So you bought the ramshackle property, possibly a snap decision at auction, you were full of ideas about how wonderful the renovation was going to be but the survey has just come in and you’re thinking, “I might as well just knock it all down and start again”.
There is no doubt that there comes a point where renovation becomes non-viable and rebuilding will be cheaper.
Access is so much better with a new build as the layers are built up on top of one another, in an order that all the trades are familiar with rather than them having to work around each other.
Also the removal of bad materials, cutting back until you find the bits that are in a good enough condition to build onto, is a slow and expensive process.
If you get to that stage, it is wise to assume that you cannot demolish the property until you have received a clear ok from the authorities.
It’s hard to give a clear-cut view as to whether a demolition will be allowed or not as there are many different aspects to consider and each case will be different.
But almost any demolition will need permission of some kind, even if it’s only partly demolishing a building. Only garages, shed and outbuildings of fifty cubic metres or less are exempt from the planning permission requirement, for example.
You will need to apply for permission for the rebuilt structure in any case, and the demolition of the existing property can be tackled in the same application.
Certainly if you are in an area that has planning restrictions, such as a Conservation Area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), there may well be difficulty in getting permission to demolish.
In a Conservation Area you will need ‘conservation area consent’, and if it’s a listed building, you will need ‘listed building consent’ both of which will be available through the local authority’s planning office
There are basically two options for the demolition, slowly and carefully so as to be able to re-use or sell the materials, or fast and cheap and it all goes in the landfill.
According to a DEFRA study, nearly a quarter of all construction and demolition waste ends up in landfill sites, and with the rising tide of ecological sensitivity, many people will be trying to reduce that.
If you are rebuilding the property exactly as it was, at least to the external view, you will probably want to dismantle it carefully and store internal features, such as fireplace and mouldings, and basic materials, such as brick, stone and roof tiles, that can be reused,
But re-using them means cleaning them, checking that they’re in good enough condition, and placing them in an out of the way position so that they will keep safe until they are needed.
Hard Economic Reality
To be brutally honest, all that care takes time, time is money, and there is no doubt that, unless the materials that you must rebuild with are exorbitantly expensive, two days with a bulldozer and a succession of skips, then buying new material, is likely to be a lot cheaper.
Even if you aren’t re-using the material yourself, but selling them on as architectural salvage, it’s touch and go as to whether or not this would yield enough to recover your costs, depending on the salvage value.
This needs carefully financial analysis and an examination f your own motives before deciding which road to go down.