There is a building beside my office with a sign board

This building is under demolition

And, this is the sign I have been observing since past 6 months (and who knows for coming months or years)! If I read Demolition in progress, keep away OR This building is scheduled for demolition, I had no problem in understanding that.

Facts apart (whether the builders are in processes or whatever), I'm concerned about the language English here.

Can we use the word 'under' for something that is not happening right in front of you? The process is not ON and nobody knows when it'll be. If I say "under 'x'" all of you will certainly take it as it's in progress. We all know...

This road is under construction- you see the road is getting done, you may find people working on this as well
This building is under construction - you see some constructed part or people working on it.

So, in these latter cases, you clearly find evidence of 'X' in Under [X]. but this is not true in case of under demolition.

Also, are they using the word correctly? Demolition or destruction?

  • Perhaps it is okay, considering that we have "Demolition in progress" signs. But 6 months, really! Apr 23, 2014 at 8:26
  • That creates an ambiguity - under demolition or demolition in progress
    – Maulik V
    Apr 23, 2014 at 8:29
  • @DamkerngT. no no... I think you din' get it. The building is intact but just seems scheduled for demolition. The building is evacuated and lying in dust, closed.
    – Maulik V
    Apr 23, 2014 at 8:52
  • 1
    Couldn't it simply be that they did start, and the first thing was to put up the sign - and then the project was delayed or cancelled. Then the only problem is that nobody cared enough to remove or change the sign, but that would be hardly surprising :) I have seen many things "under construction" without any measurable progress for long periods of time, by the way.
    – oerkelens
    Apr 23, 2014 at 9:37
  • 2
    This question appears to be off-topic because it looks like a peeve. Besides, for all we know, the demolition process may have started months ago (perhaps internal parts were removed, leaving the building in an unstable/unsafe state). The rest of the process may have been (intentionally or unexpectedly) delayed for any amount of time. Apr 23, 2014 at 16:13

3 Answers 3


As oerkelens comments, the term under demolition implies 'undergoing the demolition process, including all associated processes', rather than just the literal 'being blown up, right now, at this moment in time'.

In addition to the already supplied reasons for what looks like no demolition activity occcuring (asbestos removal, interior structure being removed etc). It is possible that at the last moment, some protest happened that made them decide to reconsider the demolition. Until this reconsideration has finished, they may find it easier to just leave the sign in place.

With regard to demolition vs destruction. These are similar enough that either would be acceptable, though demolish is more precise. (Googling the definition of the two words shows these common synonyms: knock down, pull down, tear down. Additionally they are synonyms of each other.) Demolished is the more specific of the two as most definitions imply a building being pulled or torn down, whereas destruction is the end of existence of anything but the end result of a demolition is that something has been destroyed.


You are quite right. Signwriters are no better than greengrocers. Rather than seek out the wretch responsible, take a photo of the offending sign and post it on this page at Pinterest.


I keep meaning to post a pic of "This door is alarmed" which I see so often nowadays.

  • 1
    I keep meaning to put a sign on my door saying "This door is shitting itself". I think if you want to get the message across to potential burglars, you gotta use the kind of words they would. Apr 23, 2014 at 16:19
  • This door is somewhat perturbed
    – toandfro
    Apr 24, 2014 at 9:04

First, realize that in that context, a sign at a construction site, the poster is in no way concerned with accuracy or correctness. All they want you to know is that building is coming down, eventually.

Take that phrase specifically and there are some inferences you can make:

  1. This building is under Demolition Order. Meaning a government agency has ordered it's demolition or a demolition permit has been granted.
  2. There may be non-visible demolition work underway inside the building. Asbestos removal for example.
  3. Demolition started, but is delayed now for some reason.

Destruction implies an adverse or undesirable situation and wouldn't be appropriate here.

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