How much does it cost to demolish a house?

by | May 3, 2023 | Building costs, Building new, Building tips

With knockdown rebuilds becoming more popular, it’s a great time to be a demolition company. The cost of knocking down a house is something you’re unlikely to have thought much about until you need to do it. There are numerous factors to consider that will influence how much knocking down your home is likely to cost. In today’s article, we’re pulling apart the cost to demolish a house. We’ll cover the steps involved, look at how prices vary from state to state and provide tips on how you can cut costs.

The average cost of home demolition projects by state

The cost of a home demolition project will depend on numerous factors. Below is a rough guide to the average house demolition cost in a few Australian states.

Queensland: $9,500

New South Wales: $11,500

Victoria: $11,500

Western Australia: $8,000

The above are costs regarding demolishing an entire structure, not a partial demolition.

What is the home demolition process?

Initial Consultation

The first step is talking to a demolition contractor about your project, listening to what they have to say and getting a feel for whether they’re a good fit. We strongly recommend avoiding any contractor who doesn’t come and inspect your property. It raises a lot of red flags, such as that they cut corners and that their quote won’t be reliable.

Receive a quote

Once the contractor has performed their inspection, they will provide you with a quote. Ideally, this will be detailed and outline exactly what you’ll be getting for the proposed price. Don’t be shy about asking questions or for any clarification. Being completely clear about the quote is not only just good general practice, it will help if you’re comparing a few different companies.

Get an asbestos check

If your home was built before the 1980s, there is a chance it may contain asbestos. You must find out whether this is the case with your home and find out how much it will add to your costs so you can plan accordingly. This is a dangerous job, so only talk to qualified, specialised asbestos removal companies.

asbestos roof, demolition

Obtain permits

Before demolition can be undertaken, you’ll need to obtain a Development Approval or a Complying Development Certificate. You can apply for a DA through your local council. Usually, your demolition contractor can help you with any necessary permits and approvals.

Disconnect all services

Before your home can be demolished, you’ll need to disconnect all utilities including electricity, plumbing, phone, internet and any other services. It’s best to get started on this several weeks in advance to avoid any delays to your project.

Manual work

Now the actual demolition work begins. This is the stage where hazardous materials will be removed. Also, any recyclable or salvageable materials will be collected during this stage of the process.

Mechanical demolition

Once any dangerous and salvageable materials have been removed from the premise, heavy machinery will be used to perform a total demolition of the existing home. Using these machines is the most cost-effective means of knocking down an entire house, and will help keep demolition costs reasonable.

Rubbish Removal

Once your home has been demolished, the leftover debris will need to be removed from the property. This may sound a lot simpler than it is because different demolished materials have different disposal requirements. Be sure this is included in your demolition contract, otherwise, it will be a nasty surprise when you’re left to sort this out yourself.

Demolition Certificate

After your demolition, your contractors need to provide you with a demolition certificate that you will forward to your builder to show the project is complete. From there, you’ll be ready to start the rebuilt part of your knockdown rebuild.

How do you estimate the cost of home demolition?

While you’re unlikely going to be able to accurately guess the price to the cent, you can get a rough idea of what demolition will cost for your home. Most companies charge by the square metre (or square foot overseas), so if you know the house area of your home, you can at least get a ballpark figure of what it might cost.

There is also the option of having contractors come out and offer you obligation-free quotes, which allows you to have an official estimate without having to commit.

Factors impacting the cost to demolish a house

Size of your home

As you might expect, the more house there is to knock down, the more it will cost. Many demolition companies charge by the square metre, so however you cut it, a larger house will be more expensive to knock down.

Hazardous materials

A hazardous material is not to be taken lightly and will require an expert team and specialised equipment to remove them. Asbestos removal is the major concern in this category. If your home was built between 1920-1950, there is about a 50% chance it may contain this substance, and we can’t emphasize enough, you should never try to remove asbestos yourself. Even experienced builders will hire specialist removalists to handle this job.

Unfortunately, it’s not cheap with costs involved reaching as high as $10,000. However, best for you and your family to remove any asbestos from your home for health and safety reasons.

Trees, shrubs & vegetation

Tree removal is often a necessity when it comes to a knockdown rebuild, and how much it costs will depend on the size of the job. Some of the key factors that will influence the cost include:

  • how big is the tree is
  • the location
  • how safe it is to remove the tree
  • any complications that will make the task more difficult.

Here is a guide to what to expect price-wise when it comes to removing trees:

Small Trees (under 10 metres): $300-3000

Medium Trees (10-20 metres): $500-$4,000

Large Trees (over 20 metres): $12,000-$20,000

Quality of block access

The demolition process requires machinery and equipment and your location can influence the price. If you live outside of a metro area, particularly if you’re in a rural area, the extra travel is likely going to show up on your bill. Though not common in Australia, if you happen to have a basement, this will add to your overall cost.

Building materials involved

Beyond hazardous materials, the actual material used in your house can make a difference to the demolition process and, therefore, the cost. A timber house is easier to demolish than other materials like brick and concrete.

In Brisbane, it costs on average $44/m2 to knock down a wooden framed house, whereas for a brick house, that jumps up to $51/m2. To give you a rough idea of the difference that will make, say two houses are both 195 square meters in the house area, one made of timber, the other brick. The brick house will cost an extra $1,365 to demolish than the timber home would.

Condition underneath home foundations

A project as big as a knockdown rebuild will affect the foundation of your property. It’s important to perform soil tests and surveys both before and after the demolition to keep track of the land and catch any potential foundation issues.

Council fees

Whether you like them or not, you always need to abide by council regulations or guidelines if you don’t want to get in strife down the track. Some local councils require you to pay for a demolition permit before you can carry out a knockdown. From our experience, this usually costs between $350-750, depending on the area. However, as we’ve said many times, every local council has their own rules and quirks, so always double-check before carrying anything out.

Utility disconnection fees

Before demolition can commence, you’ll need to disconnect all utilities, including electricity, plumbing and telephone from the property. Usually, this can take between 2-7 weeks, so it’s best to plan this several weeks in advance. While it’s up to a demolition company to check if all utilities have been disconnected before they proceed, it may fall on you to organise these disconnections. You’ll definitely be the one covering any disconnection fees that come with this.

Cleanup and disposal of building materials

Once the house is demolished, the debris and materials are going to need to be taken away. The cost can range between $250-1,700 depending on a variety of factors including the amount that needs to be taken away, the type of material and the location and accessibility of the property. Sometimes, demolition companies will hire another contractor to help transfer the debris which may or may not be billed to you.

Demolition contractor costs

Each company will have their own fee structure, but it’s important to note every project is also different. The price your mate got for knocking down their house won’t necessarily be the same for you, even if you hire the same company. Some jobs may need more workers or outside contractors (asbestos removal, rubbish removal, etc.)

Our tips to help you save money on your house demolition.

  • Be organised: make sure you have everything sorted on time. This includes disconnecting utilities and getting permits. Not having these things sorted on time can lead to delays, which can be pricey. Building costs enough already without having to pay avoidable extras like this.
  • Compare companies: Even if the first contractor you speak to is a top bloke and ticks all the right boxes, there’s no harm in seeing who else is out there and getting a few quotes together.
  • Check what your quote covers: building on the previous tip, make sure to check what exactly your quote includes.

Do you need council approval to demolish a house?

Yes. For any demolition, you’ll need to obtain demolition approval, which your building contractor may be able to assist you with.

There are a few factors that may stand in the way of your getting approval for your demolition or may even completely rule out a knockdown. Those are as follows:

  • Your home is heritage listed
  • Your neighbourhood plan doesn’t allow demolitions
  • The site you’re planning to perform demolition on is on the local heritage register
  • Anything that makes the project more complicated in any way.

When you’re demolition company has a look at your site, they should be able to provide an accurate estimate of how long they will take.

How long does it take to knock down a house?

The actual house demolition itself (also known as the bit where they knock down your house) will usually only take a day or two to complete. The factors that will influence how long it takes are pretty similar to the things that affect cost including:

  • Size of the hose
  • The materials of the house
  • The location of the house and accessibility to the site
  • The presence of any hazardous materials.

Is it cheaper to knock a house down and rebuild or renovate?

How could knocking down a house and rebuilding possibly be cheaper than renovating? Well, renovating is an unpredictable gamble, where you may discover your project is a lot bigger than your expected. For example, you may discover structural damage to your home or asbestos both of which can cost a small fortune to solve.

So, should you renovate or go all in with a knockdown rebuild?

You should go with a renovation if:

  • You’re only changing a small part of the house (don’t knock down your house if you just want to re-tile the bathroom).
  • You like the existing structure of your home.
  • Your home is heritage listed or restrictions are preventing a knockdown rebuild.

A knockdown rebuild is your best bet if:

  • You want to completely change your home.
  • You want a new house but love the area you’re in.
  • There’s a property that’s perfect but you don’t want the current house built there.

Get free advice from an experienced building broker

Buildi is here to help you throughout your building journey. From finding the perfect builder for your project to ensuring every detail on your contract is delivered, we’ll save you time, frustration and money on your next build.

Book your free, impartial consultation today!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Building a Home

Knockdown Rebuild

Home designs

Advice & inspiration

Building a Home

Knockdown Rebuild

Home designs

Advice & inspiration