will find an increase in available projects, and the demolition “price wars” will abate.

As Oregon demolition companies take on new projects, they’re probably using these pieces of heavy-duty equipment to dismantle buildings and recycle materials:

  • High reach excavators, capable of reaching multiple stories into the sky, to tear down structures with precision. These construction marvels include various attachments for cutting through and collecting building rubble.
  • Concrete crushers, for transforming concrete chunks into fill for plumbing beds, road construction, etc.
  • Front-end loaders, excavators, skid-steer loaders, and other equipment for moving dismantled building materials.
  • Semi-trucks to carry recyclable materials from the demolition job site to the salvage yard.

Because demolition contractors may encounter dangerous building elements such as asbestos, they also use personal protective equipment to guard against health problems. HAZMAT suits, respiratory devices, and other specialized protection technology may be used while detecting, removing, and disposing of hazardous materials.

While Oregon-specific numbers are not available, we can say that nationwide, there are over 3,500 demolition firms employing over 27,000 individuals.

An interesting development in the demolition world is the movement toward deconstruction. Some demolition firms are specializing in the piece-by-piece removal of building materials, so that they may be almost totally re-purposed or recycled.

You can bet that Oregon demolition contractors will lead the charge toward ever-greener demolition practices. Here at Elder Demolition, we do our part by recycling as much as possible from our projects. This not only helps the environment—it also pleases our clients, who see their demolition costs offset by salvage sales. Up to 95% of construction materials may be recycled.

What does the future hold for demolition in Oregon? We anticipate a “cradle to cradle” approach on the horizon, as contractors and architects work with building scientists and demolition contractors to design buildings with end of life processes in mind. Materials such as wood will be chosen for their recyclability. Designers will create homes that can be easily taken down and re-purposed. Demolition contractors will contribute valuable knowledge on how to build deconstruction-friendly structures.

Regardless of whether our predictions come true, one thing is certain: the Oregon demolition industry will be front and center of the state’s future development.

[photo by: Draco2008 on Flickr via CC License]

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