Demolition: what's involved?

House demolition 
These days it's often cheaper to demolish and build anew than it is to fully renovate an existing home. Image by Chris Hill.

There are a few reasons people choose to demolish a house and start from scratch. Normally it’s because the house is in a great location, but is a bit too tired and dilapidated to renovate. Often (and in some cases sadly) the cost of major renovations or repairs far outweighs the cost of just demolishing and building a nice new home from the ground up. Partial vs. full demolitions Demolition doesn’t necessarily mean knocking down an entire house. In some cases, people choose to knock down only part of an existing structure, or to leave up a particular wall or façade. There are a couple of reasons that people might choose to do this – the first is that even if they don’t want the hassle of renovating, they may want to retain some of the original charm or character of the place – or only to improve a certain section of the property. The second reason is a little more strategic. Often local councils change the rules that determine how far from the border of the property you're allowed to build your home (i.e. the 'setback'), and building onto a part of an existing structure - and thereby retaining the original footprint - offers a clever way to get around this. For example, the front aspect of an existing home, as well as giving a bit of period charm, may also be closer to the front boundary than you’re allowed to build a new home... Obviously a large amount of care, attention and engineering consideration is required to ensure that these sorts of parts still retain their structural integrity. What does demolition involve?


While knocking down a house is a fairly uncomplicated job, there are quite a few things that need to be taken into consideration. These include:

  • applying for the necessary demolition permits
  • disconnecting existing services (e.g. electricity, drainage, gas and water supply)
  • protecting nearby properties and structures
  • ensuring that the area’s safe for the rest of the public
  • arranging for salvage or disposal of the demolition waste

Who does demolition work?


Demolition work can be extremely dangerous, and should only ever be carried out by an approved, licensed demolisher. Demolishers often provide a full-service, dealing with cleanup, waste disposal, asbestos removal, salvage and completely clearing the site of rubble and vegetation. Some demolishers also operate as recyclers and building suppliers too.

How much does house demolition cost?

The prices a demolition specialist will charge depend on a variety of things. The demolisher will normally needto come and look at the site to make an appraisal. The quoted price will usually take into account how much demolition work’s involved, what sorts of materials will be involved, how easily the site can be accessed, and what the demolisher can salvage and sell, among other things. As with any other aspect of building, it’s never a bad idea to get a few quotes.

How long does it take to demolish a house?

Demolition of an entire house can normally be carried out in a matter of days, although this will also depend on how big the house is and what’s going to be salvaged.