House Demo vs Removal: Pros and Cons

Time, preparation, consents, costs and more: Do you demolish or remove?

The options when you’ve found the perfect site for your dream home—but it already has a building on it.

Will you need to apply for a building consent, building permit, demolition permit, application under the Resource Management Act — or another piece of essential paper? We’ve used some info from the Auckland City Council requirements as of June 2023 to provide an overview. These may vary, may not apply, or there may be additional requirements according to the type of building, location and future council updates. Please check with your local council for the most current information.

Demolition

Wrecking ball at the ready? Before you dust it off, here’s some basics to consider.

  • PERMITS
    A building consent may not be required to demolish a building from site but that does not mean that you can go ahead willy nilly and remove it. You need to check with the local council planning team, to see if resource consent is needed. A demolition permit and a building permit may need to be obtained prior to any demolition works. Depending on circumstances council consents may be needed for traffic management, dealing with overhead power lines and more.
  • PREPARATION
    It is important that

    • services are correctly terminated by capping and sealing them off inside the boundary
    • hazardous building materials are properly disposed of
    • silt control measures are put in place; and
    • the site is secured to restrict and protect the public from construction dangers. An application for the total demolition, substantial demolition or removal of a building constructed prior to 1944 will be subject to the normal test for notification under the relevant sections of the Resource Management Act. This may cover: Historic heritage and Special Character where the house may contribute significantly to the distinctive quality of the neighbourhood or streetscape character.
  • REMOVAL
    Cost to clear site, load debris and take away can be tens of thousands of dollars.
  • SUSTAINABILITY
    House will go into landfill with no options for recycling.

Removal or Relocation

House on the move—what to consider when it’s time to relocate.

  • PERMITS
    If you want to move or relocate a building—including re-positioning a building on the same site—you may potentially need three different approvals:

    • building consent
    • work over permit for buildings over or close to sewer or stormwater lines on your site
    • resource consent; and
    • permit for over-dimensional load from the NZ Transport Agency.
  • PREPARATION
    It is important that

    • services are correctly terminated by capping and sealing them off inside the boundary
    • hazardous building materials are properly disposed of
    • silt control measures are put in place; and
    • the site is secured to restrict and protect the public from construction dangers.
  • COST
    If you’re moving and/or storing this can add up. You may also be required to pay a bond to ensure compliance with any conditions applied as a result of relocating the building. A street damage deposit may also be required for applications, which involve the relocation of a building. Depending on the type of building, professional removers may offer to buy and move it, saving you a lot of time, money and stress.
  • REMOVAL
    A building consent is required to relocate a building from one site to another. Before applying for a building consent, you will need to engage a third party to inspect the building(s) that you wish to relocate. The third party— such as a Building surveyor or building consultant, Architect, Registered or Certified Builder—will need to provide a written report confirming whether the building(s) are suitable for relocation.

    • Plans drawn to scale, including:
      • site plan (must include location and type of trees and other buildings on site) – floor plan
      • elevations
      • foundation layout and subfloor framing plan
      • subfloor bracing calculations, (note subfloor must be upgraded to comply with the New Zealand Building Code); and
      • Details of any new work being undertaken (plumbing, drainage, means of access into the buildings, etc).
    • A Schedule outlining all works being undertaken as part of the relocation. Whether an easy or tricky move, this will be managed by the removal company. EasyMoves have even transported a house across to Waiheke Island! No nasty surprises for you.
  • STORAGE
    Need to arrange a secure storage site for the building.
  • SUSTAINABILITY
    Stops a house going to landfill, and can be reused.

SELLING

  • TIME
    Get in touch sooner rather than later if planning to sell! How much time until the house needs to be off site, the tighter your schedule the less chance you have to save your building.
  • PREPARATION
    It is important that

    • services are correctly terminated by capping and sealing them off inside the boundary
    • hazardous building materials are properly disposed of • silt control measures are put in place; and
    • the site is secured to restrict and protect the public from construction dangers.
  • CONSENTS
    A building consent is required to relocate a building from one site to another. Before applying for a building consent, you will need to engage a third party to inspect the building(s) that you wish to relocate. The third party— such as a Building surveyor or building consultant, Architect, Registered or Certified Builder—will need to provide a written report confirming whether the building(s) are suitable for relocation.

    The report should include information about

    • the structural integrity of the building
    • the condition of the building
    • how the building will be relocated i.e. will the building be cut to enable it to be transported
    • whether any remedial works are required upon relocation i.e. reinstating any cuts made for transportation, repairs to rotten or damaged framing timber, painting, decoration, re-roofing, recladding, plumbing fixtures, etc
    • whether there is any asbestos present in the existing building
    • whether fumigation is required

    The report must be accompanied by:

    • floor plan showing the existing layout of the building; and
    • photographs of each elevation of the building
  • COST
    You may also be required to pay a bond to ensure compliance with any conditions applied as a result of relocating the building. A street damage deposit may also be required for applications, which involve the relocation of a building. Many house removal companies offer a FREE professional appraisal. Depending on the type of house or building they may offer to buy the house and move it for free. Earns you money.
  • REMOVAL
    Whether an easy or tricky move, this will be managed by the removal company. EasyMoves have even transported a house across to Waiheke Island! No nasty surprises.
  • SUSTAINABILITY
    Rather than going to landfill, you can get paid for your house or building being moved to another site and reused.

Best types of houses to remove or sell.

Some homes are easier to move than others. Usually this comes down to the materials used to build it and site access.

  • Quality condition weatherboard homes or other forms of light cladding (not brick or concrete).
  • Iron or tiled roofs houses. Tiled roofs are more tricky due to weight and durability.
  • Houses with solid wooden floors.
  • Easy site to move home off.
  • Single Story.
  • 90-120sqm and less than 8m wide floor, a one piece move.
  • Character.

OK houses to remove, but not as easy!

While not the ideal, there are still houses that are worth removing. However there may be added time and materials. See if your building is covered here.

  • Homes with add ons or with concrete floors. These may increase the cost of moving and decrease the price of the house if selling.
  • Houses with concrete floors throughout. These can be moved and sold, but require a lot of timber bracing. A new timber floor will then be needed, bringing down the price of the house.
  • Houses with short time restraints.
  • Homes which need significant renovations.
  • Tricky site to move house off.
  • More than one story.
  • More than 8m wide floor.
  • Larger than 120sqm.

Information a professional house mover or buyer will need from you

To smooth the process here’s information we recommend you have before approaching a pro.

  • Street address
  • Photos of inside the house
  • Photos of outside the house
  • Description of layout or floor plan
  • Removal date
  • Structurally sound
  • Access to the site
  • Proof of ownership of the house

To book a FREE appraisal* or find out more, visit our buying houses page

*Terms and Conditions apply

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