How Much Does House Demolition Cost Across Australia in 2024

How much does house demolition cost

For most people demolishing a house looks like a scene from a home renovation show.

In reality, the process of knocking down a house requires precision, patience and a significant amount of cash. 

So how much does house demolition cost and which factors affect the final bill? Are there any ways to cut down on costs?

This blog post will give you all the answers.

How Much Does It Cost to Demolish a House in Australia?

The average house demolition cost in Australia is around $16 or $17k, although house demolition projects can go from $12,000 to $40,000. 

If the house is small, in an easily-accessible location, and has no dangerous material in the construction, you could expect to pay up to $20k. On other hand, a bigger house with asbestos in the construction could set you back a lot more.

How Do You Calculate How Much Does House Demolition Cost?

Here are the most common factors that contribute to the final bill.

1. The size of the property

One of the most important factors is the size of the structure being demolished. Unsurprisingly, it costs more to demolish larger houses as the process involves more people, time and equipment. 

The other thing is that contractors typically charge by square metre. So if the average cost of demolishing a house is around $50 per square metre (although prices vary drastically across states, but more on this below) and the typical house in Australia is 195.8 square metres, then you could expect to pay at least $9,790.

2. The type of demolition 

In general, there are three types of demolition:

Selective or partial demolition 

This involves the removal of only one part of the building, usually in the interior of the house. Selective demolition does not involve any structural changes to the property as is thus less expensive. 

This can be a great option for people who:

  • Are planning to rent out part of their home and need to make some interior design changes, like knocking down walls or expanding rooms;
  • Cannot make changes to the exterior of the house due to council regulations, but still want to improve the interior of the home. 

Total demolition 

As the name suggests, total demolition involves tearing down the entire building. This is a costly process and requires the use of heavy machinery, equipment and labour. Plus contractors usually charge by the hour, further jacking up costs. 

Who is this option for?

  • Property owners who need to knock down existing structures before getting the land subdivided and splitting the property;
  • Investors who want to demolish, rebuild and sell;
  • Homeowners of older houses with weakening foundations
  • People who want to have a completely new construction, which might include eco-friendly design or reusable materials;
  • In some cases, it is cheaper to rebuild than renovate an older home, especially one with asbestos.

Manual deconstruction 

Manual deconstruction, or sustainable demolition, is when all recyclable material from the building has been salvaged before the demolition process starts. 

Manual deconstruction is an eco-friendly solution that will not only help cut down on the massive waste Australia generates each year but also help you reduce the overall house demolition cost. The contractor will most likely offset the cost of the salvaged material against the quote so you could end up paying less for the demotion process.

Interior or exterior?

Another deciding factor is whether the demolition is on the inside or it involves the exterior as well. For instance, it costs about $1,500 to remove a non-load-bearing wall, whereas the removal of a load-bearing wall could set you back $4,500.

Other structures

Are there any other structures that need to be removed from the property, including man-made like sheds or garages, as well as natural, like trees and shrubs?  

Demolishing a detached garage, for example, can cost $2,000 or $4k if there is excavation and asbestos removal involved.

Taking down commercial buildings costs more than residential properties. In Sydney, demolishing a one-storey building costs $100/m2, $120/m2 for two storeys and $130/m2 for three-storey buildings.

Removal of trees

If there are trees near the house, you should consult with an arborist about which of them need to be removed and how. This is another big expense as it involves:

  • An inspection of about $100 to determine whether the entire tree needs to be removed or just pruned, plus
  • $70 per hour to take down the tree.

The final cost may range from $300 to $1,000.

3. The material the house is made of

The contractor will decide on the cost and equipment needed based on the material used in the construction of the house. Timber houses are cheaper to knock down, while concrete, brick and cement are typically more expensive as they require heavier machinery and equipment. Plus timber can be reused, so you won’t have to pay as much to remove construction debris.

4. Accessibility of the property

If the property is hard to access, the cost will go up as the contractor will factor in travel fees, transportation costs for equipment and tools, and the expenses involved in transporting debris to the closest recycling or disposal facility. 

5. Hazardous materials

If the house you are planning to tear down was built between 1920 and 1990, it is very likely that you will find asbestos in the construction. The discovery of hazardous materials (asbestos, mould or mineral fibres) can significantly increase house demolition cost as these materials must be removed by a qualified professional using specialised equipment and safety measures.

How much does it cost to demolish a house with asbestos?

Knocking down a house with asbestos is three times more expensive than tearing down a building with no dangerous materials. 

It is estimated that the standard cost to knock down a house with asbestos will add around $2,500 to total demolition costs. The final price will depend on how much asbestos has to be removed, where it is found (pipes, walls, ceiling) and how hard it is to remove. 

6. Disposing of waste

The final step in the demolition process is the cleanup and disposal of waste and debris. Usually, the contractor will take care of this for a fee ranging from $300 to $1,800 (depending on the size of the house and the amount of waste generated). 

However, some contractors will need additional help cleaning up a site. This typically adds another $400 or $800 per truck of debris

7. Permit costs

In some cases you would have to apply to the local council for demolition permits, which means paying application fees. The entire process of applying for a permit may cost between $350 and $700.

8. Cost of accommodation

If you are knocking down the house where you live, you and your family would have to arrange for accommodation during the demolition. Suppose staying with friends or family is not an option, then you will have to pay for a hotel or Airbnb.

This may not cost as much as the other demolition fees, but it is still an expense you have to budget for.

How Much Does It Cost to Knock Down a House Across the Country?

As mentioned above, the cost of demolishing a house varies greatly between states. Let’s take a look at the average demolition costs per square metre in the biggest cities in Australia:

CityDemolition of a brick house Demolition of a wooden frame house 
Sydney$70/m2 $58/m2
Adelaide $52/m2$43/m2
(source: Architecture & Design)

Contractors won’t always charge you by square metre, though. 

In Sydney, for example, the average cost to demolish a house is $70/m2. However, you won’t be able to bank on this when planning your budget, as contractors in the city consider the factors outlined above when they calculate the overall price. 

Here is the average cost of demolishing a house in several states:

State Average cost of demolition 
New South Wales $11,500
Western Australia $8,000
Queensland $9,500
(Source: Oneflare)

How Can You Finance the Demolition of a House?

Since demolition costs can add up, it might be wise to consider some financing options that will help you cover some or all of the expenses.

Here are the options available to you:

  • Paying with your own money. If you have saved up some money, you could use this to pay for the demolition of the house.

If you already have a house loan, you could go for a:

  • Mortgage offset account which is linked to your home loan and allows you to deposit or withdraw money in the same way as a standard transaction account. 
  • Redraw facility which lets you access any additional repayments you have made to your mortgage.

To find out what happens to a redraw once the mortgage is paid off, take a gander at this guide.

  • Refinance your home loan, i.e. switch lenders or loans to one that better suits you. 
  • Start a line of credit home loan. This option works much like a credit card, so you have a predetermined amount of money you can access whenever you need to.

Depending on your financial situation, you could also apply for a new personal or construction loan. Keep in mind that having a good credit score, steady income and no debt will significantly increase your chances of getting approved for a new loan. If not, you could end up paying higher interest rates or getting less favourable conditions from lenders.

What Steps Do I Need to Take Before Demolishing a House 

Before you start knocking down walls, there are a few steps you need to take. 

1. Planning permits

Some states require that homeowners apply for permits before they tear down a house. This also depends on the type of demolition involved, i.e. whether it is total or partial. 

If your proposed demolition affects the consistency of city planning or heritage-listed properties, you might not be allowed to make any changes to the house. The same goes for house demolitions in areas prone to bushfires. The application process could take a few weeks, so you need to include this in your estimated construction timeline.

If you do need a permit, this is a list of the documents you will be required to submit:

  • Marked site plans and photos that show the building to be knocked down and its surroundings;
  • A document outlining the demolition process and how you plan to protect the surrounding structures and properties;
  • Proof that you have hired a licensed demolisher or contractor, along with all their relevant details;
  • Title for the land ($20 to $30 per copy);
  • A copy of your public liability insurance policy;
  • A document showing how you plan to dispose of the waste from the demolition process.

Lodging forms with a local council also requires additional fees (a standard demolition permit from a local council is around $350), which you will have to calculate as part of your demolition budget.

2. Service disconnection 

All services, such as water, electricity, gas and telecommunications must be disconnected before the demolition starts. You also need to think about arranging with your providers to have those services connected again if you plan on building right after the demolition process is done. 

3. Baiting

In some areas, the local council might ask you to bait for rodents so as to stop pests from moving to your neighbours’ homes. 

4. Hire a demolition contractor

This is one of the most important steps to take as the contractor will be the one overseeing and organising the entire process. Contractors can also guide you through the planning permit application by providing the necessary documents. Ensure that the contractor you engage has all the required licences, up-to-date equipment and a plan on waste disposal.

How to Reduce the Cost of Demolition? 

There are several steps you can take to cut down on costs.

  • Get the house inspected for hazardous materials. The sooner you know about the presence of dangerous materials in the house, the more time you will have to find a qualified professional to remove them. Looking for one while you are in a rush to complete the demolition will only end up costing you more. 
  • Get quotes from several contractors to find the best deal. Contractor fees vary greatly, so shop around before you sign the dotted line. You could also save some money if you use the same contractor for the demolition and rebuilding. 
  • Try to donate or sell any salvageable material. Doing so will bring in some extra cash as well as cut down on the amount of debris that needs to be cleared from the site after the demolition. Another option is to find contractors interested in using recyclable material. 
  • Get legal help to gather all the required documents for the planning permit. Legal fees will cost you, but you can save a lot in the long run as it would take you twice as long to collect all the paperwork by yourself.
  • Compare lenders. If you are taking out a new house loan, be sure to take a look at the home loan comparison rate to see how much the actual mortgage will set you back.

Final Words

Even though the average cost of tearing down a house in Australia is around $17k (more or less), there could be unforeseen expenses that could jack up the final bill to $30,000 or more.  

There are several financing options you could opt for to cover the expenses, but before you do, make sure you try to cut down costs where possible and talk to a financial advisor who will tell you if one of these options (or any) is the right choice for you.

Also, make sure that you carefully check all the requirements of the state where you live regarding permitted changes to houses. Finally and most importantly, take the time to do proper research and hire a contractor who is qualified, professional and whom you can trust.


1. How long does it take to demolish a house?

As with the cost, the estimated time frame to tear down a house depends on several factors:

  • How long the permit application process takes (if you need to get one)
  • Unforeseen expenses (discovery of hazardous materials in the house)
  • Unexpected hold-ups due to weather or contractor’s schedules

The process of demolition itself, though, should not take more than a few days, but this also depends on the size of the house and the type of demolition taking place. 

2. Can you tear down a house with a mortgage?

Yes, but you must inform the bank since you are using your house as security against the home loan. In other words, until the mortgage is paid off, the bank technically owns the house and they need to know about any major renovations or reconstructions taking place on the property.

3. Is it cheaper to renovate a house or tear it down and rebuild?

In general, it is more cost-effective to knock down and rebuild than to renovate, especially if you are planning on doing extensive renovations.

The average cost of renovating a house in Australia goes from $2,500 to $4,000 per square metre, but it can go higher depending on the materials used, the state of the house and other factors. Renovations on a one-bedroom house could cost as much as $140,000, which is only slightly less than the cost of a new construction. 

That said, house prices have gone up considerably in the past couple of years, so carefully think about how much does house demolition cost and how much will rebuilding set you back; weigh that against the cost of a new construction and then decide which is the most budget-friendly option for you.

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