Residential demolition is the partial or total removal of any structures on residential property. A partial demolition often involves stripping out the structure’s interior, usually as part of a major renovation. The total demolition of a residential structure is typically necessary when it’s too old or badly damaged to be worth repairing to a usable state. However, usable structures may also be demolished to clear the property for some other purpose, such as another structure or landscaping. The steps for residential demolition may be organized into the following phases:

Residential Demolition Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga CA image
  • Contractor selection
  • Inspection
  • Utilities disconnection
  • Removal of salvageable materials
  • Demolition
  • Site preparation

Contractor Selection

A demolition contractor should be licensed and insured for this purpose. Obtain at least three written estimates, and ensure they describe who will pay for any permits that will be required for the demolition project.

Utilities Disconnection

Disconnect all utilities to the structure, including electricity, gas, sewer and water.


The actual demolition of a residential structure may require several days. The contractor will typically use heavy equipment such as a hydraulic excavator to tear the structure down and place the unwanted construction material into a truck or debris container. A total demolition typically involves removing all materials on the site down to the dirt, including the foundation.


A residential structure generally needs to be inspected for hazardous materials, although the specific requirements vary by state. Asbestos and lead paint are the most common hazardous materials in older structures, which will require proper procedures for removal and disposal. Demolition contractors may perform these services themselves or subcontract them to another contractor that specializes in removing environmental hazards.

Material Removal

Remove any salvageable materials. Demolition contractors are often able to remove materials from a residential structure that can be reused or recycled. These materials may also be sold or donated.

Site Preparation

A demolition contractor may also prepare the site if you’re building another structure on it. The same heavy equipment used in the demolition can often be used for site preparation tasks such as grading the property or excavating a basement.

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