Can You Demo a House Yourself? (Wait Until You Have This)

can you demo a house yourself

Choosing to demo a house yourself has many benefits including cutting down on financial costs and impressing yourself with your deconstruction skills. However, you need to figure out first whether you can legally demo a house yourself.

You are allowed to demo a house yourself as long as you obtain a demolition permit first and don’t perform any demolition tasks that are only delegated to professionals such as operating heavy machinery and cutting certain utility lines. 

Thankfully, you can perform many of the demolition tasks yourself and even include friends and family to help you along the way.

In this blog post, we’ve outlined everything you need to consider when it comes to demolishing a house yourself including:

  • What you need in order to obtain a permit
  • How to demo a house yourself
  • How to demolish a house cheaply, and so much more.

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

Having the proper tools and safety equipment can make any demo project move along more smoothly.

Here are some of our favorite tools from Amazon to have on hand:

1. Estwing Sledge Hammer – Perfect for shattering concrete, rebar, and stone

2. Dewalt Drill – High powered drill for removing all sizes of screws

3. 3M Safety Mask – Because safety first!

What You Need to Demo a House and How Much It Will Cost

Before you being your exciting demolition project, you need to follow the rules and obtain all the necessary requirements outlined by your municipality.

We will let you know exactly what you need and how much it will cost you. 

Do You Need Permission to Demolish a House?

Permission is needed to demolish a house that you must obtain from your municipality. This permission is typically in a form of a demolition permit. If you are caught working without one, the municipality will shut down your project and possibly fine you.

A city enforces that you must obtain a demolition permit to protect yourself and the surrounding area, as demoing a house can be dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken.

To apply for a demolition permit, visit your city’s website. 

Do You Need Prior Approval for Demolition?

You certainly do need prior approval for a demolition project. If you don’t own the property, or if there is more than one owner, you must obtain approval from all parties. You then have to apply for a demolition permit from your city. 

When you apply for your permit you may be required to submit building and electric plans, including the original building permit. If your house does not have a building permit, you still need to apply for a demolition permit. 

Do You Need Permission to Knock Down a House?

You do need permission to knock down a house from your municipality in the form of a demolition permit. To apply for the permit, visit your city’s website or contact the city hall. 

This document from the city of New York outlines important information regarding demolition projects including that the house must be free of asbestos when the city can shut down a demolition project, the fees for a permit, and much more. 

Do I Need a Permit to Demolish My House?

You absolutely need a permit to demolish your house. If you do not obtain one, your city has the power to halt your demo project. The demolition permit will give you the right to demo your house however you like, following code, of course.

A demolition permit is needed for any structure that originally needed a building permit. However, if your house does not have a building permit, you still need a demolition permit. 

It’s possible that whoever built your house did not follow the code by obtaining a building permit but this does not mean that you can cut corners, too.

Do You Need a Permit for Demolition?

A permit is needed whenever a structure is planning to be demolished. This ensures that your house is prepared to be demolished and you have the right resources to demolish the house safely. 

A permit is needed for demolition in these certain situations:

  • A primary structure will be razed or removed from a lot
  • Any accessory structures with utility systems, mechanical systems, hazardous materials, or a basement-type foundation will be raised or removed from a lot
  • A building that is having an additional renovation requires a substantial amount of demolition

How Much Is a Demolition Permit?

The cost of a demolition permit depends on your municipality and the square footage of the house that is being demolished. Typically, the end cost of a demolition permit will set you back between $200 to $400.

For example, in Grand Rapids, Michigan the fee for a demolition permit for one or two-family structures is $225 or $370 for all other structures. In this case, the fee is a flat rate as opposed to a square footage rate that happens in most cities.

You might also enjoy our post on Do You Need a Permit to Demolish a House?

Other Requirments For Demolishing a House

On top of demolition permits, you may be required to obtain other documents before you begin your demolition permit. This all depends on where you live and the extent of your project.

Do I Need a Building Permit to Demo My House?

A building permit is issued by the body responsible for enforcing the building code in your area before a house is allowed to be constructed. It is necessary when you wish to construct, renovate, demolish or change the use of a building. 

You will be required to submit your building permit before you can receive a demolition permit. However, in some cases, a house is improperly built and did not obtain a building permit. 

In this case, you are still required to submit a demolition permit. The municipality will look into why a building permit was not obtained and try to find the information that they need. 

Rules for Demolishing a House

To demolish a house, you must obtain a demolition permit as well as necessary permits from public utility services including electricity utility, water, and sanitation utility, and fire department. 

You may also need permission from traffic police if your house is close to a busy road as the demolition can disturb the flow of traffic, as well as permission from your neighbors so they are aware there will be a disruption. 

Additionally, if you change demolition plans halfway through the project, you must halt the project and obtain permission for the new changes. 

Keep in mind that demolition rules vary from city to city so it is wise to get in contact with your city to learn the specific rules that apply. 

What Is a Section 80 Notice?

The Section 80 Notice (UK only) is a document that you must submit to local authorities to inform them you are intending to demolish the entirety or part of a building. This notice is needed before any demolition project can begin.

The Section 80 Notice is essentially the UK equivalent to a demolition permit in the United States. It is part of the 1984 Building Act that outlines all applicable local authorities must be informed that a demolition project is being planned. It ensures that you have permission to begin the demolition.

Do You Need a Demolition Plan?

A demolition plan is required to receive a demolition permit since it outlines the entire strategic steps to demolish a structure ensuring that the demolisher knows how to safely go about the process.

Preparing a demolition plan can be complicated and you may need to hire a contractor to do it for you. Before doing so, check with your municipality to find out what exactly needs to be in the demolition plan. 

What Should a Demolition Plan Include?

What a demolition plan needs to include depends on your municipality. To ensure that you include everything, you should hire a contractor in your area and create a customized plan together since they will be aware of your local regulations.

In general, your demolition plan needs to include:

  • Precise demolition details
  • Correct labeling
  • Preview after demolition
  • Environmental impact 

You might also enjoy our post on Can You Demo a House With a Mortgage?

How Much Will it Cost To to Demolish Your House

Now that you know what you need to get your demolition project approved, you can start to think of how much the entire project is going to cost you.

How Much Does It Cost to Demolish a House Yourself?

The cost to demolish a house yourself depends on a lot of factors that are hard to generally apply. You may find that most of your costs are fees that you can’t avoid such as hiring professionals to take out utility lines and several necessary inspections.

But once you have all the necessary things out of the way that you can’t avoid, you can save yourself a lot of cost by taking on most of the work yourself. 

Just be sure to follow your local laws that determine what you are allowed to do. 

Ultimately, be prepared to spend at least $20,000 to demolish your house. 

How Much Does It Cost to Tear Down a House and Build New?

The cost to tear down a house and build new can be highly varied depending on the projects but you can expect to pay between $6,000 to $25,000 for demolition and then $125,000 to $500,000 to rebuild. 

If you are building a more modest house, especially in an affordable part of your country, you can expect the total cost to be around $70,000. 

For a more complicated, large-scale house in an expensive part of the country, expect to pay around $500,000 or even more. 

How Much Would It Cost to Demolish a 1200 Sq Ft Home?

The average cost to demolish a 1,200 square foot house can cost anywhere between $5,000 to $18,000. This depends if you live in a rural area or city and if you require a lot of heavy machinery and professional help.

Your cost will be higher if you live in a city because more permits and inspections will be likely required as well as a higher cost of professional help. If you are planning to demolish a house in a rural area, you can expect your cost to be lower. 

How Do You Price a Demolition Job?

A demolition job is typically priced per square foot for the actual physical demolition and the fees will vary depending on the status of your house and where it is located, with less cost associated with houses in rural areas compared to a city.

Considering these factors, you can expect to spend anywhere between $5 and $15. Knowing the exact square footage of your house will help a lot in determining your cost.

The costs of your permits will also be higher if you live in a city and less if you live in a rural area. 

How Cheaply Can You Demolish a House?

You can keep your demolition costs on the low side by adopting creative demolition solutions including donating the materials of your house and hiring vocational colleges to practice their demolition skills on your house.

For example, the city of San Jose in California has a Construction and Demolition Diversion Program that will partially reimburse the cost of your demolition if you prove that you recycled some of your building materials instead of putting them in landfills.

If you need heavy machinery to bulldoze your house, you can think of asking a vocational college to use your project as practice. This will save you the cost of expensive professionals, especially if you live in a city.

You might also enjoy our post on Do You Need a Permit to Build a Treehouse?

How to Prepare Your House For Demolition

Before you get out the big guns, you have to prepare your house for demolition first. Making sure your house is properly prepared will ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

How Do You Prepare a House for Demolition?

Preparing a house for demolition is crucial to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. You need to address several factors, make preparations, and gather all the tools that you will need.

Initially, you need to contact your lender if you have an existing mortgage on your house and discuss your demolition options. If you are unsure of how to approach this situation, you should do some research first before approaching your lender. 

Once you have all of that sorted, you can prepare your house by removing your furniture and belongings including fixtures, decorations, and appliances. 

You then need to shut off your utilities, making sure all water, electrical, and gas lines are properly shut off and secured. You may need to hire professionals to ensure everything is fully disconnected properly. 

Finally, regardless of how you are demolishing your house, you should have a roll-off dumpster on-site to dispose of all the debris.

Once all the debris is cleaned up, the business that you rent the dumpster from will haul it away. 

What Tools Do I Need For a Demolition?

Whether you are demolishing your house by hand or with heavy machinery, having the right tools will make the job much easier and protect you from common safety hazards that are present on construction sites.

Here are some tools we recommend you have for any demolition project:

How Do You Demolish a House?

Once you have all of your permits and other documents gathered, you have set aside cash for the project, and your house is perfectly prepped, it’s time to get the show on the road! Here we are going to tell you exactly how to demolish a house.

How to Demolish a House

Before you start demolishing your house, you need to decide if you want to use heavy machinery to do it or if you want to do it by hand. Using heavy machinery may cost you more but it will be a lot faster.

Once you decide on that, start by removing all your furniture and personal belongings out of your house, including appliances and any materials you want to save.

You then need to disconnect any existing services such as electricity, water, sewage, and gas.

You may need to hire a professional to disconnect some of your services specifically electricity and gas as these utilities can be dangerous to handle on your own and also may affect your neighbor’s services. 

Once you have covered these steps, you are ready to tear down your house either by hand or mechanically.

Remove all debris from the site once the house is torn down either recycling the materials or properly disposing of them in a dumpster. 

How Do You Demo a House?

To demo a house, you first have to obtain the appropriate permits, inform your neighbors and the city, and contact your lender if you have an existing mortgage. Once you complete these tasks, you are ready for the teardown!

To get started, you should decide if you want to demo your house either by hand or with the help of machinery. Tearing down your house by hand can certainly save you some cash but will be a lot of hard work and time.

On the other hand, choosing to use heavy machinery can cost you but you will have the job done in a day and can get starting on building the house of your dreams. 

Whichever way you decide, make sure you remove all of your belongings and any materials you want to salvage. Also, turn off all utility services. You may need to hire some professionals to ensure everything is turned off properly to protect your safety.

You are now ready to begin the teardown. Start by removing all hard surfaces such as kitchen counters and cabinets, bathroom counters, and showers or baths.

You can then move to ripping up the floors such as tiles and hardwood, followed by the walls. 

Once you get to the basement foundation, you will definitely need heavy machinery to rip up the cement and place it into the proper disposal.

After your house is completely torn down, ensure that you dispose of all of your materials either in recycling or a dumpster and start preparing your land for the rebuild. 

You might also enjoy our post on Do I Need a Permit to Run a Gas Line?

What Is the Process of Demolition?

You can choose to demolish your house either by hand or using heavy machinery. Tearing it down by hand is a much lengthier process but will save you money in the long run. Using heavy machinery is faster but can cost you a pretty penny.

How to demolish a house by hand:

  1. Tear down drywall
  2. Remove doors and frames
  3. Repeat process in all bedrooms
  4. Begin bathroom demolition
  5. Tackle the laundry and utility rooms
  6. Deconstruct the kitchen and dining room

How to demolish a house with heavy machinery:

  1. Rent the equipment you need
  2. Secure the area
  3. Tear the house down
  4. Clean up the debris 

Can I Tear Down My Own House?

You are allowed to tear down your house once you have the appropriate permits from all local authorities. Whether you want to tear down your house by hand or use heavy machinery, you are allowed to go about however you like as long as you follow code.

Hiring a demolition crew is the safest and fastest way to tear down a house since they are experienced but it will cost you more than doing it yourself, of course.

If you choose to do it yourself, you may be surprised with how much you are capable of!

Related Questions

Do I Need a Permit to Demolish My Garage?

A demolition permit is required to demolish your garage, even if you have a demolition permit for your house already- you need to apply for two separate permits. 

To apply for a demolition permit for your garage, you need to have the original building permit for your house that includes the construction of the garage.

A permit is needed because a garage can house utility lines that are dangerous if improperly handled, including many other safety factors. 

What Is Demolition Safety?

Demolition safety refers to the precautions that should be recognized to protect yourself from certain safety hazards that commonly arise on demolition sites. 

Five safety precautions you should take for demolitions include:

  1. Equipment – You should always wear a hard hat, safety goggles, a mask, gloves, and work boots.
  1. Final sweep – Ensure that everyone and everything is out of the house before you begin demolition.
  1. Experienced and trained employees – Qualified, professional, mature, experienced professionals should handle the more dangerous and explosive materials. 
  1. Brace ceilings and walkways – All ceilings and walkways should be braced while anyone is in the structure during the demolition process.
  1. Cleaning up debris – Make sure everyone who is cleaning up debris is wearing proper safety equipment.

Final Thoughts

Whether or not you choose to demo your house yourself, always ensure:

  • The proper requirements have been submitted
  • You have given notice to everyone who will be affected

The last thing that you want to make sure of is that your dreams for your next house are vivid and exciting, in order to keep you motivated through the whole demolition process.

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