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How Much Does It Cost To Demolish A House?

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Demolishing a house costs an average of $18,000, though the price can be as low as $3,000 or as high as $25,000, varying based on many different factors. It’s important to plan ahead of time not only for cost efficiency, but also to ensure your contractor is prepared and organized to do the job correctly, safely, and in a timely matter.

Cost to Demolish a House Per Square Foot

The price of removing a house is based on several factors including the size of the space, structural additions on the property, required permits and waste material clearing. For a complete teardown (minus foundation) of a large home, about 1,500 or more square feet, rates can range from $3,000 in a rural area to $18,000 in a densely-populated city. A complete demo of a house and its foundation or basement can cost much as $25,000.
The cost of removal can vary based on the area lived in and the typical wages in the region. Some estimates put a price tag of $18,000 on bulldozing a 1,500 square-foot house, while others show that the average estimate is around $4-$15 per square foot. For example, a 1,200 square-foot home could be between $4,800 and $18,000.
Since most demolition projects are charged by square foot, obtaining an accurate measurement of the property can give homeowners an idea of the overall expense. Whether the process is manual or mechanical can also impact your final project budget.

Other Cost Factors

Site Preparation

It’s critical to ensure that gas, water, and electricity are shut off prior to starting. Additionally, plumbing pipes, HVAC units, and electrical wiring and outlets need to be addressed by professionals. If you’re bulldozing an entire property, it’s important to disconnect gas, water, and electricity lines. If you’re only knocking down a few walls, you’ll still need to shut off these utilities, but you’ll also be wise to hire a contractor to remove, reroute, or replace any wires, pipes, or HVAC lines running through them. The cost to hire an electrician is well worth the investment for safety’s sake.
There are also safety gear investments that will need to be made when tearing down a home. All construction areas should be taped off and clearly marked, and any outdoor areas should be well-lit with floodlights during evening work hours. If you’re assisting in any part of the process, it’s important to wear protective clothing, gloves, work boots, goggles, and a hardhat. To protect those who will be onsite at any period during or after the teardown, masks should be provided and fabric mats or cardboard should line walkways, so it’s easy to distinguish between safe and hazardous paths. When hiring professionals for the job, be sure to ask if they intend to supply and install site preparation materials.

Rebuilding on Site

Rebuilding a house on this property can also impact the overall demolition budget. If this is your long-term plan, working with an architect before the house is torn down can be a huge time and money saver. A local architect can work with your demolition contractor to decide if any parts of the structure, plumbing, wiring, or ventilation should be spared, whether it remains standing on the lot or is set aside to be reused. The national average rate for an architect is about $5,000.

Tearing Down a House with Asbestos

Hazardous waste can greatly impact the cost of clearing debris. Many older homes contain asbestos, and there are special fees and considerations associated with its removal and disposal. As it ages, its texture becomes flaky, making it susceptible to becoming an airborne toxin that poses risks to human and environmental health. For this reason, a house contaminated with asbestos cannot be torn down without proper handling.
It’s crucial that all asbestos is removed prior to a demolition project of any size. This will require it not only being extracted from the home, but also disposed of properly. Since there are rigid guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local, state, and federal codes in place for working with this toxin, it’s imperative that you enlist a professional contractor. The national average cost to eliminate asbestos is about $200-$700 per hour.
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Average Partial Demolition Prices

A partial demolition is often necessary for homeowners who are doing major home remodels, such as tearing down an outside wall to expand a room or breaking down non-load bearing beams. You could be charged upwards of $24,000, but this expense is often eligible for a tax write-off.

Attached or Detached Garage - $3,000-$9,000

Many garages have electrical and plumbing considerations, so the cost can vary from $2-$6 per square foot, or roughly $3,000-$9,000. A partial demolition might entail:
  • Tearing down drywall from one or more garage walls, but keeping the inner frames intact.
  • Removing one or more walls in their entirety, but maintaining at least part of the original structure.
  • Cutting into the walls or ceiling in order to install or access internal wiring.

Swimming Pool - $2,700-$19,000

Swimming pools can be a complex building project in both installation and removal. The average cost to remove a pool falls around $6,500. There are many different methods you can take to getting rid of a swimming pool, such as filling it in fully or partially, or using an engineered or non-engineered backfill.

Deck Removal Costs- $30-$50 per square foot

If a house has an unsound ground floor deck, a partial demolition and rebuild may be the safest option. Depending on the deck design, a partial deconstruction will run about $30 per square foot. An elevated deck may result in additional fees due to height and any added materials it requires to keep it above ground, averaging about $45-$50 per square foot to eliminate.

Chimney - $4,000-$10,000

The price of chimney removal depends upon several factors, including whether it extends into the basement, or is bolted onto or built into the structure. Most of these jobs fall within the $4,000-$10,000 range, but additional fees to repair any roof damage done in the process may also need to be considered.

Shed/Barn - $50-$100 per hour

Tearing down a shed or a barn may seem simple, but depending on the materials involved, the project may require more equipment than a sledgehammer. The structure will need to be dismantled, and then the pieces will need to be hauled away for disposal or set aside to be reused or even sold. (See the below Disposal and Cleanup section for more information.) The estimates can vary between $50 and $100 an hour due to building size, ease of access to the site, and the amount of debris that needs to be cleared.

Roof - $4-$5 per square foot

The roof is quite possibly one of the priciest and most important demo projects. From enhancement to rebuilding, the rate for demolishing and reconstructing a roof can be between $4-$5 per square foot and more than $45 per hour for labor.

Driveway - $1,500-$5,000

Extracting a driveway is a multi-step process, which requires breaking the concrete or asphalt, hauling away the debris, and leveling out the site. The national average cost to demolish a concrete driveway is $1,500, but the rate can be as much as $5,000 in some cases.

Foundation - $1,000-$5,000

The average bill for a complete foundation removal runs between $1,000 and $5,000. This may sound like a bargain considering that the average foundation repair runs $5,000-$7,000, but if you plan to rebuild, you’ll need to grade the site (flatten out the land) before laying another foundation. Site grading averages $1,000-$2,000 per 1,000 square feet, and a new foundation has a price tag of $7,800 on average.

Interior - $400-$9,000

Partial interior demolition costs can range from addressing dangerous situations like getting rid of molded kitchens to remodeling unnecessary spaces like walk-in closets. The average price of bulldozing interior spaces ranges between $1,300 and $5,000.

Additions - $50-$100 per hour

A poorly constructed addition or extension is another very common reason for a partial demolition. Razing just a section of the house may be required if it has not been well-kept, though other areas are solid and strong.
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Knocking Down a Mobile Home

Mobile homes are modular, and therefore much easier to demolish. With proper training, they can often be torn down in as little as one day. Of course, you’ll want to be sure you are well-educated on the type of mobile home you are working with. This is a job best left to the professionals to ensure the project is done properly and safely. The cost of teardown depends on the size, materials and method of removal, but most experts estimate around $4 per square foot.

Commercial Demolition

The factors which affect residential demolition prices also affect commercial demolitions. Some of the most common influences include the project size, the type of materials which need to be deconstructed, whether or not there are any hazardous materials, and bulldozing any leftover waste products like the concrete foundation. The national average price for the demolition of a small restaurant of 1,000 sq. ft. would be between $1,400 and $1,700.
Commercial demolitions distinguish between economic enterprises and living quarters. Examples of economic or commercial units would be office buildings, restaurants, and other businesses like general stores. The average cost per square foot for a commercial demolition decreases as the square footage of the project rises, but the general national average is $4.00-$8.00 per sq. ft. For a medium sized project of a 10,000 sq. ft. building, you could expect to pay between $40,000 and $80,000. This is higher than that of residential which falls between $$2.00-$7.00 per sq. ft., or $20,000 - $70,00 for a 10,000 sq. ft. structure. These costs do not include the cost of disposal and cleanup of the demolished materials, nor does it include the price of permits needed to begin the project.

Permits - $50 to $100

Before or during the estimation process, it is important to know what permits and inspections are required for the project. Most range from $50-$100. Different ordinances in major cities and counties could require permits for both partial and full demolitions of any structure, from a house to a barn or shed. A licensed, reputable contractor will get all of the required permits for your project, but you should find out what they are and how many you’ll need so you can budget accordingly.

Demolition vs. Deconstruction

A term often used in tandem with “demolition” is “deconstruction;” however, the two are very different situations.
Demolition means removing the entirety of the house as safely and efficiently as possible, often with a variety of machinery like forklifts and sledgehammers. Deconstruction crews will salvage reusable materials and structural elements of the home prior to leveling it; often, the foundation is left intact.
Benefits of deconstruction include being able to keep these materials for a rebuild, selling them for a profit, or recycling them. This can help mitigate the negative impact dismantling a home can have on the environment. Plus, deconstruction usually results in a tax write-off, with some cases allowing for as much as $30,000-$45,000.

Disposal and Cleanup - $300-$1,800

Your contractor will let you know if disposal and cleanup are part of their services. If so, this fee should be listed in your contract. Alternatively, some contractors opt to hire professional hauling services, or let you know that it’s your responsibility to hire a cleanup crew. The average rate to hire a debris removal service is $200.
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Hiring a Pro

The best way to get an idea of the price tag is to hire a professional to conduct an estimate for you. A pre-project audit will provide an idea of the building materials used in the house and the charges for their removal and/or recycling. In addition, it’s important to know what your homowner’s insurance company will cover in any situations that may arise during and after the job. Consider hiring a professional who has liability insurance if your current plan doesn’t cover enough.
When opting for demolition, there are dozens of options that will impact cost and budget. There’s no one bottom-line rate for bulldozing a house, just like there is no one central reason to tear one down. Knowing your home’s square footage, the materials from which it’s made, and what you plan to do on the land after are three key components to getting a strong estimate on the final figure of your specific project.
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