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Home Demolition in Central New York: What You Need to Know

Staring at an old house, garage, shed, or other structure that's got to go? Thinking about buying a property with old, dilapidated buildings? Want to increase the value of your land? Demolition might be the right solution! But first, there's key things you need to know.
Join us in this article as we explore the essential information about demolition here in Central New York - from how it works to what it costs!


Very few things ever stay the same here in New York. We're not just talking about the rapidly growing cities, either. If you could rewind time you'd see big changes sweep across residential areas as they've developed over the decades. And not all of this change has come from constructing buildings. In fact, some of the biggest transformations come with removing them.
Demolition is a key player in the development and improvement of residential properties. Removing old structures improves the safety, aesthetic quality, and value of the land while making way for new construction.
But how do you actually get a house, or other structure, demolished and hauled away? Do you need to hire a professional? What about permits and permission? How dangerous is it?
It's enough to make your head spin.
So, in today's post, we're demystifying the process of demolishing a home in Central New York and showing you exactly what it takes. We'll cover:
● How to know if a structure needs to be demolished● What the demolition process entails● Key permits and permissions you may need● The typical cost of demolition services● Finding a reliable demolition contractor
Whether you have an existing structure to remove, are thinking of buying a property that needs demolition, or are a real estate agent who wants to improve a listing, this is the article for you!

Does My House or Structure Need to Be Demolished?

The very first thing you need to assess is whether or not a house or structure will actually require demolition. Taking a building down is a big project, although also a surprisingly easy one if you work with a good contractor. Still, you don't want to go knocking-down structures that may not have to be demolished.

Here's a few ways you can assess whether a house, garage, or other building, should be demolished or not.

You don't require, or want, it on the property anymore


This one is obvious we know, but if there's an old structure that you no longer want on your property then demolition is likely the best way to deal with it. You could try to sell the building, if it's in reasonable condition and can be safely moved. That said, trying to find a buyer for a structure to be moved can be a painstaking (and long) process. Even after you sell the building, you'll have to deal with the disruption of having it moved off your land.

Unless the value of the structure outweighs the hassle and disruption of selling it, demolition will be a much quicker and more direct way to have it dealt with.

Aging and beyond reasonable repair


Sometimes an old, worn-out house is actually a blank canvas for a beautiful renovation. Aaaannnd other times it's simply a structurally-unstable eyesore that has no value to offer anymore. While it did its job for many years, the glory days have passed and it's too far gone to justify investing money into repairs.
For these types of homes, the most cost-effective solution is to demolish them and make way for a new house.

This can, in fact, present a great opportunity to the savvy buyer or investor who appreciates the value of land over buildings. If you're eyeing a stunning piece of land with an unlivable house, why not negotiate the price lower and flatten the structure? You'll end up with a great property to build your dream home, typically with utility connections already in place.

Structures that have been ordered for removal


There are instances where the authorities will make the decision to order the demolition of a home or structure if it's deemed to be a health risk. When that happens, unless the order is fought and won, that building must be removed and disposed of. You can always ask your real estate agent if there are any demolition orders against structures before you purchase a property!

How the Demolition Process Works: Step-By-Step

Demolishing a house or other structure might seem like a daunting project at first, but when you break it down things don't seem quite so intimidating. Of course, working with an experienced demolition contractor will also make the entire process vastly more efficient and enjoyable. They'll be able to explain everything that needs to happen, and what it will look like, to safely remove your building.

Now the precise steps you'll have to take depend on things like the type of structure you need removed, location, and site conditions. What we'll walk you through here is a solid overview of the typical "stuff" that takes place during a residential demolition project.

1: Secure Permits & Permissions


Much like you need a building permit to build it takes a demolition permit in order to, well, demolish something. Depending on your local governing body this may fall under names like building permit, construction permit, or simply demolition permit.

Most areas in Central New York require that you obtain a permit for the demolition of any structure on a property, not just houses. Even if you're looking to remove an old shed or basic garage, you'll still want to acquire the proper permission. Also take note if your demolition work is happening in close proximity to a waterway, which may demand additional permits.

2: Check for Asbestos


This technically falls under "permits and permissions", but it's such an incredibly important step we wanted to emphasize it. Before you can demolish a building in New York State, you must have a qualified Asbestos Inspector check your property for any asbestos.
If the inspector finds any of the material, you'll need to have asbestos abatement performed before you can safely proceed with demolition.

You don't want to skip this step, no matter how tempting. Not only could you be liable for significant fines, it's a serious safety concern. Breathing in asbestos, even tiny amounts, causes permanent lung damage that may not come to light for many years. It's simply not worth it to skimp on having a structure checked for asbestos before demolition.

Plus, any contractor worth their salt would never demolish a building without an asbestos inspection.

3: Pre-Demolition Preparation


Once you've secured all the right permissions, you can commence with your demolition! Actually, not quite yet. First you must decide if you're going to DIY your demolition or hire a contractor. We personally recommend hiring a professional. Demolition is a big job, and not typically suited for do-it-yourself'ers unless the structure is quite small and simple.

After you've chosen a demolition contractor (more on that later), they'll come for a site visit to assess the structure for removal. A keen contractor will look for any obstructions that could cause problems, overhead lines, utility connections, and other considerations. If there's any prep work needed to make way for demolition, your contractor will let you know.

You should also be a good neighbor and let nearby residences know what will be happening and expected timelines. Keeping other folks "in the loop" is an easy way to avoid arguments or headaches.

4: Demolish the Structure


Finally, the satisfying part of your demolition project. Taking down that old, dilapidated structure and clearing the way for something new. The exact approach your demolition contractor will take depends on the size, type, and shape of the building. But, overall, the idea is to knock all the walls inwards to create a tidy pile of debris in a single location.

This reduces mess and disturbance to your yard and makes loading the materials into a dumpster far more efficient. Speaking of which, that's what happens after the structure is flattened. All the materials are dropped into a heavy-duty construction bin, but the job isn't quite done yet.

For most houses or buildings, there's going to be a foundation underneath. This is often comprised of concrete pads, footings, or deep columns. Any foundation materials must be excavated and also removed, to ensure the site is completely ready for fresh construction. If extensive excavation was required, cleanfill can be deposited to bring the area up to grade.

5: Dispose of Demolition Waste


Demolishing even a small building can result in a surprising amount of waste, and it has to go somewhere! If you're working with a professional demolition contractor you won't have to stress about this. It'll be their job to handle the removal and disposal of your demolition waste, leaving you with a clean site that's free of the previous eye-sore.

What's the Cost of Demolition in Central New York?

The most popular question we receive by far when talking to people about demolition is, "What will demolishing my house or building cost?"
And it's a great question! Although, with a slightly complex answer. We'll dive into some of the factors that affect the cost of your demolition project, but if you want the general average...
Demolishing a house or other structure in Central New York typically costs anywhere from $5,000 to $35,000.


Why the broad price range? Because there's many things that can affect the overall cost of your project, so your exact pricing can vary greatly. So let's talk about some of them!

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    Size of the Building

    This one might seem pretty obvious, but the size of your structure will naturally have a big impact on the cost to demolish it. Large buildings take more effort to tear-down and dispose of, which means more time from your contractor (plus extra wear-and-tear on their equipment).

  • Type of Building

    Much like size, what your building was used for can also affect the price of demolition. A simple shed is easier to handle than a house with all kinds of pipes, wires, and utilities. Plus, disposal again becomes an additional consideration as the volume of waste a house produces can be more extensive.

  • Location of Structure

    If your structure is located in close proximity to other buildings, or sits on land that's tricky to access, it can affect your costs. Challenging locations or remote areas increase the time it takes for demolition, as your contractor will have to take extra care or travel further.

  • Presence of Asbestos

    Asbestos are by far the number one cost factor that can exponentially increase the expense of your demolition project. As we've already mentioned, you must have an asbestos inspection performed prior to demolition. If they discover asbestos, they'll need to be abated which could add thousands of dollars to the overall price. However, the cost is well worth it as you can face financial penalties and life-long health problems by ignoring asbestos.

Pro-tip! When comparing quotes for your demolition project, look for contractors who provide an honest breakdown. Some provide vague estimates that seem like a good deal on the surface, but once demolition starts they find all kinds of "unexpected" costs (that they actually knew about in the first place). Good contractors are open and transparent about their pricing.

How Demolition Can Improve Your Land Value

When thinking about how to improve the value of a property, we often imagine the things we can add to it. But removing things can be just as effective in boosting land value while also enhancing your enjoyment of the space.


Let's use a hypothetical example to illustrate the point...

Imagine a homeowner is looking to sell their property, but in one section there's an old garage that's slowly falling apart. It's no longer functional and essentially a hazard sitting on the yard.

Even if the rest of the property is perfectly manicured, that one ugly structure will be the first thing prospective buyers notice.

Or, picture a real estate agent selling a beautiful piece of land that contains a few dilapidated structures.

Their client may be able to lift their selling price by dealing with old buildings and making the site ready for immediate use. Buyers may not want to deal with clearing houses, sheds, or garages. Cleaning them up before listing can boost the attractiveness of that property.

Those are a couple simple scenarios, but you get the idea. Removing unattractive or unsafe buildings from a property is a sure-fire way to improve the aesthetic and functional appeal of the land.

Choosing a Great Demolition Contractor

The quality of your contractor can make the difference between a stress-free demolition project, and one that's fraught with nightmares. And truly, not all demolition contractors are created equal. Your ideal contractor is someone who can complete the work efficiently while prioritizing safety, adherence to regulations, and transparent communication.

Here's some of the things you should look for when assessing a contractor for your demolition project:

Experience & Reliability


When it comes to demolition, the importance of experience is hard to overstate. Safely taking down a building is more than smashing away with an excavator. It takes a steady hand and accurate touch to get the job done as clean and smooth as possible.
● Check Past Projects: Ask about the contractors previous work and seek out testimonials or reviews.
● Verify Licenses: In New York, demolition contractors must be licensed. Confirm that your contractor has the proper credentials, which reflect a care for industry standards.
● Insurance is Vital: Ensure the contractor has liability insurance and worker’s compensation. This protects you from being liable for any accidents or damages that happen during demolition!

Reviewing & Understanding Contracts


Once your contract is signed, you're in a legally-binding agreement. So you want to make sure you understand every aspect in order to avoid nasty surprises later on. A good demolition contract should include...
● Scope of Work: The contract should clearly define what your demolition will entail, outlining which structures or sections are going to be demolished and the what debris removal is included.
● Timeline: You want to see a clear start and end date for the work, and understand any situations that could lead to delays (and how your contractor would address them).
● Payment Terms: The payment schedule should be clear, and make sure you understand any conditions (if they exist).
● Liability and Insurance Clauses: It should highlight the contractor’s responsibility in the case of damages or accidents during demolition.
● Termination Clause: This explains the conditions that would allow either party to terminate the contract, and what the consequences of termination are.

Communication & Transparency


Clear and open communication is the number one key to enjoying an easy, painless, and successful demolition project. If your contractor is hard to speak with or difficult to get a hold of, it will cause unnecessary delays and frustrations.
● Consult & Site Visit: Your initial consult can likely take place over the phone, as your contractor gathers important information about your demolition project. After that consultation, they'll usually schedule a site visit to assess your needs in-person. During this process your contractor should be explaining each step, answering your questions, and guiding you through.
● Open-Door Policy: The best contractors are ones contractor who welcome your questions and concerns at any stage of the process. A quality operator will always make time to address your needs or provide answers.
● Written Communication: Protect yourself by making sure that all agreed-upon changes or updates during the project are documented in writing. This helps you and your contractor work together more effectively!


Pardon us while we get a little poetic, but demolition is much more than smashing-down old buildings. It represents the end of one era, and the beginning of a new one.

Okay, maybe that's a little cheesy! But honestly, demolition is truly like bringing new life and possibilities to your property. When done with forethought, precision, and accuracy, it can enhance the value of your property and how you use it.

As you saw in today's article, however, demolition can also be a tricky process that involves many moving parts. Securing the right permits, watching out for asbestos, finding a quality contractor, there's a lot to consider. Taking the time to plan, prepare, and partner with a trusted expert, virtually guarantees you'll see the best possible results.


We also discussed the costs of demolition in Central New York, highlighting they can average from $5,000 to $35,000. The wide range of pricing is due to the various factors that affect demolition costs, including aspects like the size of building and presence of hazardous materials. If you want a more accurate estimation, get in touch with an honest contractor and they can help!
At the end of the day removing that old house or worn-out building doesn't have to be scary, or frustrating, or even overly disruptive. All it takes is the right contractor and a clear vision of a new beginning for your property.
If you'd like to learn more about our demolition services, please get in touch with our friendly team! We're happy to answer questions and provide an honest quote for your project.

Author Information

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    This post was written by the team at CDP Excavating, using our 17+ years of experience helping demolish buildings to make way for new construction in Central New York. CDP Excavating is run by Jason Perry, whose passion for working with the earth goes back to his childhood. Independently-owned and family-run, we're humbled to be a leading choice for removing old homes, sheds, garages, barns, and other structures.

Questions About What You Just Read?

Have questions about demolishing your old home or other building in Central New York? Feel free to get in touch with our friendly team!

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Areas That CDP Excavating Serves in Central New York

Albion, Amboy, Baldwinsville, Boylston, Camillus, Central Square, Cicero, Clay, Cleveland, Constantia, DeWitt, Fabius, Fulton, Geddes, Granby, Hannibal, Hastings, Lacona, Lafayette, Lysander, Manlius, Marcellus, Mexico, Minetto, New Haven, Onondaga, Orwell, Oswego, Otisco, Palermo, Parish, Phoenix, Pompey, Pulaski, Redfield, Richland, Salina, Sandy Creek, Schroeppel, Scriba, Skaneateles, Stafford, Tully, Vanburen, Volney, West Monroe, Williamstown