What plant machinery is needed to demolish a building?


As much as you may believe buildings are robust structures, they always come with a ‘structural lifespan’. After this a building could become unsafe when used for commercial purposes or by an individual. In these cases, it’s quite common for a construction team to be called in to demolish the building. But what is involved in demolishing a building and what plant machinery might you need?

What is involved in demolishing a building?

The demolition of any structure is not just about mindlessly tearing it to the ground. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Anyone looking to start a demolition project should evaluate the safest and easiest way to demolish it for themselves, other members of the public and the surrounding environment. You might also be cautious of how best to conserve useful materials while demolishing a building.

Demolishing smaller structures, including houses and commercial buildings with three storeys or less, is often rather easy. Whereas, demolishing larger structures can be more difficult. These projects can also potentially result in more damage to the environment and nearby buildings. 

What plant machinery might I need?

Before agreeing to a demolition project, you should consider what plant machinery you might need to carry out the job. Usually a variation of plant machinery will be used however, most commonly used is the wrecking ball. And no, we don’t mean the hit Miley Cyrus song! A wrecking ball is an extremely heavy steel ball which is usually hung from a crane. 

Other plant machinery used includes excavators and bulldozers. Depending on the size of the project, you may want to opt for a long reach excavator.

I’ve got my plant machinery, now what?

Once you’ve stocked up on appropriate machinery, it’s a good idea to investigate what you’re dealing with. We would recommend performing a survey to understand the building further. Figuring out why and when a structure was built can often identify some of the key weak spots that will allow it to fall easier.

Consciously surveying the site should also give you information on how best to demolish the building. For example, how you go about the demolition will be different when completing a demolition in a big city with lots of nearby buildings compared to in the open countryside.

Another key thing to consider before demolishing any building, is the chance of dangerous or harmful substances. In any building there could be substances that could cause harm to construction workers or the public, such as asbestos. All of these substances should be considered before the demolition begins.

Prepping a building for demolition

Demolition of a building is always a reckless process that involves tearing the building down and disregarding the damaged materials and sorting through the potentially useful materials. Due to this, making the building ready for this can take some time.

The first thing you should do is remove both useful and harmful materials from the building. If there are any materials or structures that could be reused or are valuable, these should all be removed so they do not get damaged. Likewise, any hazardous materials should be removed or blocked before the process is started.

Tearing a building down requires the wastewater systems to be brought down in the most convenient way. This is to avoid leaks or flooding to the local area during the demolition. Similarly, all electric lines in the area should be disconnected to avoid instances of short-circuiting or interference with the grid system. 


Anyone taking part in the demolition process should always ensure they are safe from the potential risks. Demolition projects can involve many hazards, including objects falling from great heights, use of explosives and exposure to dangerous materials. In recent years, there were around 61,000 non-fatal injuries to workers, and 40 fatal injuries in 2019/2020. With the correct safety PPE and guidance in place, these can be avoided!

There are a few simple things workers can do to stay safe while working on these kinds of projects. Firstly, anyone entering the site should make sure they are wearing protective gear to keep them safe from accidents. 

The most important safety measure in any demolition project is maintaining a suitable distance from the building you are demolishing. However you are deciding to demolish the building, workers should ensure they are able to demolish the structure while maintaining their safety.

For example, when using plant machinery like excavators, workers should make sure they are securely seated inside the machine cab at all times. Likewise, workers not using machines should try to stay at least double the height of the building away.


Well there you have it! Now you know all there is to know about demolishing buildings. Remember, we stock used plant machinery that comes with low hours, a warranty and worldwide delivery! You can view all of our available machines here.

Contact the team at International Plant Sales today to get a quote for any of our used construction machinery.


Information correct as of 01/11/21

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