house demolition cost

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How much does house demolition cost per M2 in the UK?

Demolishing a property in the UK varies in terms of project size, building type and complexity, with an average house demolition costs ranging from £7,000 to £30,000. Per square metre, the average demolition price is around £115 per square metre.

Need Comparable House Demolition Quotes From Approved Local Contractors? Complete our user-friendly quotation request form, and we'll match your requirements with up to four local approved contractors with the skills and expertise to complete your demolition project.

Prices drop considerably for smaller-scale demolitions, with a load-bearing wall costing £1,000 to £2,000 and a single garage £1,000 to £3,000 - the specifics in your demolition specification will influence your total house demolition costs.

The service is 100% free of charge, and there is zero obligation, so you can request as many quotes as you would like or revisit the form if you want to explore varying alternatives!

In this guide, we'll explain the varied factors that impact the price of a demolition, how much a project should cost per square metre, and what to expect from your contractor quotations.

Average House Demolition Costs Per M2 in the UK

House demolitions should always be carried out by professional contractors with the right equipment and knowledge to complete the work safely.

There are numerous laws and regulations around demolition methods, the safety of structural alterations and waste disposal, all of which an established demolition provider will take care of.

In the table below, you'll find some indicative costs per square metre depending on the size of the property you'd like to demolish.

Demolition Project Average Cost Per Square Metre Average Price
Small house of 80 square metres £80 - £115 per square metre £7,800
Small house of 120 square metres £80 - £115 per square metre £11,700
Medium house of 160 square metres £80 - £115 per square metre £15,600
Medium house of 200 square metres £80 - £115 per square metre £19,500
Large house of 220 square metres £80 - £115 per square metre £21,450
Large house of 250 square metres £80 - £115 per square metre £24,380

Prices are based purely on square meterage and will vary where there are hazardous substances, complex structures, greater preparatory work or other challenges specific to your demolition.

If you would like more precise demolition estimates, we'd recommend using our free quote request form below to receive back quotations from local contractors who will have a clearer idea about the requirements involved.

Checkout this timelapse video of a typical house demolition in the UK:

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Small Structure Demolition Costs Per M2

Demolishing a smaller building, such as a garage, is an easier prospect. If you have a very basic structure without any specific requirements, it might be possible to undertake the work yourself.

However, older garages tend to incorporate asbestos within corrugated roofing sheets and panels, which you cannot safely remove.

Waste removal is always a service that you'll need to outsource, even if the demolition is relatively minor since regulations around the legal transport of building waste and the appropriate disposal methods are strict.

Even for smaller demolitions, it is usually cheaper and faster to hire a local professional rather than attempting the demolition and needing to hire a contractor to deal with potentially hazardous materials and the waste disposal process.

It is common to decide to demolish an older garage that isn't of sufficient size to accommodate a modern vehicle. You might want to use that extra space to expand your internal living area and knock through the old external wall to create a new room.

In this case, we'd also recommend you use a skilled contractor since demolishing a partial building or part of a load-bearing wall is a delicate and methodical task that requires a great deal of preparation.

As an indication of the demolition costs for smaller structures or garages, we've used the UK average prices to compile the following estimates.

Small Building Demolition Project Average Cost Per Square Metre Average Cost
Six by three metres - 18 square metres £55 - £165 £2,000
Eight by four metres - 32 square metres £55 - £165 £3,500
Five by six metres - 30 square metres £55 - £165 £3,300
Eight by six metres - 48 square metres £55 - £165 £5,320
Five by nine metres - 45 square metres £55 - £165 £5,000
Seven by nine metres - 63 square metres £55 - £165 £6,930

Part of the reason it is so much cheaper to demolish a smaller or more basic structure per square metre is that there are less likely to be utility supplies such as electric wires, gas cables or water pipes.

Outbuildings and small standalone properties without drainage are easier to demolish since a contractor will not need to schedule subcontractors to come and isolate or disconnect services before they can begin work.

Therefore, if you have a very small house or cottage, the demolition costs will usually be somewhere between the two. You may have double-skin brick walls with insulation and utilities, but the extent of the demolition and structural considerations will be less extensive than for a larger property.

Factors Impacting Your House Demolition Costs

We've given estimated prices per square metre, based on size, which is one of the main cost drivers in calculating your house demolition costs.

However, the cubic size of a home or property is just one of many factors that a contractor will need to understand before they can offer a confirmed demolition quotation.

Next, we'll look at each contributing element, in turn, to explain why your contractor may ask questions or require additional information.

Demolition Location

Properties in difficult access areas such as rural countryside with narrow roads, homes located down uneven tracks, or residences in built-up city areas command extra demolition costs due to the difficulty of reaching the building with the standard heavy-duty demolition equipment.

If a contractor needs to hire specialist tools, switch from a top-down to a manual demolition, apply for permits, cover congestion zone charges or carry out preparations to improve the site access, it will add to your budget.

Areas also dictate average labour and tradesperson costs. If you live in the southeast and London in particular, you'll normally pay about 10% more than in UK regions where staffing and running costs are lower.

Preparatory Work

Aside from access, there are several different tasks a contractor may need to complete before they can move on to the demolition.

For example, they might need to cap utility supplies, shore up neighbouring structures, clear the land around the building or wait for scaffolding to be erected.

Demolition Method Used

Most UK demolitions follow one of three processes, although these can be combined depending on the type of home and which demolition approach is best suited.

  • Manual or hand demolitions are a little slower than mechanical demolition but are preferable where the structure is less stable or where you want to preserve some of the materials. You might use a manual demolition for a smaller project or where you wish to recycle the bulk of the materials. The contractor strips back the structure one level at a time, from the top of the building to the bottom.
  • Top-down demolitions are the most common option for full house demolitions because they use a wrecking ball or machine to remove a storey at the time, with controls in place to avoid debris from falling outside a containment zone. This demolition method is relatively quick but may be unsuitable - for example, if you have an attached neighbouring structure.
  • Explosive demolitions are primarily used for large projects where you wish to knock down a commercial or multi-storey building.

A contractor might recommend a mix-and-match approach, potentially removing recyclable or salvageable materials by hand and then deploying a top-down demolition for the remainder of the property.

Dangerous Materials

If you're planning to demolish a home that hasn't had an asbestos survey conducted in the last few years, this will likely be required before a contractor can quote.

While asbestos is far from the only potential hazardous material you'll find in a UK home, it is the most common. You will need to be certain whether or not this is present within your structure before demolition work begins.

Homes built as recently as the 1990s may have asbestos hidden inside a range of features, such as:

  • Artex ceiling plaster
  • Piping insulation
  • Corrugated roof panels
  • Panelling
  • Guttering

It is a legal requirement to use a specialist contractor to demolish any property with asbestos because there are regulations relating to handling, PPE, waste transport and disposal.

Demolition Contractor Affiliations

Unfortunately, demolition is one of those sectors which attracts a proportion of 'cowboy' organisations who offer incredibly cheap services - but bypass a great deal of the safety precautions and safe disposal requirements a competent contractor will follow.

Although it will inevitably cost more to use a certified demolition provider, it is essential you avoid using an unqualified, unregistered and unaccredited company that may do more damage than good.

You can verify whether your shortlisted contractors are registered with the National Federation of Demolition Contractors. However, all of the providers we recommend have passed through a pre-approval process, including evidence of professional indemnity insurance.

Materials Available to Reuse or Salvage

Property materials are in high demand, so if you have a range of materials within your home, it may not be necessary to pay waste disposal charges for everything.

An approved demolition contractor can advise which items, such as brickwork, radiators, slate roofing tiles, or copper wiring, hold commercial value and can be resold rather than disposed of as scrap.

Planning Permission and Building Regulations for a UK House Demolition

The next aspect to consider is planning permission and the rules and restrictions related to your planned demolition.

Most demolitions do not require full planning approval, aside from properties inside a conservation area or listed buildings with a separate subset of rules and requirements.

However, some demolitions might require permission, depending on the scope of the demolition, the size of the building, and any neighbouring structures such as schools, railway lines or hospitals.

It is well worth contacting your local planning office before you begin a demolition project to ensure you don't need to work through the planning permission process - this normally applies if you'd like to knock down:

  • A building considered structurally unsafe.
  • Outdoor statues or memorials.
  • A commercial establishment such as a bar, restaurant, cinema, pub or theatre.

Once you have clarified whether or not planning permission applies, you'll also need to think about building regulations - although an accredited contractor may be able to self-certify the quality of their work or liaise with the local Building Control office on your behalf.

Building regulations apply in all cases, whether or not you need planning permission, and set out a series of requirements in terms of things like fire safety, structural integrity, removal of asbestos and preventing water ingress.

Adjoining Properties

Most demolitions concern a standalone building or structure that won't impact any other property - although the proximity of nearby homes will dictate the appropriate demolition method your contractor uses.

However, if your house is terraced or semi-detached, you need to establish a dialogue with your neighbours before you can knock anything through.

In some cases, a neighbour will be happy to provide written consent after an informal conversation. In others, you will need to hire a party wall surveyor to negotiate terms and pass through a legal agreement before you can begin the work.

The House Demolition Process

If you haven't managed a house demolition before, it's helpful to understand what is involved and why a demolition contractor will follow a specific pattern of activities.

Although this may vary with the type of building and the layout of your home, most demolitions will progress through the following steps.

  • Seeking clarity that no special permissions are required.
  • Confirmation that relevant approvals or agreements are in place with neighbouring property owners and the local Building Control office.
  • Booking a reputable demolition contractor with specialist handling experience to deal with any dangerous materials such as asbestos.
  • Utility disconnections, capping pipes and rendering the site safe to work on, including sewage, drainage, gas, electricity and water.
  • Installing scaffolding and security fencing to protect the integrity of the site.
  • Internal strip-outs, removing plumbing, kitchens, cables, radiators and bathrooms.
  • Removing doors, glazing and any timber beams or struts, followed by lead flashing and roof tiles or slates.
  • Dismantling the structural supports, such as the ceiling or floor joists, stud work, trusses, and rafters holding up the roof.
  • Demolishing the walls, bricks or blockwork parts of the property.
  • Knocking apart concrete slabs underneath the home, followed by old drainage systems and the foundations.

Demolition projects vary considerably depending on the size of the home and how many tradespeople or labourers need to be involved.

As a rough guide, a straightforward demolition can take up to around four days, although you'll need to budget two weeks or so for a three-bedroom detached property.

Semi-detached or terraced homes take longer to demolish because your contractor will need to install structural supports to avoid damage to the integrity of the neighbouring buildings - these projects often take around three weeks.

Reasons to Consider Demolishing a House

It may be obvious that you need to go for a house demolition if you own a dilapidated, currently uninhabitable property that would cost an excessive amount to bring into good condition.

Some of the key indicators that a demolition may be preferable to a renovation are outlined below - but if you're unsure, you can also contact an experienced contractor to ask for advice and price comparisons to help you make an informed decision.

Homes in Very Poor Condition

Homes that have buckled foundations, subsidence, unsafe structural supports or huge cracks running down the walls may not be viable to renovate or repair.

If the underlying foundations are not safe, it can be impossible to rebuild the property above. In this case, a demolition and rebuild is likely the safest and most viable option.

Expensive Renovation Costs

Homeowners that would need to conduct large-scale renovations to bring a property into a habitable condition may need to weigh up the pros and cons of demolishing if the renovation budget is spiralling into an amount that is worth more than the home's market value.

Selling a Disused Property or Plot of Land

In some cases, the owner has inherited a property that would be extremely difficult to sell as it stands and might have better prospects if they invest in a full demolition.

Empty land plots are often in high demand, so knocking down the old structure and arranging a site clearance could be more financially attractive than investing heavily in repairs or trying to sell a disused home.

Demolishing a Semi-Detached or Terraced House

Demolishing a detached property is inevitably more seamless than knocking down a home that is terraced or semi-detached, whether or not you intend to build a new structure in place of the old building.

The core requirement is to ensure that you have help from an architect, structural surveyor and demolition expert to create a strategy that will achieve the demolition you require without affecting adjacent properties.

There are several requirements to bear in mind, which will dictate the right demolition approach and the support systems required to guarantee that your demolition will not impede the structural integrity of adjoining homes with connected walls.

The contractor will ask about the age of your home (and those next door if that differs), the condition of the structure, and your plans.

From there, they will examine the impacts of exposed foundations, insulation in shared external walls, potential work required to repair the roofs, and the functions of walls on linked properties following your demolition.

UK homeowners who want to demolish a connected property need to work through the party wall agreement process (or gain written consent), which may involve legal advice and party wall surveyors, which will add to your demolition budget.

However, it is possible to transform a semi-detached home into a detached property, and the uplift in market value may outweigh the cost of the preparatory works required.

It is never advisable to go with the cheapest demolition quote you receive if you have a complex project such as knocking down a property that is semi-detached or terraced - the legal implications, insurance coverage and demolition techniques will vary considerably from those for a detached property.

Please specify whether you wish to demolish a home with adjoining properties in your quote request form, and we'll be sure to match you with local contractors with the expertise you need. If you want to learn more about the individual costs that make up your house demolition costs in full, learn more about the average building and demolition costs per task including tasks like knocking down a load bearing wall and the average waste disposal costs per hour or per skip.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hopefully, you now have a good idea of the average house demolition costs per square metre and all of the factors that will influence your total price.

Below we have answered some of the frequently asked questions about house demolition to clear up any queries you may have.

How Does a Demolition Contractor Calculate the Project Cost?

As we've explained, the first price estimate will probably be based on the property's square footage or meterage since the demolition size and scope are primary pricing factors.

We wouldn't, though, recommend you use this basis to make any financial plans or decisions since the volume of the home is just one of several considerations you need to be mindful of when setting a demolition budget.

For example, contractors will need to know whether your home is terraced or semi-detached, the age of the property, the layout of the structure, and whether you need specialist services such as hazardous material removals.

Can I Demolish a House Myself?

In short, no. Demolition contractors are highly experienced firms with a range of insurances, accreditations, licences and permissions to carry out their work safely and according to UK regulations.

Demolitions are inherently dangerous when conducted without the right tools, equipment or knowledge, so it is never advisable to undertake a demolition yourself unless the structure is a very basic lean-to.

How Long Does the Average House Take to Demolish?

Demolition time scales depend on the scope of the project and how complex the work is, but most take between four and eight working days.

Because the connected properties require additional supports, a semi-detached or terraced property demolition will take a little longer and have other items included in the budget.

Specialist requirements such as handling asbestos and removing other hazardous materials can create extra work and often requires a subcontractor to visit the site and remove any contents or building components before the rest of the demolition can move forward.

Although this could add a few days to the schedule, it is essential that demolitions are safe and follow a range of rules and regulations.

Can I Demolish a Property That Isn't Detached?

You can, although if you're knocking down anything that isn't an independent structure, there will be a few considerations related to party wall agreements and support mechanisms to ensure the demolition doesn't damage the building next door.

Even if you're demolishing a connected garage or annex next to your home, your contractor will need to examine the building and plan for a support system.

It is essential that you make provisions to protect connected buildings, as you have a legal duty to ensure your demolition doesn't cause another property to become structurally unstable.

This rule also applies to excavations. If you are demolishing to build something new and need to dig foundations or want to extend downward into the basement, your contractor will need to implement the same supports.

Party wall agreements are also required (if your neighbour hasn't provided written consent) under the terms of the Party Wall Act.

How Does Asbestos Affect a House Demolition?

Many properties built before the 1990s contain at least some aspect of asbestos since this was regularly used in roof cladding, guttering and insulation.

Asbestos is now recognised as a material that poses a health risk. While you can still demolish the property, your contractor will need to have the asbestos removed safely and disposed of according to the legal requirements.

What Is Included in a House Demolition Quote?

Good contractors will itemise their quote or provide a list of services included within the price, so there aren't any doubts about what the cost covers and any additional options you may wish to add.

As a guide, the below aspects should be shown on any demolition quote, either to confirm they are included or to advise where the homeowner may need to organise separate services:

  • Labour - the number of tradespeople or labourers and the number of days work will vary with different demolitions. Day rates tend to be around £120 to £200 per person, with higher rates payable for skilled professionals or highly experienced demolition experts.
  • Skip hire - most demolitions use a skip to collect the building waste (although you could also book a grab hire truck for a larger scale job). Skips cost around £220 depending on how long the work is expected to take, the capacity of the skip you need, and how many times you need this to be emptied and returned.
  • Waste management - disposal costs will differ between materials, so your contractor will need to estimate the volume or weight of things like brickwork, general rubble, timber and recyclables.

What Is Demolition Insurance - and Do I Need It?

Demolition insurance is a short-term policy you can opt to take out to cover any costs incurred if the building is damaged by something beyond your control, such as severe weather, flooding or fire.

The demolition work plan will include provisions to avoid water ingress and prevent uncontrolled structural collapse. Hence, the cover is there to ensure that you won't need to cover further costs if anything else occurs.

Standard building insurance is unlikely to provide much coverage while you are having the property demolished. Still, it's entirely your choice whether you want the peace of mind of having an additional insurance policy while the work is completed.

In some areas, insurance might be more important than others, such as if you need to comply with planning permission requirements or regulations relating to neighbouring structures, roadways or public access buildings.

Can I Have any Type of Property Demolished?

You can, but your demolition contractor will need to know the nature of the building to plan accordingly for the right demolition method, depending on what the structure is built from and the surrounding environment.

Some demolition teams specialise in residential buildings but might also cover blocks of flats and smaller properties such as garages.

Commercial demolition is used to knock down office buildings, factories, bridges or other plants, so it is normally a different type of project with heavy-duty equipment and often using explosives.

Which Materials From a House Demolition Can I Recycle?

A surprising number of materials common in building demolitions can be recycled, reused or repurposed. Higher-value items can be sold to salvage or builder's reclamation yards, whereas a licensed waste carrier can deposit recyclables at a recycling facility.

It is worth separating materials (or instructing your contractor to do so) because anything of value could reduce the cost of your demolition. Disposal of recyclable materials is significantly cheaper than non-recyclables at a landfill site.

The higher the proportion of materials that you can recycle, the lower the waste removal cost since this will include gate fees for landfill or recycling plants.

You can recycle items such as bricks, tiles, paper and cardboard, timbers, plastics and even plasterboard.

Why Does My Location Affect the Cost of My House Demolition?

Location is a key component of a demolition quote because:

  • Demolitions in city centres are often more complex because of tighter site access for heavy vehicles such as scaffolding lorries, grab hire trucks or skip removal lorries.
  • The closer the proximity of other buildings, the more preparatory work the contractor will need to carry out to protect nearby buildings, pedestrian routes and traffic.
  • Rural sites may incur higher travel costs due to the distance from the nearest demolition depot.

Please include your location in your quote request form, and we will match your demolition requirements with the closest contractors with experience working on properties in your immediate area.