Engineers are involved when a building is being built, but are they needed to tear a building down? Well, the simple answer is, yes. Federal law requires that a qualified engineer inspects the building before any demolition permits can be issued.
The engineers are looking at the condition of the walls, floors, and ceilings to see what method of demolition would be most suitable and safe. The goal is to note any problematic areas and avoid an unplanned collapse when demolition has started. Nearby structures will also be assessed if the engineer thinks there is a risk the occupants of those structures might be affected by the demolition.
If a fault that poses a risk is found in the building, such as a deficient wall or active gas line, appropriate actions need to be taken before permits can be issued. The inspection might also discover dangerous materials in the building, like mold or asbestos. When this happens, the demolition contractor and engineer must work together to create a plan that will safely remove these risks.
According to OSHA rules, the inspection must be completed by someone, “who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, which are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” There’s no official test, degree, or certification for this process, but it’s best left to someone with lots of demolition experience.
There also isn’t a set way this survey is documented, but it is required that these inspections are documented with a great amount of detail. Since no work can start until this is completed, it’s best if this survey is done as soon as possible.