What does house demolition cost?

Demolition of a house

The cost to demolish a house can vary significantly depending upon multiple factors. Based on nationwide averages, it typically costs between $4,000 and $14,000 to demolish a house but could be more or less depending on its size, location, whether or not asbestos is present, and more.

Here are some examples of what customers like you are paying for their house demolition...

House Demolition Costs Across the U.S.
Demolition Cost Project Size & Type Location
$2,600 1,400 sq. ft. house Waterford, MI
$5,000 2,500 sq. ft. house Marshallville, GA
$15,000 2,915 sq. ft. house & garage Paterson, NJ
$5,000 2,600 sq. ft. house Sugar Land, TX
$13,800 3,500 sq. ft. house Senoia, GA
$8,250 1,850 sq. ft. house Seabrook, NH
$5,500 1,400 sq. ft. house Bessemer, AL
$26,000 9,000 sq. ft. house Houston, TX
$9,000 2,600 sq. ft. house Atlanta, GA
$18,000 4,500 sq. ft. house Argyle, TX
$10,000 1,100 sq. ft. house Vienna, VA
$9,000 3,500 sq. ft. house Charlotte, NC
$4,750 1,250 sq. ft. house Layton, FL

Keep in mind: Your house demolition price could be more or less than those listed above. The total cost to demolish your house will depend on its size, where it's located, whether or not hazardous materials are present, permits, inspections, disposal fees, and more.

Because there are ways to minimize costs and save on your bottom line, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of the factors affecting demolition costs.
 

Factors influencing the cost of a house demolition

Geographic Location

House being demolishedIn California, the average cost to demolish a house is much higher compared to the demolition costs in Florida. Based on Hometown’s data, it’s about a $7,000 difference. Obviously, you can’t control where you live, so this is one cost factor you can’t influence.

You can, however, shop around demolition contractors to find the best deal. Get a quote from a local demolition contractor and use it as leverage with another company to get a better price. That’s how good old capitalism works.

Size of the house

Most demolition contractors quote you a price based on the square footage of your home. This can range from $3 to $15 per square foot. There’s not a standard per-square-foot-cost to go by, so be sure to check with at least one other demolition contractor in your area to see if it can beat the quoted cost of a competing company.

EXAMPLE: A 1,500 square foot house will typically cost between $6,000 and $22,500 to demolish. The wide gap in price is due to the multitude of factors that influence demolition costs (e.g., location, asbestos abatement, etc.)

 

Asbestos

Asbestos abatementAny home built before 1986 is at risk of harboring asbestos. The substance was banned in 1978 but was still allowed to be used until current stocks were gone. It’s found in flooring, woven into wall tiles, insulation, and popcorn ceilings. Once airborne, asbestos becomes extremely toxic, which is why special care is necessary to remove it prior to any demolition work being done.

The demolition contractor may handle the asbestos removal itself or sub-contract the work out to a licensed asbestos abatement specialist. The total cost of asbestos removal ranges from $1,000 for removal of small sections of affected areas to $20,000+ for whole-home asbestos abatement projects.

The problem here is that there’s no way around it. If you have an older home found to contain asbestos, this is a cost you’ll have to absorb. The asbestos abatement procedure can take up to a week for homes with extensive asbestos to as little as two days for smaller jobs.

WARNING: Don’t try to reduce demolition costs by removing asbestos yourself. The health effects of exposure to asbestos are no joke. Hire an asbestos abatement specialist to do the job. Your demo contractor can recommend one if you don’t know of any.

 

Foundation

Do you want the foundation to stay put, or do you want it demolished along with the house? It can cost an additional $1,000 to $5,000 to demolish a basement foundation. It’s slightly less expensive to demo a concrete slab foundation.

A demolition contractor will typically use heavy machinery, such as a backhoe, to demolish and remove concrete foundations. The demolition cost of removing a foundation usually includes hauling away the concrete debris and may also include returning the site to grade.

 

Type of debris

It costs more to demolish a house built from brick or concrete compared to a wood-framed house. The demo process is much more involved and takes longer, which is why the cost is steeper.

House demolition


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    Is deconstruction a more affordable option?

    If you look at the upfront costs of deconstruction vs. demolition, it’s clear that demolition is the cheaper option – at least 25% less expensive. However, the upfront costs don’t tell the whole story.

    House deconstructionDeconstruction is often the more affordable option if your finances allow you to pay more upfront and wait several months to recoup this investment in the form of tax deductions later on. Good things come to those who wait.

    Deconstruction—often referred to as "demolition by hand" or "green demolition"—is a demolition method where all salvageable building materials and parts of the house are recovered and reused. Most of the time these materials are donated to places like Habitat for Humanity. It’s by far the “greener” of the two demolition options.

    It costs more upfront to go the way of deconstruction simply because the demolition is done by hand rather than using primarily heavy equipment. It takes several days, or even weeks, longer to complete a deconstruction project, so it’s not the best solution if you’re in a time crunch.

    Here’s a real-world example from MSN Real Estate:

    Mike Davidson of Seattle decided to demolish his small house that was built in 1953. He decided on deconstruction, which ended costing about $25,000. An independent appraiser valued the building materials and items donated to an area Habitat ReStore at $18,000, and much of that money is recouped during tax time. In the end, deconstruction was the more affordable, and “greener,” option for Mike.

    House deconstructionA second example of how deconstruction works out to be affordable was published in the Seattle Times.

    For this example, it involved taking down a 2,400 square foot home with a two-car garage. The total upfront costs worked out to about $36,000 to deconstruct and $13,000 to demolish. That’s quite a big difference; however, once tax savings were factored in, things looked quite a bit different. The final numbers were $1,300 for deconstruction compared to $13,000 for the demolition.

    About 75% of your home is recyclable or can be reused. If your home contains valuable materials, such as hardwood floors, high-quality cedar siding or brick/stonework, deconstruction can recoup some of the value of these in-demand building materials.

    If speed and a lower upfront cost are more important to you, a traditional demolition is the way to go.

    Learn more about deconstruction:


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    Cost Breakdown for a House Demolition

    Here’s a quick pricing breakdown for services related to demolishing a home. These are prices for each individual service, but keep in mind the cost of the demolition (e.g., “Demolishing the house”) may already include the cost of the permit, foundation removal, debris removal and bringing the site back to grade. Prices and services vary by contractor and location.

    • Quote/Assessment: Free
    • Demolition permit: $50 - $100
    • Demolishing the house (U.S. average): $9,000
    • Foundation removal: $1,000 - $5,000
    • Debris removal / Site grading: $1,000

    Optional service (Alternative to traditional demolition):

    • Deconstruction: $12,000+

    Learn more about home demolition costs: