The cost of demolition-related activities varies greatly based on the size and condition of the structure.
Demolishing several blighted houses in a row makes sense, and it helps to reduce costs. However, it is not always feasible. The Detroit Land Bank Authority does not have the authority to demolish blighted privately-owned houses. That is, it can knock down only properties that it owns.
The abatement of asbestos and other hazardous materials greatly impacts the cost of a demolition. Some structures are loaded with asbestos-containing materials and can cost as much as $15,000 to abate, while others have few or no abatement costs. Houses that are severely burned often do not have inspection or abatement costs. However, all debris must be treated as hazardous and asbestos-containing materials, and must be disposed of in special landfills with higher tipping fees. The complexity of the project and the expertise required on site also affects the cost.
Trucking and clean fill dirt add to the cost of demolition. A significant effort has been undertaken to make sure that open holes are filled with uncontaminated soil, which often requires bringing it in from farther away. Since these holes are next to homes, we also require 4 inches of topsoil and that each lot is smoothed out and planted with grass seed.
The City chooses best practices over cutting corners. State and federal regulations controlling demolition exist to protect public health, the environment, and the safety of demolition contractors. Detroit’s demolition program has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for using the best demolition practices in the country, and has been held up as a model for other cities. Beyond protecting residents, following these regulations enables the Detroit Land Bank Authority to avoid hefty fines from regulators, and prevent having to return grant funds for a lack of compliance. It also positions the Land Bank and the City for future state and federal funding.