The Demolition Phase

Learn about how to plan and prepare for the Demolition Phase of your Construction project.
The demolition phase of a house flip


The Demolition Phase is an exciting phase of your rehab project.  After weeks or months of preparation and planning, you finally get to swing a sledgehammer and start the construction work.  

Before you get started on the demolition work you will want to create plans, pull permits, order a dumpster and make sure you and your demolition contractors are on the same page.

Prepping for Demolition

Step #1: Planning/Coordination

It's critical that your Demolition Contractor understands what items need to be demolished and what item's need to be saved.  You don't want your contractor to make the mistake of tearing out kitchens, bathrooms or finishes that you were planning on saving.  A mistake like this could cost you thousands of dollars.

Before your start Demolition create a Demolition Plan that shows your Demolition Contractor exactly what needs to be torn out on the property, and what needs to be saved.

Walk-through the property with your Demolition Contractor, discuss the Scope of Work and spray-paint an 'x' on all items that need to be demolished to avoid any confusion.​
House Flip Demolition Plan Example

Step #2: Pull Permits (if necessary)

Before your start demolition, you will need to determine if you need to pull permits.  Generally, you will need to pull a permit if you are tearing out walls, changing the layout of the property or upgrading the MEP systems.  Talk to your local building department about your project to help you determine if you need to pull a permit for your project.

Here's an article on Why, How & When to Pull a Building Permit.

Step #3: Order a Dumpster

If your project involves tearing-out kitchens, bathrooms, carpet and knocking down walls you will want to order a dumpster to get rid of the debris.

Before demolition begins order a dumpster, and have it placed in the driveway so your demolition contractor can start removing debris from the property.

Dumpsters come in several different sizes:
  1. 20 yard - A 20 yard dumpster will work for small projects, that involve tearing up carpets, & flooring.
  2. 30 yard - A 30 yard dumpster will work for small to medium-sized projects, that involve tearing up flooring and bathrooms.
  3. 40 yard - A 40 yard dumpster will work for large rehab projects, that involve gutting everything including the flooring, bathrooms & kitchens.​

Step #4: Turn Off Utilities

Before you contractor's start tearing out water pipes and cutting wiring, they need to shut off the water-supply and electricity in the property.

​Make sure your contractors turn off the main water shut-off valve and main circuit breakers off on the property to prevent water leaks and electrocution!

Step #5: Inspect/Test for Lead & Asbestos

One final factor to consider before your start demolition is the presence of Lead and Asbestos in your home.  

Lead Paint

One final factor to consider before your start demolition is the presence of Lead and Asbestos in your home.  
If you are working in a property that was built before 1978, there is a possibility that lead paint was used on your home.

In April 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency required that all renovators working in homes built before 1978 be certified, and use 'Lead Safe Practices' to prevent lead-contamination during renovations.

To test for lead paint you can get an Instant Lead Paint Kit from Lowes or Home Depot for around $10.  

If Lead Paint is found on your property your will need to use 'Lead Safe Certified Contractors' and 'Lead Safe Practices' during your rehab project.


Asbestos is a mineral that was used in manufactured products prior to the mid-1980 such as pipe insulation, ceiling and floor tiles, paints & caulking.  If asbestos materials are disturbed, and fibers are inhaled it can cause serious health risks such as mesothelioma.  

Items That May Contain Asbestos:
  • 9x9 Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives
  • Roofing and siding shingles
  • Hot water pipes coated with asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape
  • Attic and wall insulation produced containing vermiculite
  • Textured paint and patching compounds used on walls and ceilings
  • Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets

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As long as you don't disturb the lead paint or disturb the asbestos, you do not have to remove the lead paint or asbestos from the property.
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Who performs the Demolition work?
If you have a General Contractor working on your project, the GC will take care of the demolition work themselves.  

However, if you are managing and hiring the Subcontractors yourself, you will have to hire a contractor that is qualified to perform the work.  Here are a tradesman that are qualified to perform the Demolition Work:
  1. Handyman - A handyman is qualified to handle the work, although he may not have man power to handle the project himself, so he will likely have to bring in some extra laborers to help with the demolition work.
  2. Demolition Contractor - There are contractors that specialize specifically in Demolition Work.  Search Google for local Demolition Contractors or talk to your Dumpster provider to see if they can suggest a reputable Demolition Contractor for your project.
  3. Framing Contractor - Framing Contractors will understand what framing and walls need to be retained, so if you have a framing contractor working on the project ask to see if they will take on the demolition as well.
  4. MEP Contractors - You may want to consider having your MEP Contractors (Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing) tear-out their own work.  The last thing you want to happen is have a demolition crew damage a bunch of piping, wiring or ductwork that you were planning on keeping in the property.  
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How long should the Demolition work take?
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.  

Generally, a 1,500 sf 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom can have the kitchen, bathrooms, and floorings demolished in 1 to 3 days.
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How much should the Demolition work cost?
Demolition costs will vary depending on the size of the property, scope of work, location, type of contractors used, labor rates & disposal costs.

​Generally, demolishing the kitchen, bathrooms and flooring in a 1,500 sf 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom property will run around $1,000 to $2,000.

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