How are buildings usually demolished?

House demolition: you have to reckon with these costs

A house demolition can be necessary for various reasons - for example, if buildings are simply no longer suitable for renovation or if the building owner could not realize his ideas as part of a renovation. When weighing the pros and cons, the costs of demolishing a house also play an important role in many cases. How high will the financial outlay be in the event of a demolition? Here you can find guidelines - and how the costs can possibly be reduced.

House demolition: you have to reckon with these costs
House demolition: you have to reckon with these costs

What are the reasons for demolishing a house?

Dilapidated properties are often to be had at a bargain price, with plots that are also promising. Then the obvious course of action is to demolish the house and build a new one. But the demolition results in an extra expense in addition to the purchase price, which needs to be factored into the total bill in advance.

One of the most common reasons for a house to be demolished is that the house has serious structural defects and is technically in poor condition, for example with regard to statics or if the building is polluted. A bad purchase can also be the reason for demolition - if the promising little house turns out to be a junk property in the end.

Another reason for the demolition of a house can be that the building owner's energetic and architectural ideas cannot be realized with an old building, for example if higher ceilings are desired.

Costs for demolishing a house: Which conditions play a role?

A general answer to the question of the cost of demolishing a house can hardly be given, because many factors play a role here:

  • The building size: The workload and machine time for the demolition are closely related to the size of the house.
  • The local conditions: Is the house to be demolished easily accessible from all sides? Is it closely bordered by other houses? The property and the surrounding area also determine how easy or difficult the demolition is - this of course has a major impact on the costs.
  • The building materials: The disposal costs vary depending on the building materials used. Problematic substances such as asbestos, for example in the Eternit panels that were used up until the 1980s, must be disposed of separately.
  • Necessary security measures: Is the house on a street or a sidewalk? Do barriers have to be put in place? The greater the work involved in setting up the construction site, the more expensive the demolition will be.
  • The cellar: If the demolition house has a basement, this must be dredged. The resulting hole must be filled and the earth compacted so that the new building can be safely erected.

What is the cost per square meter to demolish a house?

Roughly calculated, you have to budget around 10,000 to 25,000 euros for the demolition of an old single-family house of average size with partial basement, which is also freely accessible. A small house without a basement can cost less, but a larger house can cost a lot more. A price of 50 to 100 euros per square meter can serve as a rough guide. In order to get more reliable figures, it is best to ask at least two certified demolition companies to give you a concrete offer for the demolition of the house.

We set up a calculation example for the demolition of a single-family house with a living space of 130 m²:

Demolition planning for a specialist company1,000 euros
Preparatory work / disposal of interior fittings2,500 euros
Demolition costs12,000 euros
Dredge the foundation, fill in and compact the earth4,000 euros
Disposal of hazardous waste1,500 euros
Disposal of rubble2,000 euros
total cost23,000 euros

Can the costs of demolishing a house be reduced?

Under certain circumstances and with certain measures, you can reduce the total cost of the demolition project. In-house work comes into question that reduce the effort for the demolition company, for example the thorough clearance of the inside of the building - talk to the company about this.

Basically, all measures that remove obstacles and make the building more accessible reduce the workload for the demolition company. Tree felling, for example, clears the way for the machines, depending on the local conditions.

Do the demolition of the house yourself or hire a demolition company?

With a certified demolition company as your partner, you are in principle on the safe side - especially with larger demolition work and when dealing with the disposal of construction waste. However, depending on how great your experience or that of your helpers is, you can also handle smaller sections yourself. A small stable in an old farmhouse is certainly less expensive than a building in a densely built-up area and is therefore more of a candidate for demolition on your own.

Decision-making aid: Pros and cons of demolishing a house

Pros and cons of renovation - what is the bottom line? A study by the “Working Group for Contemporary Building” comes to the conclusion that the renovation costs of an apartment building from the 1950s, for example, are between 990 and 1475 euros per square meter, depending on the effort. Meanwhile, the costs for the demolition and the subsequent new construction amount to 1000 to 1465 euros per square meter of living space. In view of this calculation, it is therefore important to consider whether a renovation really makes sense.

When calculating costs, however, the potential subsidies must also be included. Currently, the focus of the federal and state subsidy programs - above all KfW subsidies, above all on energy-efficient refurbishment. The so-called existing replacement (replacement new building) is not taken into account.

The following guideline may offer you some guidance when making a decision: If the renovation costs are more than 75 percent of the new construction costs, demolition is most likely the better choice. Because the new building costs a little more, but also offers advantages: It is designed completely according to the wishes of the client, so offers a lot of design freedom, while compromises usually have to be made with the old building. In addition, old buildings cannot be fully upgraded in terms of energy in all cases, which can have negative financial effects.

The legal requirements: demolition permit & Co.

Before you start demolishing a house, you usually have to submit a demolition application and obtain appropriate permits. Since the building regulations in Germany are state law, there may be regional differences. Normally you have to register the demolition project with the responsible building authority, which issues the permits. It is best to find out about the formalities directly from the building authority.

There can also be terminations without authorization. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, this (according to Section 65 (3) of the NRW building regulations) affects buildings of up to 300 m³ of enclosed space, walls and fences, parking spaces for vehicles, swimming pools and bicycle parking spaces.

If it is a listed building or if there are protected buildings in the vicinity, further permits and formalities may be necessary. The responsible monument protection authority must be included in the process.

Studies show that demolishing a house is often the better choice in Germany

Renovation of the old stock or demolition and new construction? Even if the statistics only help the building owner to a limited extent in his individual decision, a look at the “big picture” is still interesting.

A nationwide study by the “Working Group for Contemporary Construction” came to the result in 2011 that more than every tenth residential building in Germany can no longer be renovated economically. This study was commissioned by the construction industry associations, the tenants' association and IG BAU. In figures, this result means that with around 175,000 residential buildings in Germany, demolition and new construction are more profitable than renovation.

Two current problems play a major role in this context: the lack of age-appropriate housing and the lack of energy efficiency in existing housing. A study by the building research facility ARGE Kiel and the Pestel Institute Hanover came to the result in 2016 that the consistent demolition and construction of around 1.8 million old, run-down residential buildings could create up to 3.5 million new apartments nationwide that are energy-efficient and would be senior-friendly.