How Much Does It Cost To Demolish A House?

Old, abandoned, dilapidated house being demolished
Old, abandoned, dilapidated house being demolished

If you purchase a condemned home or one that is so old you are going to have to spend a small fortune to make it livable again you may want to consider demolishing the old house and erecting a new one in its place. Sometimes tearing down a house may be your only alternative. Below are some facts and figures about home demolishing costs throughout the United States.

Is the House Worth Salvaging?

If you are not sure whether getting rid of the old home is really your best option you can consult with a building professional. In addition some very old homes may be sitting in a historic district and you would be unable to tear the home down. This information is easily obtainable if you contact the building department in the city the home is in.

Next consider the price of the lot the home is on. Some lots in affluent neighborhoods can be worth a load of money, even if there is no home on the lot. In fact, many neighborhoods that become the “new cool place to live” would be excited to get a new home and attract even more buyers.

What to do Before Tearing down the House

Before doing any demolition you will need to get a permit from your local city or county government. It is not advisable to try a home demolition without a permit. The fines you could face would quickly eat away at your budget.

Check with the gas, water and electric companies to make sure all of the utilities are off. Also find out if there are any lines underground that you need to be cautious of. You may have to wait a couple of days for everyone to send a technician out to disconnect and abandon all utility lines and mark underground lines. It may be wise to check with the local fire department as well in case they require notification.

Make sure you are properly equipped to deal with hazards such as asbestos. Many homes erected prior to 1950 have asbestos insulation and floor tiles. Asbestos abatement may cost you an additional $2 to $3 per square foot to remove. Don’t forget about the lead paint in old homes as well.

Estimated Costs of Complete Tear Down

If you are considering a complete tear down but want to leave the foundation or basement of a home that ranges between 800 to 1,500 square feet you can expect to spend between $3,000 and $8,000 dollars. This is for homes located in areas of the United States that are low cost such as in the Midwest. This estimated price includes debris removal. In areas that are more affluent such as in big cities you can expect to spend between $7,000 and $15,000.

Demolishing a home and removing the foundation or basement will cost a bit more. The price ranges from $10,000 to $25,000 and depends on the materials, whether the home is one or two stories, the rates of local contractors for similar work and how easily the home is accessed. Remember the total cost will increase if there is lead paint or asbestos in the home.

Partial Demolition

If you have a garage that isn’t attached and has outlived its usefulness you can expect to spend between $1,000 up to $10,000 depending on the location and what it is you are tearing down. A porch my cost more than the garage when demolishing because the porch is attached to the home and during demolition care will need to be taken so damage is not done to the rest of the home.


When you tear down something and want to save the materials for use on another project you are deconstructing rather than demolishing. If you deconstruct a home in an affluent state such as California you can easily spend double the cost for deconstruction as you would to demolish. For example a home that would cost $12,000 to demolish will cost about $25,000 to deconstruct. The up side to deconstruction is you could see a considerable tax savings.

Other Costs to Consider

If you are required to get a permit prior to demolition you can expect to pay $25 to $100 for each permit and could go as high as several thousands of dollars. In Chicago, for example, the cost of a permit to demolish an existing home will cost you up to $10,000 for the permit because of their local rules. In addition utility companies may charge for a service call if they have to come out.

Remember when considering whether or not to demolish a home you need to consult with the local government for permits and with the utility companies to abandon all power lines. Demolishing a home can be a great money saver if you have many costly repairs that need done in order to make the dwelling livable once again.


Author: Darren

Darren Urman became a professional writer 15 years ago, when he retired as a building contractor. Darren joined the THF team of writers in July, 2009. He enjoys cooking, writing, and traveling.

13 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost To Demolish A House?”

    1. Are you planning on demolishing a house or building on your property, Amanda? If so, you may want to consider recycling as much of the materials as you can. This would help cut down the costs of the demolition project, as well as help out the environment. For instance, you could recycle the copper in the electrical wiring and any wood could be turned into mulch. Or the wood could possibly be used for other projects, such as raised garden beds or for a dog house.

  1. We’re looking into buying a home in an affluent area that has been abandoned and in a dangerous state of disrepair. I’m interested in demolition. There reports to be lead based paint. Whom do you recommend for this task?

    Lee C.

  2. Hmmm…i have 2 houses and a barn on a lot of 10 acres. Way too much work to fix up and sell, especially in a buyers market. They are perfectly fine to live in, just can’t sell them to buyers who seem to only want absolutely pristine homes and break balls over every meaningless imperfection. A nearby lot of about 3.5 acres sold recently for 170k. So maybe I can demo all these for about 50k and actually sell the land for a profit. I was just planning on skipping town;)

  3. My mother own a house in ft worth texas the neighborhood is a low prioerty area the house has been empty for the past 15 yrs how do I find out the information need to tear the house down

  4. How much would it cost to demolish a house in Hornersville, Mo 63855 on lots 16/17 built from 2 old railroad houses put together to form one small house. Has Abestos and toxic mold. How do we (family) get the proper permits and estimates on how much it would cost us. This belongs to my deceased grandmother then to our father then onto my mother who pass on 2/9/16. Thanks we need your help and advise. Thank you Housing Forum

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