When you think of demolition, the razing, destruction, or wrecking of any building or structure, you think of falling debris and cranes with wrecking balls.
As much as it sounds simple, demolishing a house can be as costly as building one. Depending on a few factors like the size, age, location, extent of demolition, manpower, and potential hazards, the price could be as low as $200 or as high as $25,000. The typical range, however, is between $3,000 and $25,000.
So, drop the sledgehammer and strap in as we answer the common question How Much Does it Cost to Demolish a House?
Why should you demolish your house?
The cost of demolishing your house largely depends on the reason you are taking it down in the first place.
Many reasons could lead to the sudden decision to tear down your house. Of course, this depends on the extent of demolition:
This is where the whole house is brought down, leaving no trace of it after the site is cleared. Sometimes, explosives may be used to aid in collapsing the pillars holding the house together.
If you opt for total demolition, more planning and professional aid are required. This raises the total cost, but here are a few reasons why most people completely demolish their houses:
- To increase the property’s value: This is to allow for newer structures to allow for expansion of the property.
- For renovation: Sometimes renovation is more expensive compared to building a new structure. This is common in old buildings where the materials are no longer available on the market. An owner who loves the neighborhood but not the house could find it better to demolish the house.
- An infestation: old houses may be infested with rats or termites, which have done more damage to the house than it is cheap to fix.
- To remove toxic substances: Most abandoned houses or old houses have a buildup of toxic substances like mercury and lead. This calls for partial or total demolition of the structure.
- Selling a vacant lot: Land buyers in the market opt for land with no structures to avoid the extra cost of demolition.
- Damage from natural disasters: Natural disasters such as flooding or fire can cause a house to be completely demolished
This is where selected parts of the house are demolished. Most of the time, selective demolition incurs little cost and can be done by the homeowner.
This method is environmentally friendly as most materials are recycled. These are some of the reasons why most houses are partially demolished.
- Renovation: A part of the house, like the kitchen or living room, can be demolished for improvement. This can be as a result of an increase in the number of house residents or a general new look.
- Infestation: the kitchen ceiling could be full of rats that give the owners endless unrest. Termites could also cause damage to untreated timber used in construction.
- A weakened foundation: A weakened foundation from weather, vegetation, or pests may force the home to be reconstructed, keeping the exterior intact.
A homeowner might resort to the deconstruction of the house. This is to preserve materials that can be used to rebuild or rare materials like wood.
Deconstruction can be an expensive approach in terms of labor, as it requires many hands. It can also be a cheaper alternative if done by the owner.
How Much Does it Cost to Demolish a House: Factors influencing demolition costs
When determining the answer to the question, how much does it cost to demolish a house, there are several factors that must be considered. The demolition price range for every house varies, even though they might be of the same architectural plan.
The approach to taking down the house largely impacts the final price range;
It is also known as the “green approach” as most materials are recycled. It ranges from $10,000 or less to $50,000 or more.
This may require professional help. The price range is between $1,000 and $20,000.
This calls for multiple professionals and possibly a construction company. The cost is anywhere between $7,500 and $15,000.
- Proximity to the dumpsite
When structures are demolished, the products could cause environmental and health hazards if not disposed of properly. These need to be disposed of at a dumpsite for recycling or to be reused.
The construction company might offer the package, including the dumping fees. This price ranges from $300-$1800. Alternatively, you can hire a debris removal service at an average cost of around $400 to $800 for every truckload of material.
Houses in rural areas are cheap to demolish compared to houses in urban areas. The average labor costs, transport fees, and service fees are lower in rural areas.
The trend in cost in a specific area is a big factor in hiring professional services to demolish a house, which is something you cannot control.
Larger houses have more materials to take down. They also come with accessories like a deck, a chimney, or a swimming pool. This calls for more planning, time, and labor put into demolishing the structure.
According to Home Advisor, the average cost of demolishing a house per square foot ranges from $4 to $15.
According to bobvilla.com, a house with a basement also adds an extra $5000 to the cost of the project.
Smaller houses also call for smaller machinery if needed compared to larger houses.
Different machines use different power inputs like electricity or diesel. These have a minor impact on the overall budget.
The cost of using or hiring such machinery varies with the method of demolition chosen.
The method of material disposal depends on the type of waste. Cement contributes to 8% of global CO2 emissions. Some of the materials can be hazardous, like lead, asbestos, and mercury, and require professional help.
Labour counts for a huge part of the demolition project. Labor costs are high in urban areas where the demand for professional help is high.
You can cut down on labor costs by employing more machinery, but this will also be expensive in terms of operator fees and maintenance.
In the case of deconstruction, labor is highly required, adding up to the total cost needed.
The checklist before demolishing a house
Before any house is taken down, small or large, a number of measures need to be taken. This is the demolition process, which allows you to check what you can do by yourself before calling for professional aid:
- Controlling an Infestation
It is important to bait or fumigate your home to avoid inviting the house crashers to your neighbor's house. It is also important if you plan to rebuild on site or partially deconstruct your house.
Every state might have different laws restricting demolition. Tree removal or rare animals around need to be factored in. You also need to check for heritage restrictions that will prevent you from taking down the house.
It is also necessary to have a site analysis.
- Check for water pipes and outlets.
- Check for electric cables and wiring.
- Check for any trees that might be loosely anchored to the ground and might be a danger during the demolition.
- Check for any deep roots or ingrown vegetation.
- Check for rotting or weak pillars that might be a safety hazard during the demolition process.
This is a time-consuming process that requires a certifier and a payment fee.
The permit fee begins at about $50-$100. The payment for a private certifier ranges from $1600 to $2600, while a public certifier costs about $500+. Different cities might require permits for partial demolitions.
Consider this the first step, as it might take some time, incurring costly delays.
This requires professional aid. Electricity and plumbing utilities need to be disconnected to avoid water or fire damage to the construction crew or yourself.
The cost of hiring an electrician ranges from $162 to $522. The electricity company will also disconnect your house from the main power grid. This allows cables and switches to be removed for recycling.
The cost of hiring a plumber ranges from $175 to $480. The plumber disconnects your water supply so that any pipes that break do not flood the area. This also prevents any water-soluble hazards from spreading into the environment and neighborhood water supply.
If the house is connected to a septic tank, it must be demolished or filled. Demolition can cost anywhere from $200 to $1000 while capping it in can cost as much as $5000.
Don’t forget to disconnect your gas supply! This can be done by your gas company.
- Choose a demolition contractor.
Have a background check on your demolition company to ensure they are licensed. This is to avoid having to hire incompetent workers, which might incur even more costs.
If heavy machinery is required, check to see that they have the necessary equipment to avoid having to hire a different company.
Before hiring professional help, you can take some matters into your own hands. Remember, electricity, gas, and water are not some of them.
Enlist some friends to help you. Various parts of the house can be taken apart by the homeowner to reduce costs. These include;
- Kitchen cabinets
- Doors and door frames
- Window panes
If you are going to take part in the process, it is important to invest in safety gear. If you have a group of friends helping you, make sure they are all on the same page.
Demolish your house
You have completed the preparation checklist;
- decided on the type of demolition.
- Do you have a permit?
- Disconnect the utility services.
- I have friends or a company to help
- I hired the necessary professionals.
- Got it well within your budget?
- I found a clean-up crew and a dumpsite.
The planning and time input have finally paid off. It is now time to take down your house. Here are a few tips to get you done:
- Take out anything valuable from your house to avoid incurring extra costs on the damaged property.
- Begin with the interior of the house and finish with the exterior for partial demolition. This also depends on whether it is an external or internal demolition.
- Home Advisor provides a cost estimate for the partial demolition of extra structures such as sheds and barns.
- To save up in case you want to rebuild on-site, talk to an architect to decide on what should be preserved. The charges range from $600 to $5000 or more for a new house plan.
- Ensure the area is set up with good lighting and safety signs for any wanderers. You can use portable floodlights to properly light up the site at night to avoid walking pits and broken debris.
- You can document the process to ensure your funds have been properly utilized as stated in your budget.
- Stay safe! The demolition sites will have shingles and broken-off wood, among many sharp objects. Wear safety equipment and also ensure that your crew is also well equipped.
- Safety Goggles
- Safety boots or shoes; don’t step on that nail!
- Safety helmet
- Safety overalls, to also protect your favorite shirt from the hidden nails.
You are finishing up your partial or complete demolition and are ready to clean up.
When figuring out how much does it cost to demolish a house, it's important to consider the clean-up costs. Site clean-up takes as much time as the demolition process. It is advisable to demolish as you clean up. This not only saves time and money but also keeps the site clear for faster progress.
You can hire labor for site clean-up or get a company.
It is illegal to bury waste from your property unless it comes from household biodegradable rejects. Waste from demolition is not part of this and is therefore regulated by state law.
Burying waste on your property also limits the potential for future land buyers and investors. It also makes it costly to build later on because you will have to dispose of the buried materials again.
Burning a structure or materials from a demolition project is also illegal as it releases harmful toxins into the environment.