Demolish a property

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Demolish or Deconstruct a Property

Addressing an abandoned, vacant or dilapidated property will help improve your neighborhood’s safety and economic viability. Clearing a site that poses a threat can lower costs of maintaining the property and allow for new, useful construction or more greenspace for your community.

While many municipalities are hesitant to get involved in the demolition of vacant and dilapidated buildings, it has been proven to save the taxpayers money. In the City of Huntington’s amended Home Rule Plan, a calculation of the cost benefit of a demolition plan estimates that by spending $2.2 million dollars to demolish 250 structures, the taxpayers would save $437,500 per year. They anticipate that the surrounding property values would increase by $70 million dollars and the resulting income from property taxes would increase by nearly $1 million dollars a year.

Below you will find referrals to contractors specific to your needs. You might also want to check out the WV Housing Development Fund which recently launched the Property Rescue Initiative to allocate $1 million per year in a revolving loan program. 

The West Virginia Code includes sections on demolition. Also visit the WV Department of Environmental Protection for guidelines on asbestos removal and demolition.

Demolition Procedure

roadtoreuseOn the Road to Reuse: Residential Demolition Bid Specification Development [click to download]
This tool from the US EPA is for cities, counties or land banks undertaking large-scale residential demolitions. It identifies the environmentally-sensitive activities associated with demolishing residential buildings, from pre-planning to demolition to site rehabilitation. It offers decision-making information and bid specification language to help local government officials update their bid specification documents. Use of environmentally beneficial demolition practices can benefit neighborhood stabilization strategies and set the stage for vacant lot revitalization.

roadtoreusefactsheetOn the Road to Reuse Fact Sheet [click to download]
This 2-page document highlights how the On the Road to Reuse tool will benefit communities.

Large-Scale Residential Demolition Resource Directory
Click here for lists of demolition best practices, technical assistance contacts and links to additional information on specific regulatory issues from the US EPA.

General demolition process:
Access to the property to check for hazardous material is usually granted by a local ordinance. Search Warrants can be used to access the property to check on code issues and the testing for hazardous materials.

  1. Check for hazardous materials
  2. Contact regulatory agencies if needed
  3. Bid out the abatement and demolition to qualified contractors (separately or together).

For possible funding resources for your demolition project, refer to our demolition resources page.

Deconstruction: A Sustainable Alternative

Instead of taking a bulldozer to a site, some properties can be carefully deconstructed piece by piece in order to reclaim and reuse or donate the building materials, to divert as much as possible from landfills. This is particularly the case with old houses which have quality wood and tile materials that can be valuable to others. The Coalfield Development Corporation based in Wayne, WV is an organization that has successfully deconstructed dilapidated housing structures. Part of their aim is to build and sell furniture from reclaimed building materials. Their efforts have prevented over 175,000 square feet of building material from entering landfills.

DeconRapidAssessToolDeconstruction Rapid Assessment Tool [click to download]
So many blighted structures, so little time. This simple checklist from the US EPA enables organizations to rapidly collect data to make informed decisions on which blighted structures to pursue for deconstruction and salvage. Download the tool or click here for more information.

deconRapidAssessTool-instrInstructions for Deconstruction Rapid Assessment Tool [click to download]
This document explains the benefits of deconstruction and how to use data collected with the above tool.

Some people who qualify based on their income can also apply for a tax-deductible donation for reusing the materials. The donation deduction often offsets the labor costs, which are usually about 5 percent more than what it costs to demolish a building.

Dangers of Asbestos

Understanding the Hazard of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure can cause a number of health problems. The most dangerous is pleural mesothelioma. This cancer is typically caused by one of three types of exposure to asbestos: Occupational exposure, secondary exposure or environmental exposure.

When airborne asbestos fibers are inhaled or swallowed, they can become lodged in the soft tissues of the lungs or abdomen. The body has significant difficulty expelling the fibers, which can trigger more than a dozen health complications, including cancer.

It often takes decades, but asbestos fibers are proven to cause asbestosis, lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma. In total, these asbestos-related illnesses account for approximately 10,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

Don’t begin a remodeling or demolition project until you are sure it won’t disturb asbestos. Unless a product is clearly labeled, there’s no way to tell if it contains asbestos just by looking at it. You may need to hire a professional inspector to collect samples. If a lab test confirms the presence of asbestos, proper abatement procedures should be followed to ensure the safety of everyone in the area.

Asbestos Removal

The DEP offers information and instructions for asbestos removal. Click here to learn more and to download brochures.

Meth Lab Cleanup

This site offers tips on how to determine if a property was used to make meth, explains possible contaminants and effects on health, and offers suggestions for how to clean up former meth labs.

Contractor Referrals

Asbestos and lead contractors
Refer to this list for licensed asbestos contractors, and this list for licensed lead contractors.

Deconstruction contractor
Contact Brandon Dennison at the Coalfield Development Corporation to learn more about options for deconstructing a property.