Guidance for Advancing Demolition Project Management in the UK

  • Yazan Osaily

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


It has been repeatedly reported that demolition engineers rely to a significant extent on their past experience to manage demolition projects without the existence of well-established procedures to follow. Due to the ever-increasing complexity of demolition projects, this is no longer a feasible approach. Such complexity includes uncertainty caused by many undocumented conditions, inherent health and safety issues, and dealing with design decisions that mostly neglect any end-of-life considerations. Evidence shows that existing demolition project management guidelines are primitive, and unable to provide guidance on managing such complexity. Additionally, the extant literature on demolition project management is scarce or deficient; if it exists, it is often incomplete, outdated, and lacks demolition engineers’ considerations. Further, the core knowledge of demolition is encompassed in the knowledge and experience of demolition engineers, meaning it is not readily available and tends to disappear when the engineer leaves the profession.
To tackle the above-mentioned problems and to advance demolition project management, the principles of the circular economy were reviewed. It was clear that circularity in recent years, has been widely researched in the built environment, highlighting the essential role of designers and constructors. However, as yet no research has highlighted the role of the demolition industry in the transition, even though demolition contractors are essentially needed to fulfil a closed-loop concept. As dealing with waste is their expertise, their input is significant to this movement.
Consequently, the aim of this study was to advance demolition project management by proposing guidance for clients and demolition contractors to ensure the successful delivery of demolition projects through critical success factors. Since the topic of demolition project management is under researched, and the core knowledge of demolition resides in the minds of the demolition engineers, the methodology implemented to fulfil the aim of this study was of qualitative nature.
The outcome of the study was the development of a three-level guidance for managing demolition projects. The first level of the guidance is an overview of the proposed guidance. The second level provides a clear, structured framework to assist clients and demolition contractors in managing demolition projects. It is composed of various measures to address the current challenges faced by the demolition industry through critical success factors. And the third level of the guidance comprises further details regarding some of the categories highlighted in the second level of the guidance. The guidance was devised using process flow charts, and it engages with six phases: building design consideration, scope definition, procurement, project delivery, site clearance, and completion.
This study creates awareness and broadens the understanding of the many challenges that impede demolition project success beyond the widely reported challenge of waste management. This study shows the need for engagement of demolition professionals throughout the whole of the construction cycle to establish a collaborative way of working. This will allow risk mitigation at demolition stage, based on collaboration at design stages and the consequential impact will be a quicker transition towards a circular built environment.
Date of Award8 Sept 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAlexander Copping (Supervisor) & Stephen Lo (Supervisor)


  • Demolition
  • Circular Economy
  • Critical Success Factors
  • Challenges
  • Demolition Process
  • Guidance
  • Project Management

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