How to Estimate Demolition Costs


Every rehab project is going to require some kind of demolition work to tear out the old, dated components of the house to prep the space for the new modern finishes and fixtures you will be installing in the property. In order to create an accurate estimate, you will need to be able to be estimate the amount of man hours it will take a demolition crew to demolish the interior of the property and haul-off the debris.

Basics Of Estimating Demolition Costs

Demolition costs will vary depending on the size of the property, scope of work, location, type of contractors used, labor rates & disposal costs.

Demolition work is mostly labor, so generally the best and most accurate way of estimating demolition costs is to estimate the number of man hours required and multiply the hours by a labor rate.

For example, on a 1,500 sf 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom property it should take a crew of 2 to 3 laborers 3 days to demolish the interior of the property including tearing out the kitchen cabinetry, the bathrooms, removing the carpeting & fixtures throughout.

A typical unskilled laborer in a demolition crew will get paid between $15/hr up to $30/hr.

If your demolition crew of 3 laborers work 8 hours shifts for 3 days, that is a total of 24 hours each or 72 hours total.

72 hours x $15/hr = $1,080
72 hours x $30/hr = $2,160

Another cost consideration is the dumpsters that are used to haul off the debris. Dumpsters will generally cost between $300 up to $750 depending on the size of the dumpster.

Installation Costs

  • Demolition work per Hour ($15 - $30 per hour)
  • Room demolition, typical room ($10 - $35 per hour)
  • Room demolition, kitchen ($250 - $500)
  • Room demolition, bathroom ($250 - $500)
  • Building demolition, 1-story wood-framed ($2.5k - $5k)
  • Building demolition, 2-story wood-framed ($5k - $10k)
  • Building, demolition, masonry ($5k - $15k)
  • Building, demolition, concrete ($5k - $15k)
  • Dumpster rental ($350 - $750 each)
  • Demolition permit cost (check bldg codes)

Installation Timeline

Obviously the time it takes to demolish your property will depend on the size of the property and the types of rooms being demolished.

Certain rooms are easier or harder to demolish than others.  For example, a large living room that only has carpeting can be completed in less than an hour.  However, a bathroom can take several hours to tear out the bathtub, vanity, flooring & fixtures.  

On a 1,500 sf 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom property a demolition crew with 3 laborers can have the kitchen, bathrooms and floorings demolished in 2 to 3 days (48 to 72 hours) t

This assumes ceramic floors in the kitchen & bathrooms only with carpeting in the bedrooms & living areas.  If you are tearing out ceramic floors throughout the property that will definitely take more time than removing carpeting. If you are performing a complete gut down to the studs that will also add several days to the timeline.

Other Costs

Price Considerations

#1 Types of Rooms/Types of Finishes

Certain rooms are easier or harder to demolish than others.  For example, a large living room that only needs carpeting removed can be completed in less than an hour.  However, a small bathroom can take several hours to tear out the bathtub, vanity, tile flooring & fixtures.

#2 Cosmetic Rehab vs Gut Rehab

The extent of the rehab will also significantly impact the demolition cost. If you are performing a simple cosmetic rehab where you are just replacing the kitchen cabinetry, bathroom finishes & flooring in the property, that will be significantly cheaper than a full gut rehab that involves tearing out walls and taking all of the drywall down to the studs.

#3 Property Size

In construction, there is a term called economies-of-scale.  The larger the project, the more efficient the contractor can be demolishing a property.

#4 Location

The location where you are performing the demolition work will have a significant impact.  If you are working in a high-rise in downtown San Francisco the demolition work will obviously cost much more than the same demolition work in Midwest Suburbia.

#5 Seasonality

Spring and Summer is peak construction season and contractors are generally swamped with work, so if you are needing demolition work during this time of year you will likely pay a premium.

Writing A Scope Of Work & Getting Bids

Demolition contractors will generally provide an all inclusive bid to provide all labor and equipment to perform the interior demolition. You will want to clarify with your contractor who is responsible for providing the dumpsters for the demolished debris.

Here is an example of how to write a Scope of Work that insures your Demolition Contractor provides an all-inclusive bid.

Example Scope Of Work

All Demolition work is to be Contractor Furnished, Contractor Installed.

  1. Demolish walls, cabinets, flooring, and fixtures per demolition plans and local buliding codes.
  2. Temporarily disconnect/cap all plumbing lines at existing plumbing fixtures.
  3. Remove and dispose of all demolition debris into project dumpster.
  4. Remove and dispose all yard waste and debris into project dumpster.
  5. Remove and dispose of any furnishings left by previous Owner into project dumpster.
  6. Remove and dispose of all appliances in the kitchen.
  7. Clean-up, sweep and prep site for new construction activities.