How to determine building demolition costs

Written by katlyn joy
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How to determine building demolition costs
Building demolition costs vary greatly by type of demolition and the area where the demolition occurs. (demolition of dilapidated shelters, scavenging image by Sergey Minaev from

Demolition is a big project and requires much planning. An old building is potentially quite unsafe and workers must exercise care in removing unsteady structures. The two basic types of demolition are manual, which involves workers using individual tools, and mechanical, which uses special machinery. Certain materials, such as asbestos, can be hazardous. Because of safety and liability concerns, many people hire demolition professionals.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Use a general formula to make a ballpark estimate of demolition costs. "Building Journal" suggests multiplying the amount of material to be demolished, such as square feet, by the rate of demolition (determined by the type of machinery and number of workers) to produce an estimate of how many hours it will take to demolish the building.

    For instance, multiply the time estimated for the project by £97 per hour for worker wages and rental equipment fees of £48 an hour. Add, say, £130 for licenses and insurance fees, then subtract how much you expect to recoup though salvaging materials from the demolished building.

  2. 2

    Determine the costs of licenses or permits, costs of utility notification if any, costs for renting any required equipment, and the rates for a demolition company or workers if you are hiring outside professionals. Plug these numbers into your formula for estimating demolition costs.

  3. 3

    Investigate what materials will be removed from the home, taking into account any hazardous materials that may require special handling and materials that may be salvaged. Find out the cost of removing hazardous materials removal and the value of salvaged materials.

  4. 4

    Get a detailed listing of what is included and what isn't in demolition quotes. For instance, are travel costs, insurance, debris removal and equipment costs included in the estimate?

  5. 5

    Compare estimates and ask for referrals from previous projects, particularly those involving structures of similar size. If an estimate is significantly different, find out why and make sure you haven't missed any crucial details.

Tips and warnings

  • According to, demolition of a small Midwestern home of 800 to 1,500 square feet down to the basement can run £1,950 to £5,200, according to 2010 data. A down-to-the-dirt demolition using heavy equipment on a larger home can run £16,250 or more.

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