When you hear the term "demolition", what's the first thing that comes to your mind? Perhaps you associate it with wrecking balls, giant excavators, or imploding buildings. Here's the truth: Whether you are smashing a few walls to open up a space or taking down an entire artificial structure to build a new one, house demolition actually takes precision and extensive planning, especially if you want to stay within your budget. To help you stay within that budget, we go over the details and costs that you need to know and consider.
Factors that affect house demolition costNot all house demolition projects are the same. Let's go over the different variables that can affect the cost to tear down a house:
House sizeTearing down a 2-storey 230 square metre house will cost you more than bulldozing a 165 square metre bungalow. Larger demolition projects will involve additional workers, time, and equipment. Furthermore, it's common for contractors to charge on a per-square-metre basis, so the property's size will be central to determining how much you'll spend.
Materials the house is made fromThe materials involved will affect demolition costs for a few reasons:
- It determines the difficulty of the project. Because some materials (e.g. concrete, bricks) are tougher than others (e.g. timber), they will require heavier machinery and equipment (e.g. excavator, backhoe loader, jackhammer).
- Houses made of tougher materials will take more man-hours to demolish.
- Timber, among various materials, can be salvaged and recycled. This can save you some money if you intend to build or renovate.
Site AccessibilityDemolition requires the right equipment. If the house you plan to demolish is difficult to access, your contractor will have a more difficult time transporting their gear (and the resulting debris from the demolition) to and from the site. This difficulty will lead to more costs that will be passed on to you. Likewise, the house's distance to recycling or disposal centres will add to your transportation expenses as well.
Additional servicesHouse demolition is not limited to the house you need to tear down. You will also have to:
- Excavate the house's foundation
- Remove other structures such as a pool or patio.
- Clear trees and shrubs to make room for the next project.
LocationHouse demolition price varies per state and territory. For example, contractors in Queensland charge about $40 per hour on average to demolish a framed house, while those in Sydney cost about $53 per hour on average (more on this later).
Hazardous materialsIf a house or any artificial structure contains hazardous materials like lead-based paint, mould, and asbestos, demolishing it would cost more because:
- Doing so would require special training and equipment.
- A licensed specialist must perform asbestos removal.
Asbestos is around three times more expensive to remove compared to regular building materials. To determine what type of demolition method you should use, schedule an asbestos and mould inspection beforehand.
What demolition method should you use?Generally speaking, there are three ways to tear down a house:
- Heavy machinery like a hydraulic excavator or crane and wrecking ball.
- Explosives like dynamite or nitroglycerine.
DeconstructionThis refers to the selective dismantling of a structure to preserve its components for recycling, re-purposing, and waste management. Deconstruction is usually done by hand, making it more labour-intensive, time-consuming, and expensive.
CombinationFortunately, you can combine both methods to:
- Salvage reusable materials.
- Demolish the rest, then transport the remaining debris.
Utilising demolition and deconstruction enables you to save valuable construction materials and reduce the time it takes to tear down a house.
How much does a house demolition cost?
Here is the estimated house demolition cost (per square metre) in some of Australia's major cities:
|Type of structure
|Framed residential structure
|Brick residential structure
Because deconstruction projects are more labour-intensive, they will cost approximately double these house demolition price estimates.
How much does a demolition permit cost?
Tearing down a house will require a permit from your local council. It typically costs around $350 and is usually included in the total house demolition price. Depending on your location, a demolition permit may take 7 to 14 days to get approval. You will likely be required to submit the following when applying for a demolition permit:
- Three copies of the site plans, specifying clearly which areas and materials will be demolished.
- Details about any other demolition work that's been carried out in the last few years.
- A photo of the building's facade
- A copy of your Certificate of Title for the land.
- The name, registration, and insurance details of an approved demolition contractor.
- A copy of the public liability insurance policy.
- Plans regarding the protection of adjoining properties.
- A description of the demolition and waste disposal procedure.
How long does a house demolition take?
Knocking down houses takes only a few days but varies depending on several factors - such as the ones outlined above (see "Factors that affect house demolition cost"), and the method used to tear down the structure. Demolishing a house during fair weather and using a hydraulic excavator can take three days. By day 4 or 5, the site is already levelled and cleared of waste. Deconstruction will take much longer.
Is it cheaper to tear down a house and rebuild than renovate?
It depends. To help you decide, you need to:
- Calculate the costs for rebuilding and renovating, then compare them. As a general guide, you can construct a bungalow for about $200,000 and a 2-storey house for about $250,000.
- Consider the age and condition of the existing house. If it needs major structural repair, then demolishing it and building a new structure will likely be cheaper and more convenient than trying to renovate it.
- Consider the market conditions. Demolishing and building are better in places where vacant land is rare and located in popular areas near the city or beach. The cost of rebuilding should not cost more than the property's market value.
- Consider the location. Is the house on a heritage overlay or sloping block? These complications can make rebuilding more complicated.
- Decide if the hassle of renovating is worth it, considering your personal circumstances (e.g. you're raising a family or working full time).
How can I find the best house demolition cost possible?Good news: The task gets easier with iseekplant. We are Australia's trusted search site for hiring equipment and contracting services. You can find and compare many house demolition services in just a few clicks through our large directory.
Some additional tips:
- When you do your search, get quotes from at least three demolition contractors, then compare their rates to get the best house demolition price.
- If you deconstruct your house, you can salvage materials (e.g. timber, concrete), and then sell or reuse them. This can help you recoup your costs.
- To reduce the cost of disposing of debris, look for charities that are interested in using your salvaged materials.