Demolition 101: A Beginner's Guide to Demo

demolition 101

Updated March 15, 2023

Starting a demolition project or curious to know how the demolition process works for various structures and features, like pools, concrete, or oil tanks?

You've come to the right place.

On this page, we answer questions related to...

House Demolition

House is demolished using an excavator

How do I get started with house demolition?

The first step toward getting your house demolished involves getting your home inspected.

Then you'll need to collect the necessary demolition permits.

Your demolition contractor should help you with the permitting process, but be sure to clarify this with them when getting quotes from demolition contractors.

Typically, the house demolition process involves the following steps...

Step 1: Get the building inspected.

Step 2: Acquire the necessary permits.

Step 3: Disconnect existing services.

Step 4: Tear down the house.

Step 5: Haul away the debris.

How does a house get demolished?

The two most common ways to demolish a house are either traditional, mechanical demolition with the assistance of heavy equipment, or by tearing down the house by hand (also known as deconstruction).

Traditional Mechanical Demolition

Mechanical demolition is the most common form of demolition—the house is ripped down with the help of hydraulic excavators and other heavy machinery.

The resulting debris is then hauled away via trailer or dumpster.


Also known as "green demolition" or "demolition by hand," the deconstruction process involves manually stripping and deconstructing the house piece by piece with the intent of salvaging as many of the materials inside the home as possible.

Another option is a combination of the two—partially deconstructing your home by hand before having the rest of the house demolished with an excavator—and is a way to save some money on demolition.

Learn more about house demolition:

How much does house demolition cost?

Traditional mechanical demolition is the cheapest and fastest house demolition option, with the average house demolition cost landing in the $4,000-$14,000 range.

Because of the additional labor involved, you can expect to pay 2-3x as much to have your home deconstructed by hand.

Just as there's more than one way to demolish a house, demolition costs vary, too.

Main Factors Affecting House Demolition Costs:

  • Size of your home
  • Materials your home was built with
  • Location of your home
  • Demolition method used
  • Contractor you hire

Keep reading about house demolition costs:

Find a house demolition contractor near you

Barn Demolition

Barn demolition performed with an excavator

How does barn demolition work?

Barn demolition is pretty straightforward and typically involves using an excavator to tear down all that wood.

However, reclaimed wood can be highly valuable, so carefully dismantling all that wood could pay off.

How much does barn demolition cost?

On average, barn demolition costs $5,804. However, prices can range anywhere from $1,200 - $25,000 depending on the barn's size, your location, how easy it is to access the site, and the contractor you choose.

Learn more about barn demolition:

Find a barn demolition contractor near you

Interior Demolition

How does the interior demolition process work?

Before starting any interior demolition project, you'll need to get a permit for the work and make sure all utilities are turned off.

If you're hiring a contractor to perform the interior demolition work, they likely will handle the permitting process for you, so always be sure to ask about this when getting quotes from potential contractors.

Keep reading about interior demolition:

How much does interior demolition cost per square foot?

The average interior demolition cost is $3,000-$4,500 on average but can range anywhere from $500 to $12,000.

As with most demolition jobs, the exact size and complexity of the interior demolition project will affect the overall cost.

Your exact interior demolition cost will depend on precisely the amount of work you're having done.

Plumbing, load-bearing walls, asbestos—these are the #1 culprits for hiking up interior demolition costs.

Learn more about interior demo costs:

Find an interior demolition contractor in your area

Mobile Home Removal

How is a mobile home removed?

There are multiple ways to get rid of a mobile home—demolition, deconstruction, relocation, donation, or resale.

The most common form of mobile home removal is mobile home demolition, and it involves the following steps:

Step 1: Get a permit.

Step 2: Tear down mobile home.

Step 3: Separate salvageable materials.

Step 4: Haul away the remaining debris.

How much does it cost to demolish a mobile home?

The national average cost to demolish a mobile home is $3.50 per square foot.

Average Cost to Demolish or Remove a Mobile Home

Mobile Home Type Dimensions Sq. Ft. Cost to Demolish
Singlewide mobile home (short) 50 ft L x 15 ft W 750 sq ft $2,625
Singlewide mobile home (long) 72 ft L x 15 ft W 1,080 sq ft $3,780
Doublewide mobile home (short) 56 ft L x 26 ft W 1,456 sq ft $5,096
Doublewide mobile home (long) 72 ft L x 26 ft W 1,872 sq ft $6,552

Keep reading about mobile home demolition:

Find a mobile home removal contractor in your area

Pool Removal

How is a swimming pool removed?

There are two ways to demolish or remove an inground swimming pool: completely remove the pool, debris and all, or remove the top layer and bury the rest of the debris.

Inground Pool Removal Method 1: Partial Removal (Pool Fill In)

Partial pool removal, or a pool fill-in, is a common form of pool demolition. It involves:

  • Draining the pool
  • Punching holes into the bottom
  • Demolishing the top layer of the pool (18' - 36')
  • Placing the rubble at the bottom of the pool
  • Filling in the pool with additional dirt and topsoil
  • Compacting the soil

Inground Pool Removal Method 2: Complete Inground Pool Removal

With complete pool removal, the pool is drained, and all materials (e.g. concrete/Gunite, fiberglass, liner, re-bar, etc.) are removed and hauled away.

The area is then filled with dirt and/or gravel and is compacted and returned to grade.

Above Ground Pool Removal

Removing an above ground pool is straightforward—turn off and disconnect the water hook up, drain the pool, and haul it away.

How much does it cost to remove or fill in a pool?

Inground pool removal costs $6,000-$7,000 on average, but prices can range anywhere from $3,500-$7,000 on average.

Inground pool removal costs can balloon to well over $10,000 depending on the size and complexity of your pool.

The national average cost to remove an above ground pool is around $2,000 but can vary depending on the size, material, and location of the pool.

Learn more about pool removal:

Find a pool removal contractor near you

Concrete Removal

How does concrete removal work?

There are several tools that concrete demolition contractors can use to remove concrete.

Two of the most commonly used concrete removal tools include...

  • A Bobcat equipped with a hydraulic or pneumatic breaker attachment
  • A jackhammer

Usually, the contractor will also bring a roll-off dumpster to the site. Once the concrete is broken, the Bobcat loads it into the dumpster and hauls it away to a landfill or concrete recycler.

How much does concrete removal cost?

The national average cost to remove concrete is $900-$1,500; however, this cost can vary immensely depending on...

  • The amount of concrete that needs to be removed
  • Disposal fees
  • Your location

If contractors in your area are able to haul the concrete to a recycler, you can save a significant amount of money by no longer having to pay "per ton" dump fees at the landfill.

Here are a few examples of professionally done concrete removal prices:

1. A relatively small concrete patio removal or concrete sidewalk removal (200 sq ft) costs $400-$600 in some parts of the country, but the cost can be significantly more if the concrete cannot be recycled.

2. A typical two-car concrete driveway removal costs $1,500 - $2,500+, but this is highly dependent on the overall size of the driveway. Also, if the driveway was completed with reinforced concrete, it's more difficult to remove and the cost to remove it will likely go up.

3. A concrete foundation removal costs $2,000-$5,000 on average.

Keep reading about concrete removal:

Find a concrete removal contractor near you

Oil Tank Removal

How does oil tank removal work?

Before the tank can be removed, it needs to be taken out of service and properly "closed," which involves emptying the tank and pipes of any heating oil and thoroughly cleaning it in order to eliminate any residual oil and vapors.

If there's no sign that the oil tank leaked, the tank is cleaned and deemed "closed."

It is then dug up out of the ground, lifted onto a trailer, and hauled away to be properly disposed of and reused/recycled when possible.

How much does oil tank removal cost?

On average, oil tank removal costs between $1,300 and $3,000.

However, underground oil tank removal is more expensive than above ground tank removal.

In addition, if your tank is leaking, the removal and clean-up process could rocket as high as $30,000 in some cases.

Keep reading about oil tank removal:

Demolition Debris Disposal

The best way to dispose of demolition debris is with a dumpster, although sometimes the demolition contractor you hire will handle the debris disposal for you and include disposal fees in their demolition price.

For large demolition projects, a 30 yard dumpster or 40 yard dumpster would be the best choice.

Learn more about dumpster sizing and dumpster pricing to make sure you don't overpay.

Keep reading: