This category covers special contractors that primarily wreck and demolish buildings and other structures, except marine property. They may or may not sell material salvaged from demolition sites. Businesses that do marine wrecking are in SIC 4499: Water Transportation Services, Not Elsewhere Classified.
Wrecking and Demolition Contractors
Despite opposite objectives, wrecking firms are grouped in the larger trade construction industry. This is due to the similar physical and economic nature of demolition and construction work; they use many of the same tools, and the former activity often precedes the latter.
The wrecking and demolition industry is grouped into two sections: building and non-building demolition. The first category demolishes houses, commercial establishments, and office buildings, while the latter removes highways, streets, and other non-inhabitable construction projects. Companies in the industry may specialize in a specific type of wrecking and demolition. For example, some firms concentrate on demolishing small single-family homes.
According to the National Demolition Association, roughly 1,000 firms operate in this industry. These companies employ nearly 19,000 workers and secure more than $3.5 billion in sales. Many of these firms are small, family-owned companies that have been in business for a generation or two. General contractors do about 20 percent of all demolition work.
Before the 1930s, buildings were usually demolished by hand tools, which could take many months for an average-sized building. Newer building techniques developed in the early twentieth century gave rise to larger, sturdier buildings. This development, coupled with methods developed in post-World War II Britain to clear building debris, brought new demolition techniques. Because so much of London had been bombed, civilian and army units were mobilized to help clear the destroyed buildings. The need to clear large sections of rubble and debris eventually led to quicker and more large-scale building removal techniques.
Another effect of World War II on the wrecking industry was a U.S. construction boom in the prosperous years afterward. The returning troops, a population shift away from urban and industrial areas, and a baby boom led to severe housing shortages in many parts of the country. It also was necessary to clear older sections of cities to make room for new...