Knock down & rebuild or not?

If you are simply adding a second bedroom or a bathroom, and you are happy with the rest of your house as it is – then it’s probably financially better sense to do a limited renovation.

But if its major renovations your thinking of, then it’s worth doing some homework to decide whether a simple knockdown rebuild might be a less costly option for you.

At Selah Homes, rebuilds can cost less per square metre than renovations and are usually faster too.

Fixed price contracts

With a rebuild, all subcontractors are usually on set rates but the same is not necessarily true for renovation work. It’s harder to get a fixed price contract when you renovate.

Home renovators will often pay more for tradespeople because unexpected challenges often emerge when walls are removed and floorboards pulled up.

What does it cost to demolish a house?

Costs will include drawing up plans, development and planning approval, engineers footing reports, demolition costs and alternative accommodation while the build is underway.

Before a rebuild, you’ll need to look closely at the knockdown process. This includes researching the cost to demolish a house and finding a suitable contractor.

If you choose Selah Homes for a knockdown rebuild, we cover most of the items listed below for you – making the whole process as simple and stress-free as possible.

Size and access – the size of your house will affect the overall demolition cost, and some contractors charge by the square metre.  Your site gradient and access for demolition equipment may also affect the projected cost.

Building materials – Brick and concrete houses are generally more expensive to demolish than timber houses, because they are heavier materials requiring special machinery. Timber homes can offer a lot of salvage potential, as timber can potentially be recycled – and that brings down the overall cost of your demolition.

Hazardous material

If your house was built between 1920 and 1990, asbestos was probably used in its construction. This will bump up your budget, as asbestos is about three times more expensive to remove than standard building materials – due to the specialists skills, extra labour and treatment required.

Extra factors impacting the cost of demolition:

  • Trees or shrubs that need clearing to allow for your new build
  • Extra structures that need to be removed, like a shed or pool
  • Distance to recycling or disposal centres, which adds to transportation costs

Understanding the demolition process

Make sure you understand the demolition process before you sign on the dotted line. Your supplier may take responsibility for the entire process, or there may be parts that you need to take care of yourself.

The physical act of knocking down your existing house usually happens relatively quickly- in some cases it only takes a day. But you’ll need to allow around two months to walk through the full process, which needs to be factored into your building project plan – starting with demolition permits.

Demolition permits

Once you’ve decided on demolition, you’ll need the proper paperwork in place before you begin. This means working with a private certifier, lodging forms and paying a fee – a process which may take several weeks. So it’s important to factor that into your building timeline. Don’t forget to check whether there are any heritage restrictions on demolition or tree removal.

Services disconnection

You’ll need to work closely with your demolition contractor for this one. Usually, you’ll need to disconnect your electricity, gas, telecommunications and water/sewer prior to starting demolition. However – do check whether your supplier needs water for any asbestos removal first. If you are building straight after demolition, your electricity supplier may relocate your service to a temporary builders pole.


It may be a local council requirement for your home to be baited for rodents in the weeks leading up to your demolition. This is to stop any pests spreading to your neighbours’ homes.

Choosing a demolition contractor

It’s important to choose a demolition company that has all the necessary licences, up-to-date equipment, proven processes, and to understand where and how they will dispose of or recycle your building debris.

How does a knockdown rebuild compare to the renovation process?

If you decide to renovate, a lot of uncosted time is often spent searching around for ideas from home improvement and design magazines, and online.

From that, you create a detailed plan including your budget and preferred materials and finishes.

Once the rebuild is underway, you’d also need to allow plenty of time for unexpected delays.  You will usually need more time than you might at first imagine to deal with problems as they arise – planning for delays will lessen any stress when things move more slowly than expected.

Compare all your quotes for renovation

Yet more planning time will be taken up with obtaining quotes from a few different contractors before you start. This way, you can compare them to make sure you’re getting a good deal before you make a final decision on anything.

Because high-quality materials cost more and skilled contractors often charge more than less experienced ones, you’ll also need to spend time checking the reputation of each contractor you are considering. While doing that, you’ll need to ask plenty of questions and look for hidden fees.

Or – you could choose Selah Homes to provide you with a knockdown rebuild process where we do all the investigating for you – and that makes life a lot simpler than tackling a major renovation. Contact us to find out more