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What does it cost to tear down and rebuild a home in Vancouver?

Updated: May 4, 2023

As a building design and interior design firm in Vancouver, we get asked this question A LOT. Our Builders also get asked this question A LOT.

Every time someone calls them for a quote, they want to know ‘What does it cost to tear down and rebuild a home in Vancouver?”. This puts the designer or builder in a tough position. We want to answer your questions and be as helpful as possible, but need to consider a number of things to start getting close to accurate pricing and unfortunately, there’s no cookie cutter answer.

What we CAN give you are three additional costs you’ll be certain to pay when considering a tear down rebuild project.

First of all, what qualifies as a Tear Down Rebuild?

A tear-down is an existing single-family dwelling on an existing lot that is acquired for the specific purpose of ‘tearing down’ the existing dwelling and then constructing a new single-family dwelling within the existing zoning by-law provisions and allowable building footprint.

Cost #1: Abatement

Abatement in simple terms is the safe testing and removal of hazardous materials in the existing structure before demolition.

You will need first need to test for Asbestos.

Asbestos Testing - How Much Does It Cost?

To get the most cost effective abatement, have your hazmat (hazardous materials) report done as soon as possible. It will allow you to understand the full scope and related costs involved.

Limited reports covering specific work can be as low as $400-$800. Typically, most homes will fall between $1200-$2000 range. Factors are size of home and areas deemed to contain possible hazardous materials such as textured ceilings, duct or drywall tape, attic insulation, flooring, roofing, etc. You can see how costs an easily begin to creep up.

TIP: It’s wise to talk to a tear down rebuild professional or builder. Ask them who they use, most will gladly help coordinate that on your behalf.

How Much Does it Cost To Remove Asbestos?

Removal costs vary widely on scope of work, risk level, access and amount of waste generated. Materials required and timeline also play a factor.

In Vancouver, there are also third party consultant costs required to do the testing and proper remediation monitoring.

On average these costs range from $15-25K (and up) depending on your situation.

Asbestos Types
Asbestos Types

Trying to save yourself some money by ‘Do-it-yourself’ asbestos removal?

Typically, this is very discouraged. This is not seen as a process where one can learn by doing. Complex safety protocols and procedures have been mapped out by professionals who understand processes must be followed to protect workers and occupants.

It makes sense that unless you’ve had the proper training - this is just a bad idea in general. You can also face heavy environmental fines if the work is not executed to city safety standards.

Cost #2: Deconstruction (Demolition)

Deconstruction ties into the above cost in that a majority of the expense will come from careful deconstruction of the home before the excavator machine comes along and tears it to the ground.

Often machine charges are quoted by the machine operator (or company) who is doing the work. The builder gets a quote for the work just like he would with any other trade and incorporates that into the build/demolition fee.

In many cases the fees for abatement and demolition/deconstruction are tied into one another so you’ll see one maybe two line items in the proposed budget relating to these fees but in reality there are several costs involved. It makes it easier and less complicated for the builder to put them into one or two numbers and then go through what those costs entail more in detail with the client in discussions over the course of the abatement process.

Average cost for demolition/deconstruction can add up to another $10,000 to $18,000 based on size of home and complexity. There will be some overlap between this number and the above costs for Asbestos (or other hazardous materials) removal so overall numbers can still remain in the above fees and not count in addition to those fees.

Meaning, the total cost for Abatement and Demolition can vary from $15,000 to $40,000 (and up on larger homes) in total.

Why so much for just knocking down a house?

A bulletin from the city of Vancouver explains this in their article on demolition permits, (you can find that link here

‘Demolition’ involves rapidly knocking-down and removing a house using heavy equipment. It usually takes a couple of days and produces tonnes of mixed demolition waste. Mixed demolition waste generally ends up in the landfill because it is difficult to separate various materials for recycling. The City of Vancouver no longer allows this. Many joined municipalities are also joining Vancouver on this to incorporate new environmental standards in the way the housing industry treats its waste.

‘Deconstruction’ means taking apart the house more carefully and systematically instead of knocking it down rapidly with heavy equipment. By using deconstruction techniques, wood and other materials can be separated, sorted, and can be more easily reused and recycled (much like the way you separate your household waste for recycling).

Deconstruction requires an increase in time and costs as it involves a crew with additional personnel. Again - this is a mandatory requirement of The City of Vancouver on all tear down rebuild projects.

City of Vancouver Demolition Permit

Lastly - Cost #3 - Demolition Permit

Is your house built before 1940’s? You’ll need a Demolition Permit with Recycling Requirements

The cost of this type of demolition permit has four components:

  1. Demolition permit fee

  2. Building permit fee

  3. Cost-of-work fee, based on the estimated retail cost of the demolition work.

  4. Demolition waste compliance fee ($350)

These amounts only apply to the demolition permit itself. The fees structure above varies depending on several factors so we’ve included a link to their website where you can view the actual fees schedule to gather more info. View fee schedule here

As stated on their website - “Minimum reuse and recycling requirements apply to demolition waste when you demolish a house built before 1940. Which means The City wants demolition materials to be dealt with in a responsible manner: reusing as much as possible, recycling as much as possible, and disposing of hazardous materials properly.”

“Starting April 1, 2016, you need to pay a $350 non-refundable ‘waste compliance fee’ as part of your demolition permit to ensure that Green Demolition Bylaw compliance reviews are done promptly.”

Currently this demolition permit fee is $15,000. (This will decrease to $14,650 once the compliance fee in in effect.) Which means the deposit will be refunded if the requirements are met. Otherwise the fees are prorated against the penalties and refund is dependent on the level of compliance the city deems the builder has achieved.

Demolition permit with no recycling requirements

When taking down a house that was built in or after 1940, there is no required reuse and recycling rate which greatly reduces the permit fees. This is called and Demolition Permit with no Recycling Requirements and can also be sourced in the link to the fees schedule above.

However, the City wants you to commit to recycle, therefore they’ve given incentives to speed up the demolition permit process by voluntarily committing to reuse and recycle a minimum of 75% of demolition materials. When you are meet these reuse and recycling rates, you can get your demolition permit faster. Which quite frankly is always the case when it comes to building a new home. Time is money when it comes to the build schedule and often clients (and the builder) are looking to find ways to expedite the permit process and get started on the demolition/build process as soon as possible.

Make sure to subscribe to our blog or check back with us for the next article in the #TDRB Series: “Tear Down Rebuild, Is It A Good Option For You?” where we’ll discuss what key factors of an existing home make for a good Tear Down Rebuild candidate, including valuable TIPS from our design team and what common pitfalls to avoid before planning your design.

If you have any questions you’d like us to answer, or would like to leave comment please do so! We’re more than happy to respond. OR if you’re interested in finding out more about our Complimentary Site Feasibility Report, please free free to contact us direct at or Call Us at 604-670-7668

We’d love to hear from you!


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