Bidding on Demo Work: What to Consider

Bidding on Demo Work: What to Consider

Sure, you want a building to stand up when you’re the one doing the building, but when you’re tasked with cleaning up one that’s needing to come down, there’s a lot more to it than simply tossing bits in a trash can.  Are you thinking about bidding on some demo work?

Your Pre-Demo Bidding Checklist

If you’ve never bid a demo job before, it can feel pretty overwhelming, but it’s not nearly as big of a planning job as it might seem.  The most important thing is to make sure that your costs are adequately covered so you can bring in the experts you need as the planned destruction gets underway.

Here are a few things to consider before getting started:

Commercial or residential?

Both commercial and residential properties will need to be torn down from time to time.  However, there are different approaches for each, especially if an attached building must be preserved.  Check out the local rules on each type, they’re not always the same.

Are there environmental hazards?

Things like asbestos, lead-based paint, septic tanks, wells and contamination from chemicals from properties like old gas stations and places where drugs have been manufactured can required special experts to either supervise or do portions of the removal for everyone’s safety.  If you suspect any type of environmental hazards, have someone out to take a look and figure that into the removal cost.  It’s a pretty safe bet that lead-based paint is present if you’re dealing with a building constructed before 1978, at minimum.

Utilities and disconnects?

Make sure your contracts explain exactly who should be in charge of turning off the utilities and who to contact in case of an emergency.  Buried lines can still be a major consideration, depending on how they’re laid out, so make sure to have them all marked as a precaution.

How many hours will it take?

You’re probably not planning enough. There are always weird things that come up during a demo.  Add about 20 percent to your hours estimate to account for the unplanned.

How will you handle filling the site?

Depending on what you’re removing, the local laws and the reason for the demo, you probably have site fill options.  Look at each one individually, since, for example, it would cost a lot less to drop a building into its own basement, then add a little backfill and seed and straw for a reclaimed park, for example, than to dismantle a structure, remove the foundation, grade the site and seed it for future redevelopment.

What’s your plan for hauling?

Demo work has a lot of rules that go with it, but one area where you have a lot of options is hauling.  Do you use your own vehicle for regular construction debris?  If so, do you invest in a dump bed or dump trailer?  Roll away dumpsters can also be handy since you don’t have to deal with the garbage and instead just fill the box up and call for disposal.

Other options to consider might include selling the best bits to a salvage dealer if time allows.  After all, it’s not just less waste you have to pay to add to a landfill, but another stream of income.

Do you have any hints or tips for other contractors looking to break into demo work?  What did you learn on the job that you wish you had known before you got started?  Tell us in the comments!

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