by Mike Laboski, Ontario Specialty Contracting, Inc.

Demolition is perhaps the ultimate outsourced service requested by investment recovery practitioners; but like all outsourcing, turning a project over to outside professionals doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. To help insure that your next project doesn’t blow up on your watch, ASSET 2.0 turned to the Associate Members for some dynamite insight on the demolition process.


Q: What is the number one responsibility of the client to help provide for a good demolition project?

A: As with any type of client/contractor relationship, communication and proper exchange of information is the key to developing rapport and mutual trust. It’s vital for the client to realize that the more information shared, especially in person, the better. This allows the contractor to more effectively prepare for the project and avoid surprises. The information exchange should include a complete understanding of client expectations including:

General Health, Safety & Environmental Program and Policies (HSE), plus project-specific requirements and establishing a clear and consistent means with which to measure project performance. Frequent yet- effective meetings help assure that information remains ‘free-flowing’-even if client or contractor personnel changes. All contractors should be represented at these meetings.

Q: How can a client get better value from a demolition contractor?

A: Keep in mind that it’s not the contractor’s position to decide what is and what is not important, but to provide feedback regarding the client expectations. For example, there are times when client HSE
program and policy requirements and ensuing expectations are somewhat vague and fairly cumbersome to implement, which may not necessarily add value to overall project HSE performance. Again, the key is for all involved to discuss these issues so as to better understand what is required and to assure there are no gaps between expectation and performance. This can often occur with projects that have several different contractors onsite. . . all with different areas of expertise.

Assurance that performance expectations are consistent for each contractor plays an important part in the overall success of a project. Regardless of the reporting hierarchy of the contractors, each has their own project scope and it should include the same client HSE expectations.
Q: What should a company be looking for in selecting a demolition or environmental remediation contractor?

A: It used to be that as long as a company could demonstrate regulatory compliance, they would be considered an approved contractor. Yet both clients and contractors are challenged to reduce the cost of doing business, while hopefully improving overall operations (doing more with less). As a result, clients have to rely on the contractor to demonstrate the ability to work without substantial day-to-day direction. Toward that end, a client should be looking for a contractor that has moved from the traditional, static, compliance-based HSE Program application that typically relies on using lagging indicators (passive/reactive data such as site audits, incident rates, etc.) to measure performance to that of a more dynamic HSE Process ; the development and implementation of an HSE Management System (HSEMS) including regulatory compliance that is integrated with established quality practices (Quality Management System) and focuses on leading indicators and proactive prevention measures.

Q: Is Brownfield redevelopment a viable way to improve the return on investment in an otherwise un-marketable property?
A: Brownfield Sites (legally-real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant) can absolutely be redeveloped, but not without a great deal of due-diligence. Adaptive re-use requires advanced and specialized appraisal analysis techniques, review of case studies, and/or statistical analyses. Normal appraisal methods do not take into effect all these variables, and  have been known to fail-sometime miserably. Brownfield sites can sit idle for decades because the cost of remediation far exceeds the potential value of the property. Other issues to be considered are 3rd party liability, residual stigma and what-if scenarios (underground storage tanks, additional contaminants, etc.) that would add cost to remediation and could ultimately prove too costly.
Q: How does ‘demolition’ differ from ‘remediation’?

A: Traditional demolition is the process of tearing down and disposing of, en masse, structures, buildings, etc. The reasons for demolition could vary—from wanting to reduce tax base by turning a building into a parking lot, to needing to remove the structure to redevelop the area. A new trend in demolition is to incorporate the concept of ‘deconstruction’ into demolition. This ‘green’ approach minimizes materials to be land filled and is considered a more economical means to dispose of demolition waste materials, with some landfill diversion rates in excess of 75%. In the United States, demolition activities are regulated by OSHA. Remediation generally means providing a remedy of sorts and is carried out largely to protect human health or the environment. Environmental remediation is typically completed by removing contaminated or polluted media such as soil, groundwater, surface water, sediment, etc. and frequently takes place at a site earmarked for redevelopment such as a Brownfield site. In the United States, Environmental Remediation is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Q: Who ‘owns’ the ultimate responsibility for safety on a project?
A: Having been on both client and contractor, I find that both are equally responsible. Some might argue that the client should be mostly responsible-and while they may be for the majority of the project information exchange-the contractor should be prepared for whatever issues arise during the project. Completing due diligence, even though it’s from different perspectives, is paramount for both the client and contractor and should start with assuring that their respective HSE processes are effective and up-to-date.
Q: Who gets the ‘Notice of Violation’ if a 10-day application is not met, or a site is determined to not be in compliance?

A: The ‘applicant’ would get the ‘Notice of Violation’ regarding the 10-day application. As far as other non-compliance issues, it would depend on the client/contractor working relationship. We would first have to determine whether or not there is project coordination by the general contractor, prime contractor, or other such entity. If an employer fits one or more of four of the following categories: Exposing, Creating, Correcting, Controlling with respect to not following an OSHA standard, they would be responsible for compliance and would receive the citation. So, in short, everyone and anyone participating on a work-site could be cited for non-compliance to a standard.

Have more questions about demolitions? We’ve got answers at the 2018 Seminar & Trade Show, March 18-21, Orlando, at the Caribe Royale Resort. Make plans to attend,