Demolition takes careful planning

As land becomes increasingly scarce and expensive in the SA residential property market, two notable trends have emerged: Subdivision of large stands to accommodate two or three homes where there was one, and the demolition and replacement of old homes in sought-after areas. 


Subdivision is clearly evident in established suburbs such as Bryanston, Constantia and Waterkloof, where very large stands were prevalent, while complete rebuilds are noticeable in areas such as Camps Bay and Llandudno, Houghton and Brooklyn in Pretoria. 


But, says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group, as the knock down-rebuild trend comes to the fore, it is increasingly evident that homeowners are not considering proper use or disposal of the building material and rubble that will be generated. 


"Demolition of course means the complete destruction of the old house. But environmental concerns suggest that one should rather consider deconstruction, where a building is carefully taken down and many of the fittings and materials become available for reuse. This recycling can be cheaper than destroying everything - and is much more environmentally friendly." 


It is also essential to plan ahead, before the actual bulldozing takes place. "You will need to obtain a demolition permit for your local authority and will also have to contact the relevant department to disconnect your electricity and water services while the demolition takes place. Then if you happen to have any gas equipment in the home or on the property, this will need to be physically removed from the premises before demolition can take place," says Botha. 


Removal of rubble will have to take place before new building can start and this should also be organised before demolition. There are designated sites for the disposal of building rubble and refuse, and it is important to establish where these are and what the charges are. 


The website, for example, states that building refuse means refuse generated by demolition, excavation or building activities on premises. The local bylaws also state that "disposal site" means a site for the disposal of refuse which is owned by the council or has been approved for the purpose by the city engineer. 




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Meanwhile, the official Johannesburg website ( says clean soil that can be used as landfill cover will be taken free of charge, but that soil mixed with building rubble and other objects will be charged for at R48,58 per 500kg (including VAT). However the rates do differ between local authorities. 


"Homeowners planning to demolish should of course also expect heavy-duty machinery on site such as bulldozers, tractors, excavators and even cranes.

For this reason it is crucial to make use of a professional demolition company, and to ensure that there will be no children or animals on the site during the demolition process."

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