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If you are looking for demolition contractors, we put together a guide on all the costs involved to hire one. We also offer up to 4 free contractor quotes.
When renovating or planning to construct a new structure, we are often concerned with the final result that we often overlook the preliminary steps. We are too focused on that new room, that new floor plan, or the swimming pool addition that we fail to see the importance of demolition. Whenever you want to erect a new structure you have to pull down the existing one. However, most homeowners think demolition is all about tearing things down without realizing there is a method to the madness. The truth is that proper preparation is essential for any project to be a success. And demolition is the most important step in preparation.
Demolition is more intricate than just obliterating everything in sight and it needs to be properly planned like any other construction process. The first step to any demolition project is identifying the hazards which can only be done by providing a contractor with all the information about the building. It should be surveyed to have a clear picture of its nature, and all drawings of the building obtained. Nevertheless, some common hazards during any demolition project are.
Communication – There are often several parties involved in a demolition. There is the client, the general contractor and specialized personnel e.g. lead and asbestos removalist. Miscommunication puts the workers at the risk of exposure to hazardous materials, falling objects, or collapsing elements.
Unstable projects – Workers should never be allowed into any structure before its integrity has been established. Buildings can collapse unexpectedly owing to weather elements or as a result of the ongoing demolition burying workers in the process.
Something else to generally look out for is hazardous materials. Most buildings marked for demolition often contain materials such as lead and asbestos. These can cause cancer and even death. The building or the ground could also be housing pests, which can be harmful. Excrete from rats, pigeons, and rats is common in most structures and workers should be careful not to be exposed.
Utility lines – Finally, services such as water, sewerage, gas, and electricity may not have been appropriately cut. They should be checked, marked, and any issue resolved before demolition starts. Accidentally hitting those lines can lead to flooding, fires, and electric shocks.
Other than these general risks there are other work-related hazards.
There are instances where workers will have to take down the building bit by bit. This involves doing manual work at elevated levels which is a rather dangerous affair. They are at the risk of falls from heights, slipping, electric wires and constrained postures.
Also, knocking down buildings needs heavy machinery such as excavators. In the process, the buildings can become unstable owing to the overload and destruction of some of the support structures. If not properly planned, the building can collapse and injure or cause unprecedented damage. A demolition ball can also get trapped in the process and disentangling it can be dangerous especially if it a worker has to climb up.
You also have to contend with the dust raised during demolition and find a way to work through it.
There is also the noise and vibration from the hand tools, explosives, machines and falling objects. These can be a nuisance to the neighborhood.
The explosives used to bring down buildings can affect a wide area. Also, some charges might not go off and the structure might not have collapsed all the way. You now have to contend with the danger of explosives and an unstable structure.
Finally, you might be interested in a soft demolition. Say you are only interested in a kitchen or bathroom remodel. You need to be certain that you are getting rid of all the junk but not getting carried away.
Having identified the various hazards associated with demolition, you or the contractor has to take the necessary steps to protect the workers and employees. First, always determine who will be exposed to which hazards, to what extent, and then identify the appropriate prevention measures. Deciding on prevention should be hierarchical to with the most effective measures being considered first. For instance, avoidance should be considered before a lesser effective method such as protective gear. A systematic approach too should be used to ensure that all aspects of the demolition are covered.
There is more to demolition than knocking down houses. However, here we will look at how to tear down a house. Though it can be intimidating when you think of DIY demolition, it is achievable with a small team of assistants, the enthusiasm to learn, and willingness to get your hands dirty.
Apply for and obtain all permits from your local authorities. You might have to acquire several permits depending on your jurisdiction. Be vigilant and find out if there is any hazardous material on your structure that you need to acquire authorization for.
You want to contact your utility company before you start demolition. There is more to cutting utility lines and not simply tearing them as you please. All water, gas, sewerage, and electricity lines have to be cut properly at a junction away from your home. By contacting the utility lines, you reduce the risk of flooding your property, the risk of fire and electric shocks.
You want to examine your property for any toxic substances. Most old houses contain asbestos, lead, silica dust, etc., which have to be professionally removed. Demolishing your home without getting rid of these first puts you, your workers and neighbors at risk. Invite inspectors to check for the hazardous materials and contract specialists to remove them if any are present in your home.
Safety is an important step during any construction process. It should also be a top priority during demolition, and you can achieve a high level of security by restricting access to the demolition site. If you are on a tight budget, you can use a caution tape. However, there is still easy access to your property. An intruder might be damaged on your property which might lead to legal action. For more security, hire interlocking portable fences from a contractor or suppliers.
Once you have cut the utility lines, secured the site, and ensured that all hazardous materials have been professionally removed, you can move on to demolish the house. Hire an excavator and begin caving the walls. Caving is the fastest way to bring a house down as the building will collapse on its own. You want to take the quickest approach as it saves you rental time lowering your costs. Next, break down larger pieces using the excavator scoop.
Next, you want to get rid of the scrap. Rent one or several garbage containers and scoop the waste into it. Ensure the pieces aren’t too for efficient space usage. When filling the containers, ensure there are no pockets inside them and that they are filled completely. The more you can put in each bin reduces the number of bins you need lowering the costs.
Often times demolition contractors use the same demolition machines to prepare the site. You want to grade and level the site before taking back the excavator. The excavator can also be used for basement excavation for the next project.
Going by the above DIY guide, demolishing a house sounds like a piece of cake. Well, it isn’t. What happens if you want to use some of the materials for reconstruction? How will you handle some of the challenges that might arise? This is where hiring a professional pays off.
To avoid any of the hurdles above and stay away from the risks, homeowners should engage the services of a professional. Though wrecking is their occupation, they are trained in these matters and employ a lot of science and skill to ensure they pull it off smoothly. They are well equipped to remove concrete, cut steel, remove underground tanks, and strip interiors.
Below are some more advantages why you should hire a professional demolition company.
Demolition can be a headache. There is too much to take care of and can be overwhelming for an amateur. Hiring a contractor will save you the trouble. One area of concern is the safety. It is always the top priority when pulling down any structure. If not done correctly, the rubble might damage surrounding property, and it will be upon you, the homeowner, to handle the repairs. You want to avoid such incidences and you can do so by hiring a professional.
Qualifications – Demolition is more than knocking structures down. There is a lot of skill and subtle science to it. Therefore, for the best results, engage a professional. They are trained to bring down structures safely and within a set time-frame. Also, they have a vast experience and good relationships with dealing with sub-contractors. These relationships are vital especially when trying to get specialists.
Site preparation – One and perhaps what is the best advantage of hiring professionals is their ability to remove scrap and make a site secure to work. But beyond the debris, they ensure that the work area is healthy as well. Most demolition contractors are licensed to handle toxic materials. They can conduct biohazard remediation, test groundwater, and even replace the soil if it’s contaminated.
Finally, most of these companies are recognized by the government. They are licensed to demolish property, and you don’t have to apply for extra permits from the authorities. If you do, most firms will take care of it.
When looking into demolition, you should be aware of the various methods of demolition. The information will help you choose what’s best for you. You can talk to a contractor about the best approach to bring down a structure.
Crane and wrecking ball – One of the earliest demolition methods, crane and wrecking ball used the force of gravity to knock buildings down. It’s rather an obsolete method though and people now rely on mechanical methods which are more effective, precise, and safer.
Implosion – Implosion is a highly-specialized method to bring down buildings. It is not a widely used method owing to the skills required and the threat explosive pose. Explosives are used to undermine the support of any structure and thus it can tumble at a predetermined angle or on its footprint.
Mechanical demolition – The most commonly used method of demolition, mechanical demolition uses specialized tools such as hydraulic excavators, with tools that can cut steel and break concrete. There is also some smaller equipment to for interior and selective demolition.
Also known as partial demolition, soft demolition involves the selective removal of interior or exterior parts. You can also be interested in partial demolition if you want, to keep part of the structure. It is also often the case if you want to renovate your house. A soft demolition is often more expensive than total/hard demolition. The reason for this is contractors have to be careful not to damage the structure. Also, they have to employ special techniques to do as little harm to the structure as possible. As for the costs, expect to pay between $1,000 for smaller projects and up to $70,000 for more substantial work.
In most circles, deconstruction and demolition are used interchangeably. However, they refer to two distinct activities. While demolition is removing what is no longer needed in a house, deconstruction is a more deliberate and slow process. It is a controlled action where a building is taken down piece by piece. It involves the removal of fittings such as doors, windows, lumber, flooring appliances, etc., for reuse. It’s like construction just that the steps are backwards. The general idea during deconstruction is to leave only the structure for demolition. Expect to pay around $24,000 for deconstruction or 25% to 50% more than total demolition. However, you can get about $10,000 in tax benefits by donating the debris.
Total demolition is the complete removal of a structure. The cost for a total demolition is between $14,000 and $30,000. It is cheaper than both deconstruction and partial demolition as it is highly mechanized and takes very little time. There is nothing much to it other than ensuring the utility lines are properly cut, and that you have secured all relevant documents.
Selective demolition involves taking down a part of a structure while protecting the other parts.
After the demolition of any property, there is a lot of debris, some of which can be salvaged. This is not like deconstruction which is a more deliberate process. Most companies will pay you to keep the salvageable pieces which they go on to sell to private buyers. These are items such as kitchen cabinetry, appliances, fittings, etc.
The cost for site cleanup is often included in the total demolition cost. However, there are instances where the contractor might not have included. Expect to pay around $500 for basic clean-up. However, you will have to fork out more money if there is environmental cleanup to make the site healthy.
There are also some additional considerations.
Foundation repair or removal – During partial removal, you might want to retain the foundation. However, it might not be in top conditions and need repair. Expect to pay between $5,000 and $7,000. Repair might need the foundation to be reinforced and the techniques used drive the cost up. Removal, on the other hand, is a more straightforward process and it will set you back between $1,000 and $4,000.
Site-grading – After a total demolition, you might need the site leveled as part of preparation. The cost is often about $1,000 and $1,800 for 1000 square feet.
|According to Demolition Type
|$1,000 - $70,000
|$14,000 - $30,000
|$5,000 - $7,000
|$1,000 - $4,000
|$1,000 - $1,800
|According to House Part
|$3,000 - $9,000
|$30 -$50/ sq. ft.
|$2,700 - $19,000
|$4 -$5/ sq. ft.
|$4,000 - $10,000
|$50 -$100 an hour
|$400 - $9,000
Seeing as most homeowners are interested in partial demolition, here is a simple cost guide of how much it will cost to demolish a certain part of the house.
This can either be an attached or detached garage. When knocking down part of a garage, there will be wiring and plumbing considerations. It can be anything from tearing the ceiling to access the wiring, or removing the drywall but retaining the frame. Either way, you have to contend with electrical and wiring. This brings the cost to between $2 and $6 per square foot or roughly $3,000 to $9,000 depending on the size of the garage.
If you have a rickety ground floor deck you are advised to install a new one. Nevertheless, you have to tear down the previous deck. It will set you around $30 per square foot but the cost increases to about $50 per square foot if the deck is raised owing to the height and the materials needed to hold it in place.
A swimming pool is complex both to install and remove. Removal costs often range between $2,700 and $19,000 depending on the method chosen and the size of the pool. Commonly used methods are engineered and non-engineered landfills.
This is one of the priciest parts of a house to tear down owing to the height. Contractors work at elevated levels putting their lives at risk. The cost ranges between $4 and $5 for every square foot. The cost translates to about $45 an hour.
If you are looking to knock down a chimney, be prepared to pay between $4,000 and $10,000. The variation stems from the various designs of the chimney. Expect the price to be higher if your chimney is built into the structure unlike if it’s bolted. Also, there might be some additional costs to repair the roof if it was damaged in the process.
A barn has to be the easiest structure to knock down. However, you might need more than a sledgehammer depending on the materials used. Expect to pay between $50 and $100 per hour and some extra to for clean-up. You can reuse the materials or sell them.
Demolishing the interior can involve tackling dangerous situations such as a molded kitchen to tearing down a bathroom, or something as simple as bulldozing a walk in space. The cost is often between $400 and $9,000.
Now, this is one of the more tedious parts of a home to demolish. It is a multidisciplinary process and time-consuming. First, the contractor has to break up the concrete after which s/he hauls the debris and levels the site. Most driveways will set you back about $1,500 to demolish but you can pay upwards of $5,000 in some cases.
Finding a reliable demolition contractor is paramount if you want your job to go off without a hitch. Below are some tips on how to go about it.
Most homeowners jump the gun and speak to a contractor before they have identified what they want. You should know the exact service you need. Are you looking for a partial, selective, or complete demolition? Do you want to reuse some of the materials for reconstruction? By having in mind what it is you desire,
The idea here is to piggy-back on other peoples due diligence. If a friend or colleague is willing to refer you to a contractor, they have done their research or worked with the demolition company before. Preferably, get referrals from colleagues who have renovated their houses within the last six months to a year.
Referrals are often the best way to get a proficient contractor.
When you are driving, or out working or maybe just biking through your neighborhood, keep your eyes open for signs. First, there is a high these contractors have been evaluated by the homeowner, and you will be relying on their due diligence saving yourself the trouble. More importantly though is that these companies don’t mind displaying their names on the signs. Their contact will be on there too. A detailed sign shows that the company is proud of the work they do. You can do one better and speak to the homeowner about his/her experiences working with the demolition contractor.
There are instances where your family and colleagues will not be of much help, probably because most haven’t had a demolition or renovation. If you find yourself in search a situation, contact contractors you have worked with before. They will direct you to reliable personnel since they are in the same lane, and it is their desire to keep their clients happy.
As a last resort or a preliminary search, you can use online review sites to find a proficient demolition contractor. However, don’t rely on online reviews in isolation. Yes, there is a great number of people who have hired incredible contractors through online review sites, but there is equally a large number of people who have nothing but complaints. The referral sites are a noble idea, but they can be gamed. Fraudulent contractors will pump testimonials and fake reviews to fool clients.
To avoid fraudulent demolition companies, use online reviews together with the Better Business Bureau. A company will only be on the BBB if there is a complaint against it. It is an ideal way to eliminate fraudsters who pump reviews on third-party review sites.
One final place you can look for demolition contractors is through trade associations, though they have a limitation. Yes, associations will keep the contractor in line and ensure that his work meets the standards. Nevertheless, there is the likelihood that most demolition companies will not be part of an association if there are no tangible benefits. You will probably be missing out on top demolition services if you rely solely on trade associations.
After your initial due-diligence and asking for referrals, you should shortlist between 3 and 5 contractors. Make a point to call them and ask for their credentials. Remember demolition requires contractors to be licensed and certified to handle hazardous materials. You can ask them to send a copy of the certification and the license to warrant and confirm with the relevant authorities. As for insurance, you call the company to certify that the cover is still in force and the amount.
You want to ensure that the contractor has the employees he says he has and he will not be working with casual labor. First, there is the issue of workers compensation. Employees are covered and insurance caters for those injured on your property, but the same does not go for casual laborers. You will have to cater for any injuries. Also, you want to certify that they have the personnel to handle the job and where they will be sub-contracting.
If the deal is too good, it’s wise you think twice. Yes, demolition quotes are going to differ from contractor to contractor seeing as each has a different operation and overhead costs. However, the difference shouldn’t be that significant. Say you have 3 estimates and 2 show that demolition will set you back around $5,000 and one quotes $3,000. You might be tempted to hire the last contractor but we advise against it. Often times, this is a ruse to get one foot in your home and they will change the costs as the job progresses.
Also be cautious of the ‘today-only’ offers. This is a commonly used ruse to get homeowners to hurriedly sign contractors. By enticing you with offers they keep you from considering other contractors. Their price could even be higher than that of other contractors.
Homeowners, make the mistake of taking the contractors word on previous jobs. There are instances where the contractor will even claim to have worked on a house but cannot establish contact with the owner as s/he moved away. Watch out for such excuses. Any decent demolition company should be able to provide a list of references and their contacts. Call them up and inquire how it was working with the demolition company.
References go beyond previous clients though. Financial references will give you a better feel of who you are working with. Establish the type of relationship your contractor has with suppliers, his insurance company, and banks.
The work history of any institution will tell you a lot about the institution. Check for any legal complaints filed against the company, the number of jobs completed, how long the company has been operational and under which names, etc.
Be on the lookout for contractors who use scare tactics to get you to sign a contract with them. Always seek a second opinion or contact the authorities if you have any concerns.
Most fly-by-night demolition contractors are from out of state. Staying local will go a long way in helping you avoid scams. Ask a company for an address and ensure you pay them a visit. You want to make sure that they have the tools and personnel to handle the job. Also, there will be an address where you can file your legal complaints if the company does not adhere to the contract.
If you are not in a position to visit their offices, you can ring them. The thing about proficient contractors is that they have a professional to man the calls. However, avoid any company that uses a generic a generic answering machine. It’s highly unprofessional.
Finally, get a written agreement. A verbal agreement is never possible to verify. Ensure that the contract is detailed. It should cover the materials needed, the labor, the time frame, and the payment. You can always ask for amendments if you aren’t satisfied with the contract. If there is a change order, ensure both parties agree to it, and you sign tool.
Most insurance policies restrict contractors from demolition activities. If not they only cover a limited scope and thus limit the demolition activities of a contractor. Ask for the institution’s insurer or agent plus a copy of the insurance certificate. Proceed to check if the limits of the liability are adequate for the job. While at it, verify that the cover is still in force and that the amount is as stated.
Local authorities require that all demolition jobs be permitted. You need to establish who is responsible for this. You don’t want run-ins with the powers that be and furthermore permits protect you from fraudulent contractors. Determine what is required to get the permits, and maintain them. Some authorities need erosion and control measures, therefore ascertain that the company you hire can meet all requirements. We encourage homeowners to pull permits themselves to avoid hitches.
Most pre-1978 buildings contain asbestos and lead which are toxic. You want to know how the company whose services you engage is planning to handle that. It should always start with an inspection to identify if there are any hazardous substances. Next check if they are certified by the EPA to handle such substances and that their insurance covers them too.
You also want to identify the methods they use to dispose of the materials.
Demolition is a highly specialized job. There is a lot of subtle science and skill in play. Also, it requires a lot of skill to pull it off without a hitch. You, therefore, need a proficient contractor and credentials will help determine who is the most qualified. Also, ask for licenses to show that s/he is allowed to operate within your locale. You should check the license number on the BBB to ensure there are no complaints against the company.
Most items after a demolition can be recycled to keep them from the landfill. Their resale can also be used to make up for some of the costs. The contractor can pay you some small fee for the salvaged goods, or you can split the proceeds. Just be sure to establish the way forward with regard to the salvage material.
Demolition work has many parties involved and there is always the likelihood of something going wrong. A simple miscommunication can have devastating effects. You, therefore, want to know how the contractor intends to secure the site from the public and protect his/her employees from the many hazards. Pay attention to how he responds. Remember that the steps he proposes follow a hierarchical approach from the most effective to the least effective.
Any proficient contractor should provide a fully detailed estimate of the items you will be paying for. However, this can only be after a thorough inspection of your home. Finally, be sure to go through the policy for making changes before you sign any contract.
Knowing the kind of equipment a company has will help you know how fast and efficiently a company will finish your demolition. If they are using modern tools, you can expect them to be faster, and with little damage unlike if they are relying on outmoded equipment. Also, they should have the power tools for both partial and total demolition.
Knowing the contractor’s schedule can help you plan your work. You will know his/her availability and when he can start your work. Expect any credible contractor to be busy.
The idea here is to work with a company that has been around for a while. Older companies have streamlined their services and have tackled most fledgling company problems. They have a wealth of experience working on demolition. Ask for a reference or two from years back to ensure that the company is as old as they claim.
Before choosing a demolition company, be sure what you are looking for. Are you looking for a partial, selective, or total demolition? Next, find a credible contractor. Yes, you can DIY, but demolition is quite complex and you are better off hiring a professional. Finally, ask the above questions so you are sure you are making the best decision.