Similarities and Differences Between Residential and Commercial Demolition

According to Merriam-Webster, demolition is the act of demolishing, which in turn means “to tear down, raze” or “destroy.” In the field of construction, demolition means destroying, dismantling, razing, or wrecking any part or the entirety of a structure, no matter its size.

There are various ways that demolition can be approached, which include using hand tools for minor jobs and large machinery like wrecking balls for taking down buildings.

Why You Need a Professional for Your Demolition Needs

Demolition work, whether residential or commercial, involves plenty of hazards. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • high volume of dust
  • flying and falling debris
  • noise and vibrations, especially when explosives are used
  • extreme heat
  • collapsing structures
  • working at heights
  • risk of tripping and slipping
  • hazardous substances (e.g., asbestos)

Aside from the above-mentioned, demolishers also have to think about other structures and assets that surround the building (or part of the building) to be demolished so that nothing is damaged unintended.

In short, working with professionals who have undergone proper construction and demolition training is necessary if you don’t want to risk damaging property and sustaining injuries. This is also the best course of action to attain the results you want, especially since some materials are harder to demolish than others.

You may also need to work with a specific demolisher depending on the property. Not all demolishers are licenced or well-equipped to take down high-rise and special buildings, for example, so you need to find someone that can handle your demolition requirements safely and efficiently.

Residential and Commercial Demolition

In general, there are two types of demolition: residential and commercial.

Residential demolition

Residential demolition is the partial or complete removal of any structure on a residential property. This can be done for a variety of purposes. For example, an old house can be removed to build a new one or a shed can be torn down to make room for a garden.

Some of the things that professionals can demolish in residential properties include decks, garages, gazebos, pergolas, pools, and verandas.

Do note that residential demolition can also mean that the main foundations are left intact while the interiors are stripped down and bare. This is usually done so that the exterior remains the same but the interior rooms can be expanded or re-laid out.

Commercial demolition

On the other hand, a commercial site demolition project is the partial or complete removal of commercial or public structures such as hotels, office buildings, and similar properties. It’s often more dangerous than residential demolition, especially since older structures often contain asbestos. This means that demolishers aren’t the only professionals that must be involved in commercial demolition, but also licenced asbestos removers.

Extra safety precautions should also be taken during commercial demolition, particularly skyscrapers, due to the usage of larger machinery or even explosives that can affect the surroundings. Mechanical excavators may be a better option, although it can also cause soil collapse and other unintended consequences.

Things to Remember When Undertaking Demolition Works

While it might feel like demolition is a rare occurrence, it’s actually a common construction procedure. Remember: even removing a home’s carport can count as a demolition project. You should also consider that most skyscrapers only last for about 40 years. Depending on the structural integrity, building codes, and other factors, these structures may need to be demolished sooner rather than later.

That said, here are some key things to remember when undertaking demolition works:

The bigger the building, the more expensive it gets

From the amount of labour to the machinery and supplies required, demolishing a larger structure will simply cost more than taking down a smaller building. Many commercial establishments may also have construction materials (e.g., asbestos) that need specialised handling, which can further drive up the cost.

Fall protection is important

Demolishing any building of any size requires fall protection. Open roofs and excavation pits are common in demolition sites and can cause serious injuries or even death. Safety harnesses and hard hats are the minimum recommended safety gear; when working more than 2 metres above the ground or working around a pit with a fall of more than 2 metres, full-body restraints are generally required.

Don’t forget about recycling

Tearing down a structure generates a lot of junk and debris, making waste management crucial to any demolition work. This fact also makes recycling an important consideration when demolishing homes and commercial buildings.

Some of the materials that can be recycled from demolition works include:

  • This can be crushed into gravel, serving as aggregate for future construction projects. Larger chunks of concrete can also be used in residential projects such as in landscaping gardens.
  • Recycling steel usually involves separating it from other materials and contaminants, then crushing it into bales. These will then be melted and processed into new steel for use in appliances, car bodies, and steel packaging, among other applications.
  • Toilets and other porcelain materials. If the toilets, sinks, and other similar fixtures from the structure are still in good shape, then they can be reused. Otherwise, they can be sent to the correct facility so that they can be recycled or disposed of the right way.
  • Wood frames, doors, and beams. Like toilets and sinks, fixtures such as wooden doors and posts can be reused (especially for residential projects). Depending on their condition, they can also be sold, recycled, or donated.


At the end of the day, demolition is a straightforward job in that its ultimate goal is to clear existing structures to make way for new ones. The similarities are easy enough to understand; the most important things to remember are the differences, so that you can prepare accordingly.


CC Training Academy offers courses in demolition (RPL, AQF).