Older buildings often come with additional charms. For one client, their heritage building included a basement safe with 600mm thick concrete reinforced walls, floor and ceiling. So what do you do? This was the challenge put to Northcroft with one important condition – the solution must be financially sound.

When a client purchased an old building which was previous the HQ for an insurance company, they knew the basement contained a large safe with 600mm thick reinforced concrete walls, floor and ceiling all around. So what do you do with a basement safe of this size – ignore it and lose valuable rental space? Or remove it?

Fortunately for the client, Northcroft has considerable experience in removing safes and this expertise was put to the test with this project.


Limited access meant the task was challenging

Being a heritage building, access to the basement was limited to a single 15 person-sized lift and 2 sets of fire stairs. That meant an excavator couldn’t be used. Water demolition was also out of the question for 2 reasons – the size of the equipment and lack of drainage for the water. Jack hammers couldn’t be used either because of noise and vibration issues in an occupied office building.

The builder responsible for refurbishing the building suggested using hydraulic jacks to hold the 600 thick concrete roof in place while the concrete walls were cut by hand and removed piece by piece. Once the walls were removed, the concrete roof would then be lowered by the hydraulic jacks. This would then allow the reinforced concrete roof then be sawcut by hand on the ground and removed piece to piece.

The quote for this approach was $680,000 and would take months of night work.

Northcroft looked around for another option and found a highly specialised robot technology that’s powered by electricity and is specifically designed for indoor confined spaces.

The robot itself is only 860mm wide so it fits through a standard doorway. With a winch attached on one end, the robot can travel up and down standard fire stairs by the demolition team and placed into position for the demolition.

A conveyor belt system was installed along the fire stairs to remove and load the broken pieces of concrete up to street level and loaded onto trucks for removal overnight.

Two robots were used to demolish the safe as quickly as possible. The entire cost of this method was only $240,000.


What was the ROI for the client to remove the safe?

Removing the safe gave the client another 150m2 of nett lettable space. In other words, the cost of removing the safe would be recovered in less than 2 years.

That’s the difference when obtaining advice from experienced quantity surveyors like Northcroft.

They don’t simply look for the most obvious solution or the cheapest quote. Instead, they carefully examine all options to obtain a substantial investment benefit for their clients.

Are you considering a similar project?  Get In touch.