GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Demolishing existing building with asbestos

igrigos | Posted in General Questions on

Hey all, We are currently looking at a property in central Massachusetts with a condemned older house on it (to be demolished), where we are hoping to build a small, pretty good house.

The house on the property has been condemned for a number of years, and has a fairly sizable hole in the roof. While most of the house is in ok condition (not caving in), there is a portion of the house underneath the roof leak where the ceiling has come down and the floor is definitely not stable.

At this point, we assume there’s asbestos throughout (can’t be sure, but there is asbestos siding and the interior looks like it’s from the 60’s). Obviously we will need abatement prior to demolition, but I don’t really have any insight into how something like this is accomplished in an unsafe structure. Can someone explain the process and costs associated with abating a house that has an unsafe area? I know cost can vary by orders of magnitude, but I’m trying to get a rough idea ahead of time.


GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. onslow | | #1


    Simple answer, only buy the lot after someone else pays for the demolition and certification that the lot is safe to build on. DO NOT under any circumstance assume the liability for the performance of the work. The entire structure, as well as the soil around the house is most likely also affected by lead and asbestos. Any dust or transfer of lead or asbestos waste to adjacent properties would become your problem to abate - at your cost.

    There is a very good reason that the property has been condemned for several years..... and not been purchased. NO ONE wants to pay for the removal. Real estate flippers are not usually stupid. Unless you can purchase the lot for one dollar, then the removal cost will almost certainly be prohibitive. How would you judge a realistic price for the lot without knowing the removal costs?

    If you are absolutely determined to have this location for some really important reason, then contact local CERTIFIED demolition companies. (if they exist) Ask what they certify and how they test, how long they guarantee against newly discovered contaminants. Remember you will almost certainly have to replace water and septic lines to meet new code. Ask for costs of similar jobs. If they won't give you any cost ideas, walk away. The excuse of "every job is different" for pricing means you will have no way to guarantee cost limits. You may find that demolition companies will not even touch the house job until all hazardous materials are removed. This could mean the asbestos siding you suspect is present could be an additional cycle of removal, certification and costs.

    The home we left behind in the midwest was scheduled for demolition. We had to show that all pesticides and hazardous materials were removed. We had to convince the idiots involved that the shingle siding was asphalt not asbestos. Do not assume the people that show up know what they are doing. Get everything in writing. The paperwork proving the house was "safe" to demolish cost us nearly $2000. Imagine if we had asbestos siding. Massachusetts is notorious for high remediation costs.

    Think very hard about the location. Is it really so very special that you can't find something else? I think the market has already decided that. It is still unsold.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |