by Bill Moore, Brandenburg Industrial Service Co. and Mike Laboski, Ontario Specialty Contracting
Demolition financial decision-making comes down to two main questions: “What do I want done?” and “How much is it going to cost?” Rough answers to the second question are from $0-$2/sq. ft. for steel all the way up to $10-$30/sq. ft. for asbestos-containing material (ACM). To help control those costs, properly prepared bid specifications are key.
Architects know little about demolition and engineers can be expensive. So often the best approach is to have a qualified demo contractor (such as a member of the Investment Recovery and National Demolition Associations!) give a “budget” estimate or “order of magnitude.” They are most likely to have money-saving ideas and can write (or help write) the bid specs on a no fee/no obligation, straight fee, “last look” or refundable fee basis.
Use an AIA 305 Pre-Qualification Form, which provides a comprehensive apples-toapples comparison. (Many contractors have this online.) Request references from jobs that are similar in scope to your project. The bid walk can be one-on-one or with all bidders at one time. Ask for specific money-saving options on such things as concrete slabs and foundations, crushing concrete on site, etc. Make sure you understand the items the demo contractor will need from you such as blueprints and info on storage tanks.
Other issues to review with the demo contractor include working hours, payment schedules, revenue sharing and retention agreements, liens, salvage and recycling. Write down your conversations, and use written change orders and confirmations. Use cameras with date imprints.

Heath, Safety and Environmental Management (HSE) Demolition involves serious regulatory and legal issues that can have significant direct and indirect costs including fines, higher insurance premiums, lawsuits and repair of damages to hugely expensive environmental cleanup. By focusing on effective HSE management, accidents, incidents and their subsequent financial and social costs can be avoided. It is important to discuss site-specific health, safety and environmental issues with the demo contractor and perform proper due diligence in the post-bid award stage. Being “compliant” is simply not good enough any longer.

Reprinted from ASSET 2.0, the Investment Recovery Business Journal, Vol. 2, 2009

© The Investment Recovery Association