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Demolishing a House

There are times when it becomes necessary to demolish a house: for example, if it has been abandoned for so long that it has become a danger to the neighborhood or if it has been structurally damaged by a storm. Other times, a house can be demolished because the owner wishes to build an updated structure on the same property.

The demolition process itself usually only takes a few hours and is not necessarily expensive. If you are thinking of demolishing a house, consider the following:

  • Assess what features in the house still have value. Carpeting, lighting and plumbing fixtures, and kitchen cabinets and appliances can sometimes be sold; or you may be able to get a tax credit by donating them to charity. There are businesses that will conduct a pre-demolition sale for you. If the house is old enough, firms that deal in antique wood may be interested in buying the floor boards, paneling, or doors. Architectural salvage companies may purchase any significant architectural features.
  • Be aware of local codes and ordinances. You may need to get a permit and pay a fee before demolishing a house. In some areas there are waiting periods, or a review board may determine whether the house has any historical significance that would make it undesirable to tear down. You may be required to protect any valuable trees on the property by fencing them off so that their roots and branches are not damaged during the demolition process.
  • Make sure the demolition company you hire has the capacity to haul away the debris generated by demolition. You donít want to be left with a huge pile of trash. Remember that old houses often contain substances such as lead or asbestos that require special handling.
  • If the house has a basement, you will be left with a large hole in the ground. It will need to be fenced off or filled in so that it is not a danger to the neighborhood. Some areas will require you to keep the empty lot neat by mowing the grass and maintaining the landscaping.

If you live in a rural area, you may be able to get your local fire company to burn down your house. Firefighters need to practice their skills, so they will occasionally set a controlled fire that will burn up the house you want to get rid of.

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