Looking to demolish something in Cornwall? Here’s some helpful advice!

The demolition of a residential home is a difficult task and it can certainly be daunting when wanting to tackle your project head on. This article will explore many factors that you should take into consideration with the management of a demolition task; from the vitality of health and safety to the ins and outs of waste removal.

By the end, you will soon be on your way to securing vital knowledge and understanding into how to further your adventure with the demolition of your property.

Hiring the best team

Qualifications are key

The most important factor within the management and planning of demolishing your home is hiring a highly trained team of people. The process and management of demolition is constantly adapting within the construction industry therefore it’s essential to have on board the best team you can possibly have. Focus upon finding a company that is committed to supplying a service with the best codes of practice and regularly updated training. Seek operatives who have a qualification with a minimum of CSCS up to SMSTs and NVQs, this will assure you that the job will be completed with sound industry knowledge alongside that vital experience you’ve been searching for.

Experience speaks volumes

Prior to choosing contractors who are qualified in conducting demolition projects, it is important to be aware of additional factors such as previous experience. It may be useful to obtain references and gain an understanding of the company’s previous work; this will provide you with insight into how the contractor deals with elements such as complaints and their ability to problem solve. With this information you will be confident that the demolition process will be conducted professionally and efficiently.

Being local is being reliable

Another key factor to take into consideration is the benefits of hiring contractors who are familiar with local conditions. Contractors who have experience within your local area will be accustomed to local building practices, alongside the use of building materials and commonly used local requirements. With the employment of a reliable and professional team, this means your mind will be put at ease knowing that the process of demolition is in trusted hands.

Planning permission and time scales

The demolition of a building is not classed as ‘development’ therefore planning permission is generally not needed. Despite this, you should notify the council as they may wish to agree the details of how you intend to carry out the demolition and how you propose to restore it afterwards. In regards of time scales within demolition, this is dependent upon the complexity and scale of the work in question. With the demolition of semi or terraced homes, this would typically take four to eight days, however with complications such as the discovery of asbestos, this could further complications and increase time scales.

Within rural areas such as Cornwall, it is likely you will need a wildlife survey conducted by an ecological consultant which can be requested by the local planning authority. This could be a further factor that could create additional time scales within your project, this is also necessary for the pre-application process for replacement dwelling. If wildlife such as bats, or barn owls are found, a further report would be needed by a specialist which will prevent the proceedings of the demolition. The specialist will recommend a time of year that demolition work can take place, this will ensure the protection of wildlife and may result in alternative habitats to be considered. As a result of this, it is important to understand that the process of demolition can be a lengthy process and there are many of factors to take into consideration when it comes to the scale of the project and the implications involved.

Utility services

A fundamental factor when considering the demolition of a home is the management of utility services. Firstly, it is essential to locate all utilities within the premises alongside ensuring they are disconnected and capped. Once located, make sure that all utility and public departments are aware of any interruption or disruption in regards to utilities during the demolition of your home. During the process, it is vital that utilities are protected including sewer, water, gas, electric. With the unfortunate event that any utilities are damaged within the process of demolition, you must make certain that the utility owner is informed and appropriate action is taken. Generally, existing service connection to electricity, mains water, sewerage and connection to the highway can be reused and can save you money compared to starting from an organic plot.

Local residents need protecting

It must be in the contractor’s best interest to inform local residents of the plans and process management of the demolition of your home. Local residents can be affected in many ways when a demolition is in progress. For example, the impact of noise, vibration and dust can have a negative effect on residents and even passers-by. It is important that you supply the public with a contact telephone and appropriate information which will allow them to have the opportunity to discuss complaints and emergencies to the contractor – we all want happy neighbours!

Health and Safety

Health and safety is an extremely crucial factor with the demolition of any home. Demolition can be considered as one of the most dangerous activities therefore it is essential to follow an efficient health and safety management strategy. Health and safety measures need to be validated within initial development of demolition plans. There are many factors to consider such as; communication, education, qualification, design, planning and management. As a client it is your responsibility to ensure that the supervision of the contracts setting, time scales and budgets for the demolition process is clear to ensure that you take the appropriate precautions for present and future events.

Hazardous substances: asbestos

Prior to construction it is important to apply for a demolition survey, this can be conducted through a surveyor. This investigates the management of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and is vital with following health and safety measures. Asbestos is a health and safety hazard, it can be found in many buildings that were built before the year 2000 and is the cause of 5000 deaths annually. The purpose of conducting a survey is to ensure that the premises is suitable for reoccupation after the survey; therefore, it is practical to employ a surveyor who has relevant training and experience alongside a quality management system. The surveyor will need access to the site management, building plans, building specification and any history of asbestos. The results of the report will discuss the location and the extent of the asbestos containing materials and debris with an explanation of any harmful elements. If you become aware of signs of asbestos, the demolition process should be stopped immediately until the material is investigated and the action is safe to carry on. Various contractors will supply the availability of surveying and sampling for the removal of asbestos and that’s always an advantage!


The exposure of heights within this area of construction is a significant health and safety hazard. It is critical to create methods that achieve a safe environment and management system to ensure all team members are working safely at heights and limited to danger. Another factor to consider is that the contractor has responsibility to work in the premises in a safely manner with the use of relevant equipment to perform the required duty.

Flammable materials and gases

With the continued focus upon health and safety; flammable materials and gases are also an extreme hazard which should be monitored regularly. If the location is in contact with flammable materials, it must be observed to ensure that fire or explosion is avoided at all costs. This can be conducted through a managed analyst to identify, monitor and access whether contaminations still remain. Also be certain that there is a reliable and efficient fire plan which consists of an up to date management system, available escape routes and a dependable method to raise the alarm. Your contractor should enable strict safety measures throughout the process of the demolition process; for example, waste disposal that is combustible cannot be gathered within building. In addition, dangerous materials such as items subject to spontaneous ignition must be stored appropriately until they can be removed at the end of the shift or when possible.

Keeping it green

In today’s society, we need to be more aware of the protection of the environment therefore it is key to seek a contractor with experience in conducting environmentally friendly projects. Look for contractors with experience in utilising the correct sized machinery and waste transfer vehicles, this will ensure that there is less pollution being released from the demolition stages. Also be aware of contractors who reveal a strong recycling ethic with the use of crushing materials for refuse and reclaiming products for resale and reuse.

As previously stated, residents and local passers-by are extremely significant when it comes to health and safety. It should be in the contractor’s best interest to protect local residents and businesses from environmental disturbances such as pollution and noise disturbances. All construction should be conducted with consideration of the local community, always be aware of passers-by and ensure the protection of local buildings from physical damage which can be harmed through factors such as vibrations.

The contractor should always act in accordance with with the provisions of:

  • The Control of Pollution Act 1974 Part IV
  • The Environmental Protection Act 1990
  • The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
  • The Clean Air Act 1993


Removal of materials and debris

It is crucial that the removal of materials such as waste, trash and debris is removed in a safe and acceptable manner. All removal duties must comply with the applicable laws and regulations as arranged by the authorities. For example, it is not acceptable to bury or burn trash on the site of your home and it is important that the removal of materials is removed at frequent intervals to avoid hazards. All of the removed materials will become the property of the contractor and shall be removed from the property and disposed of in a legal manner. Within the duration of the demolition, the premises should be clean and organised at all times therefore the contractor should manage that the removal of dust, dirt and debris will be returned back to the existed condition beforehand. This reinstatement ensures a safe environment alongside one less job for you to worry about!

Emergency responses

In the most harrowing of times and when reactive professionalism is paramount, it is important to work with a contractor with previous experience of emergency responses. Having a contractor who can assist in understanding and sensitivity from all emergencies from fire to floods, will make this a much easier process. Many contractors will assist with insurance companies to make things easier in times of trouble.

It is clear that demolition is an epic task, however it doesn’t need to be a burden. Finding a highly efficient contractor with sound knowledge, environmental consideration and emotional support is crucial in building a team of people to manage the demolition of your home in the best way possible.

Active Groundworks understands completely how challenging this task is; we are here to provide support and advice for those who are wanting to take the next step in demolition – so please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Telephone: 01872 274178

E-mail: activegroundwork@aol.com












Please note, that this article is supplied in good faith as a guide, and although we have made substantial efforts to ensure all the information included is accurate, Active Groundworks cannot be held responsible for any of the information provided.