Wrecking Balls (of the Demolition kind, sorry Miley)

Demolition - Before the Build of our New Home

How I would do our demolition differently.

Well, what took probably a year to build and will take a year to replace was gone in just two days.  The site of our new home in Bentleigh has now been cleared for construction.

Last week I wrote about how to hire a demolition crew (or how not to!).

The new demolition crew did a good job, but the bill blew out by about $4000 with a number of contract additions like additional asbestos removal and various factors on site they hadn’t initially taken into account when quoting.

Ultimately, it’s difficult to completely avoid budget blowouts on a new home build.

But throughout the process I felt like I had no option to disagree or decline the variation in additional fees. What would they do?

Leave some asbestos on site?

Remove only part of the fence?

However, I have a sneaking suspicion that I need to work on my assertiveness above all else.

I feel concerned going forward that if I manage the build myself – rather than have my husband as the main point of contact – that I’ll need to be able to stand my ground with predominantly male suppliers and tradies.

It can be tough if you’re a woman who’s managing the building process or home renovations. But you’re not alone!   Below is a list of the things I would have done differently to manage the demolition process. I hope you can find something in here that helps you, too!

Doing Demolition Differently


  1. Meet the contractor on site

Meet the contractor on site prior to the job to assist in quotation.  If you are a regular you’ll know I did try this route but a last minute change of contractor would have benefitted from meeting me on site to ensure an accurate quotation.  If you meet them on site you can be specific about:

  • what is to stay and go
  • which trees and outbuildings to keep
  • they can help plan to lift or move heavy things you can’t before the demo starts
  • how to treat or deal with services connections (make sure they don’t accidentally take your water metre, that’ll cost you)
  • any areas of fencing or gates to be retained
  • any other site factors like access that may affect the quotation


  1. Asbestos Sampling

Request that the Asbestos Sampling is completed before you start your demolition.  Asbestos sampling means engaging a professional to come in and safely remove 10c piece size samples of building materials in the home to determine if they contain Asbestos and therefore require safe removal before general demolition.

It means you’ll be in complete control of the quantity of asbestos removal.  No samples were taken at my place so everyone was operating off assumptions.

Because the quantity was initially underestimated, it ended up costing more.  I received a call part-way through the demolition to say they had ‘found’ more in the floors of the bathroom and laundry, which is highly probable.

However, I was completely at their mercy, which I could have avoided had I gotten an Asbestos Register done by Jim’s Building Inspectors before they started.


  1. Mark everything correctly

When the boys arrive to tear down the place, they rely on you clearly marking what trees you want removed. ‘X’ means ‘take it away’ and encircling the tree in hazard tape means ‘keep’.

I miss-marked my trees, so I nearly risked losing the ones I wanted to stay!

You’ll also need to correctly mark ancillary structures.  These are things like garden sheds, swing sets and sandpits. Otherwise, be really clear on the day of estimating that they are to stay.

I would recommend even supplying the demolition contractor with a mud map marking any additional structures to go or stay.


  1. Sort out the heavy lifting waaaay in advance

Maybe this says more about my relationship than the demolition and new home build, but it frustrated the fuck out of me when my husband went interstate for work without sorting the heavy lifting.

There were two pot plants I couldn’t move, an oversized BBQ, an old, extremely heavy antique butcher’s block, and the ridiculously large trampoline that I wanted moved to the side of the yard.

All of this needed to be done to ensure that they weren’t accidentally demoed, and to make sure the entire block was scraped to prepare for site works.

His excuse? He felt the demo guys would just take care of it. Which in the main, they did, but I had to organise it with them.


I guess I’ll have opportunities to practise my assertiveness skills a bit closer to home.

I want to hear from you!

Would you like to absorb some assertiveness from Dee off The Block?

What practical skills have you developed to increase your ability to work on a level playing field with predominantly male tradies?

Is this entire gender imbalance in my head?

If this strikes close to your heart, check out my response on the return of Dee to The Block: Triple Threat

About Suzanne Commerford

Suzanne has stepped out from behind the desk of Australia's largest home inspection business to build the skills, confidence and independence of women to tackle maintenance and home improvement projects around the home.

One Comment

  • Penelope says:

    I got our contractors to explain everything to me that was planned for the week ahead (Monday morning site meeting). I figured if they couldn’t explain it, they’d have a hard time doing it. Ask questions, everyone loves talking about their job if they are passionate about it. Really good communication, which is necessary in any relationship, is key.

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