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Building Demolition Costs and Services

Building demolition costs and services vary considerably depending on the size and scale of the structure you're knocking down. The rough average is about £7,500 for a small house, up to around £20,000 for a larger home.

It's essential you collate numerous quotes from local demolition experts when researching the cost to demolish a building to ensure you're getting value for money, and check that services such as waste removal are included in the price!

Need a Reliable Quote for Building Demolition Costs and Services? Fill in your details in the below form, and we'll send over a range of quotes from trusted contractors in your nearby area (it takes about 30 seconds!).

Average Building Demolition Costs and Services

The first step to determining what your demolition will cost is to take a few measurements.

Contractors will need to know the size and volume of the structure to provide a price indication and may ask to organise a site visit to take some exact dimensions.

We'll look later at the factors that influence your building demolition costs but have collated average budgets below as a guide.

Demolition Service Average Cost
Building demolition £30 per square metre
Garage demolition £2,000
Load-bearing wall demolition £1,500
Large house demolition (200 to 250 square metres) £20,000
Medium house demolition (150 to 200 square metres) £12,500
Small house demolition (80 to 120 square metres) £7,500

Some contractors will include the price of labour within their quote.

In contrast, others will quote for the demolition work, with the number of days of labour (times the number of tradespeople) added underneath.

Labour costs can change depending on your location, and are highest in London and the South East, but usually cost from £600 to £2,000.

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Factors That Affect the Cost to Demolish a Building

We've provided some demolition cost averages, but there are many variables and factors that a contractor will ask about before they can give an exact cost - they will also require a site visit to review the nature of the demolition.

The most influential factors in your demolition that will affect the price are discussed below.

The Size of the Building to be Demolished

Larger properties take longer to demolish and will incur higher costs in terms of waste removal and any specialist services such as asbestos disposal.

Demolition projects must comply with several regulations, so the equipment and number of tradespeople will increase with the size of the task.

Demolition Location

As mentioned, properties demolished in London and the South East are often more expensive than elsewhere because of higher waste transportation, insurance and contractor costs.

As an idea, you would expect to pay around 10% more for building demolition in the capital.

Site Accessibility

Many demolitions are required because a property has become derelict or uninhabitable - and is, therefore, more likely to present access issues such as overgrown grounds, uneven pathways or tight access routes.

Access requirements will depend on the demolition methods and equipment, but larger projects often need earthmoving machinery and commercial vehicles such as low loaders for transport.

Sites without wider, straight roads or those with limited access may cost more because the contractor will need to design alternative access or carry out initial works to ensure they can reach the demolition site.

For example, a contractor may have to arrange for old gates or entrance posts to be removed, brambles or heavy overgrowth to be cut back, or debris cleared to permit vehicular access.

Preparation Works Required

Below you will find a step-by-step guide to the demolition process, but this all begins with preparations such as capping utilities.

The more preparatory work required, the higher the cost to demolish a building.

Demolition Method

Your contractor will recommend a demolition method depending on the most suitable options. This approach could be:

  • Manual demolition: slow but safe removal of each part of the structure using hand tools, from the top of the building to the bottom. Manual demolitions are best suited where you expect to recycle or repurpose much of the building materials.
  • Top-down demolition: the contractor can remove each storey of the property one at a time and minimise the space required for machinery. A smaller wrecking vehicle will remove each floor, with the waste transported away before they start on the next.
  • Explosive demolition: explosives are efficient if you need to demolish a large structure such as an old apartment block or factory building. Specialist demolition advice is crucial to ensure the structure is safely destroyed in a controlled manner that protects surrounding properties.

In some cases, it may be possible to combine two demolition strategies, such as removing recyclable materials manually and then using a top-down demolition to remove the remaining shell.


Within the majority of projects, there are credit values. These include ferrous and non-ferrous metals, timber, brick, slates/tiles and other possible salvage items.

howard potter
Hughes and Salvidge

Removing and Disposing of Hazardous Materials

There is a higher probability of hazardous materials, including asbestos, in properties built 30 years ago or more.

Asbestos is found in corrugated roofing, indoor panelling, gutters, ceiling coverings and pipe insulation and must be removed according to strict health and safety regulations.

A site survey will assess whether asbestos is present (if you are unsure) and will add to your demolition cost since this requires expert removal, handling and disposal.

Recovery of Salvageable Materials

Recyclable materials that can be sold or repurposed can lower your building demolition costs because a contractor will reimburse you or reduce your quotation by the equivalent scrap value of all the available materials.

Alternatively, you could instruct your contractor to retain salvage materials and sell them directly to a reclamation yard.

Planning Permission for Demolition Projects

Planning permission isn't normally required for demolition unless you own a listed building or a property within a Conservation Area.

However, that may change depending on the size and location of the structure and the nature of the demolition - if you have a school or hospital nearby, this may also mean you require formal approval.

Demolition projects that will require consent include any projects where the following structure of building type is being knocked down:

  • Unsafe structures.
  • Restaurants, bars or pubs.
  • Concert halls or cinemas.
  • Outdoor statues and memorials.

Alongside planning permission requirements, you will need to consider building regulations, which are separate and mandatory.

The local authority will normally require at least six weeks' notice before demolition work begins and will advise if they have any conditions related to your project.

Demolitions must adhere to the relevant building regulations, particularly where there is a connected water supply or asbestos within the structure.

A professional demolition contractor can support you with the building regulations process and submit a health and safety plan to the appropriate regulatory department, demonstrating how they will approach the demolition and ensure the work is safe for contractors.

What Does a Building Demolition Involve?

Demolishing a building isn't a case of randomly removing parts of the structure until the whole property has been levelled.

Any misjudgements or removal of a supporting beam could cause a structural collapse, which would be an extremely dangerous incident.

There are several procedures and regulations in place that dictate how a demolition proceeds and protect the safety of demolition professionals.

A typical demolition project will follow these steps:\

  • Local authority approval: confirmation from the local authority whether planning permission or other consent is required for your demolition.
  • Building consent: inspections must be organised with an accredited building control surveyor to sign off the finished demolition.
  • Legal factors: if you have a party wall involved with the demolition, you will need to set up a Party Wall Agreement to ensure you have their consent.
  • Surveys: properties built in the 1970s and before should be visited by an asbestos surveyor to determine whether any harmful materials are present.
  • Quotations: complete our quote form to receive pricing from local demolition contractors available to demolish your building.
  • Utilities: ensure that any live utilities (water, gas, drainage and electricity) are capped and safe, without any piping or wiring that poses a hazard.
  • Security: erect fencing and suitable barriers to prevent unauthorised access to the demolition site throughout the work.
  • Scaffolding: most demolitions will require scaffolding to enable contractors to reach the upper levels and roof of the building.

Once these steps are complete, a demolition crew will work methodically through the property, beginning with hazardous materials, using specialist removal and disposal techniques required for asbestos.

Recyclable materials are removed next and can be transported to a recycling processing plant.

Things like doors, windows, timbers and bathroom and kitchen fittings may be either retained for your future build or submitted for recycling.

Finally, the roofing tiles and flashing are removed, followed by structural timbers, rafters and joists.

The bricks or blockwork can then be demolished, followed by concrete slabs, foundations and drainage.

If you want to learn more about building demolition costs and services, why not learn more about whether its cheaper to add on or build from new. It is also advisable to find out whether you need planning permission to demolish and rebuild and what is involved in gutting a house.


Frequently Asked Questions

Next, we'll answer some of the most popular questions about demolishing a property and how much the project should cost.

How Long Does It Take to Demolish a Building?

Demolitions tend to be very speedy if you hire an experienced demolition crew who will be well versed in the correct order of the demolition work.

Most projects take between four and eight days, although this can be longer if you need to demolish a building attached to another, such as a semi-detached or terraced property.

Do I Need Planning Permission to Demolish a Building?

It depends on the property, location and nearby structures. Many demolition projects do not require formal consent because they fall into the remit of permitted development.

However, permitted development is not a universal right and varies between regions and towns. It also does not apply to properties with certain zones, such as Conservation Areas or listed buildings.

The best option is to check with your local authority before work begins, as they can verify how the local planning permission rules apply.

In some cases, structures with protected species nearby are prohibited from demolition or must demonstrate that wildlife has been safely relocated before the building can be demolished.

Terraced or semi-detached properties have additional considerations since a demolition will affect the neighbouring residences or businesses. You will need to budget for support systems to ensure your demolition doesn't have a detrimental impact on other structures.

Can I Demolish a Building Myself, or Should I Hire a Contractor?

Should and could are two different questions!

We'd first mention that demolition can be highly dangerous if not carried out correctly, with the appropriate safety equipment, and in an exact order!

If you have the skills and equipment to demolish a building, you should always contact the local planning office beforehand since health and safety, and building regulations will affect your work.

Although demolition might seem like a task you can accomplish yourself, it isn't a project you should undertake lightly. Any accidents or mistakes could be significantly more costly or even result in serious injury.

Knocking down non-structural walls is normally a more viable project to do yourself, but we would not recommend anybody without demolition experience attempt to take down a building.

Is It Better to Demolish and Rebuild a Property or Renovate?

A lot depends on whether the property as it stands is suitable for your requirements and whether the condition and structural integrity of the building is sound enough to be repaired and renovated.

In some cases, a dilapidated building with severe issues may not be salvageable, in which case a demolition and rebuild may be more cost-effective.

If you are unsure whether a demolition service is the right option, you can consult our demolition experts to receive comparable quotes to determine what sort of budget would be involved.

An architect can also advise on what a rebuild would cost vs a renovation so you can make an informed decision.

How Can I Get Independent Demolition Quotations?

Simple - complete our enquiry form below, and you'll receive back quotations from experienced local contractors who will be happy to provide a pricing indication for your property demolition.

You may need to arrange a site survey to receive an accurate cost, but an initial quotation should give you a good idea about the required budget.