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Cost to Demolish A House

As home options in congested cities and the desirable neighborhoods outside of them become more and more limited, a number of potential homeowners are now looking at alternative ways of buying into your preferred areas. Demolishing whole homes or their interiors is one such method that allows buyers to take an older, unsuitable home on a valuable lot and create a modern dream house. The costs to demolish all or part of a home vary widely, however, according to factors such as size, location, health hazards and more. Understanding the costs and the factors that go into home demolition is one way to take advantage of this housing trend without breaking the bank.

Once you are ready to demolish, ImproveNet can help you get in touch with local demolition contractors.

National Demolition Costs

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by ImproveNet members.

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Average reported cost

based on 195 cost profiles


Minimum cost


Maximum cost

Most homeowners spent between:




National Demolition Costs
Average reported cost $3,062
Number of Cost Profiles 195 cost profiles
Minimum reported cost $200
Maximum reported cost $10,000
Most homeowners spent between: $1,415 to $3,497

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Table of Contents

  1. Demolition Costs
  2. Demolition Cost Factors
  3. Is the House or Room Worth Salvaging?
  4. Permits Required for Demolition
  5. Demolition or Deconstruction?
  6. DIY or Hire A Pro
  7. Find A Pro

Demolition Costs

Demolition costs are subject to many, many factors that make them vary from as little as $4/sf to over $15. In general, however, completely demolishing a home alone costs between $4,000 and $14,000. Adding in a foundation raise or demolition can increase that number by $1,000 to $5,000, depending on whether it’s a basement or a slab, and factors such as asbestos and lead paint can add even more - upwards of $20,000 if the entire building needs asbestos abatement.

Demolition Cost Factors

The top factors that influence the cost of a home demolition include:

  • The size of a structure
  • The foundation type and whether it needs to be demolished during the course of the project
  • The materials used to build the home - brick is harder to demolish than wood
  • The cost of permits
  • Removal of hazards such as asbestos and lead paint
  • Debris removal

Each of these elements can add as little as $1,000 to tens of thousands of dollars onto the final cost. In fact, cost reports for demolishing a 1,500sf home range from as low as $6,000 to as much as $22,500 based on these factors alone.

One cost factor of special note, however, is the location of your home. Not only are contracting rates lower in places like the South and the Midwest when compared to both of the coasts, but some municipalities also charge high fees for demolition permits in order to discourage the practice. The City of Chicago, for example, charges upwards of $10,000 for demolition permits in an effort to encourage homeowners to opt for extensive renovations instead.

Is the House or Room Worth Salvaging?

While there are clear advantages to demolition, it’s neither an easy nor an inexpensive option for many homeowners, and sometimes, it's not even necessary. In fact, in some cases, salvaging some or all of a home is a better option compared to total demolition. For example, consider the following:

  1. The real value of the home and the lot itself?
  2. Is there any historic significance to the home or neighborhood?
  3. Are there serious structural problems with the home such as major rot, infestations or mold?
  4. Are demolitions cost-effective in your city or county? 

Once you answer each of these questions, the value and feasibility of total demolition will be easier to assess. It’s also important to take these considerations and talk to a building professional who may be able to better advise you on the specifics of your situation.

Permits Required for Demolition

No matter the extent of a demolition project, homeowners in most areas need to get a permit from the proper governing body in order to commence demo work. This is because the noise, potential exposure to hazardous materials and general interruption to the neighborhood must be documented and easy for others to see and prepare for. In addition, demolitions must conform to building codes and local bylaws, which anyone applying for the permit must agree to follow.

Depending on where the house is located, homeowners or contractors apply for a permit with a county, city, town or village building department. However, when demolition is part of a larger remodeling or addition project, in most cases, the permit for the home remodel often includes demolition as well.

The costs of demolition permits vary widely from municipality to municipality and may increase or decrease depending on the extent of the demolition. On average, homeowners pay between $50 - $100 for demolition permits, which are often included in the price quoted by a demolition professional. In addition, be aware that removing a foundation or commencing asbestos abatement can increase this amount, sometimes significantly.

Permits Required for Demolition

Demolition or Deconstruction?

While most people seem to understand what the term “demolition” means thanks to shows like Extreme Home Makeover and HGTV favorites like Property Brothers, deconstruction is another option that may actually benefit homeowners financially, at least in the long run. First, take a look at the different definitions of each:

Demolition: The complete teardown of a structure or part of a structure to its foundation. Debris from this process is generally treated as waste.

Deconstruction: A slower, more deliberate teardown or partial teardown of a structure in such a way as to preserve its component parts for recycle or resale.

Demolition is a faster process that’s less expensive on the front end. Because it’s not concerned with preserving any element, heavy equipment is used to accelerate the process, which generally takes no more than one day.

Deconstruction, on the other hand, is a much slower process that’s often completed by hand. As each element of a building comes out, it’s carefully preserved and stored for later use. This process can take several days or several weeks depending on the size of the structure. The precise, time-consuming nature of deconstruction makes it more expensive in the beginning. However, by taking associated tax breaks and selling items salvaged from the home, deconstruction can often save money in the long run. For example, a 2,400sf home in Seattle was quoted at $13,000 for demolition and $36,000 for deconstruction. However, after sale and tax breaks, the homeowner recovered all but $1,300 of that deconstruction cost, making it the more cost-effective choice in the long run.

DIY or Hire A Pro

While home improvement shows make tearing down walls look as easy as swinging a sledgehammer, there’s actually a very precise process involved in demolition jobs. Not only does safety need to be of paramount importance, but failure to tear a building or even just a wall down properly can also lead to fines, legal entanglements or worse.

Hiring a professional demolition contractor not only ensures that your home or room is properly demolished, but contractors also often complete the necessary steps for permits and assume legal responsibility for the details of the demo. Furthermore, in situations where asbestos is present in the home, professional demolition contractors also make sure all HazMat protocols are in place for a healthy, safe abatement.

Find A Pro

When you’re ready to start the process of demolition at your home, take a minute to fill out this handy free ImproveNet lead form first. Tell us about your project and we’ll put you in contact with qualified local contractors who can advise you and bid on your project.

Last updated on Jul 27, 2016

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