garage demolition

Garage Demolition: Permitting and How-to

If your home or property is decades old, it’s likely that you have an older garage that’s falling into disrepair. Garages that were built before the modern code standards and enforcement were put into place likely aren’t as high-quality as garages that were built in the 21st century. If your garage is turning into a safety hazard, now is the time to act.

You can demolish a garage on your own or hire contractors to complete the project for you. If you decide to perform this project without outside help, this process can be tricky when you’re preparing for it. While it might appear to be a simple project, there are numerous parts that must be put in place before work begins.

It’s likely that your demolition project will require a permit from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS). If you’ve never applied for a permit before, the process of obtaining a demolition permit is relatively simple. This article offers a comprehensive overview of garage demolitions and what requirements must be met.

garage construction

What Homeowners Should Know About Garage Demolition

Demolishing a garage is a major project that significantly alters the appearance of your property, which is why you should be well-versed in garage demolition specifics before going forward with the project at hand.

How Much Does It Cost to Remove a Garage?

There are numerous factors that determine how much it will cost to remove a garage, the primary of which include the garage’s location and the complexity of the project. You can expect to pay around $2,000-$4,000 to have your garage demolished. The main costs associated with this project include:

  • Permit – $100-$200
  • Machine fuel – $50-$100
  • Dump truck and disposal – $400-$500
  • Two-day excavator rental – $1,000-$1,250
  • Dumpster rental and tonnage overage – $850-$1,000
  • Electrician for disconnecting electricity – $125


Getting rid of a garage in a higher-income area will likely cost more than it does when performing the same project in a low-income area. The location of the garage on your property can also determine the price. If your garage is nearby landscaping obstacles and structures, it will be more challenging to remove it, which results in the costs increasing.


When a garage has been anchored directly to a slab of concrete, removal will be costlier. In the event that your garage has been wired for electricity, all of this wiring will need to be disconnected and removed, which will lead to a higher price. Getting rid of a garage varies in price because of how complex the project can be. More complexity equates to a lengthier project timeline, which means higher labor costs.

Disconnect Utilities

The majority of garages have electrical service, which will be obtained from the home’s main panel. While you should be able to disconnect the electricity on your own, it’s highly recommended that you hire an electrician to do so for you. If a gas line or water meter also connects to the garage, it should be disconnected by a professional before work starts on the demolition.

Demolishing the Garage

The most effective method for demolishing a garage is to place a dumpster nearby the garage for quick and easy cleanup. If you use an excavator on your own, you should dismantle the outer portions of the garage before anything else. The roof structures and walls should be collapsed as you progress. Otherwise, these areas of the garage could become unstable.

The machine you’re using should be able to crush the debris to allow for a more efficient cleanup process. After the entire structure has been torn down, the demolition debris should be immediately placed into the dumpster. There’s a good chance that a small amount of debris will remain after cleaning the area. If so, a basic rake is enough to get rid of this debris.


Before you get started on the demolition, you’ll need to apply for a permit to help you with the garage demolition. A demolition permit is a type of document that gives you the ability to legally demolish any structure on your property that required a building permit to create. However, you may still need a demolition permit even if a building permit wasn’t obtained before the structure was built.

When multiple structures are being torn down, a separate permit must be obtained for each building. For instance, a detached garage and shed that exist on the same property will require their own permits. Once you send in a permit application, the permitting authority will review it. This process can be sped up with assistance from a permit expediter.

garage demolition permitting

Permits Required

A building can’t be demolished unless you obtain a permit from the LADBS. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule.


The main exceptions include:

  • Permits aren’t required for work that occurs on land owned by the State of California or the United States of America.
  • Demolishing single-family dwellings and their accessory buildings on the same lot can be combined into one permit.


Before a garage can be demolished, a pre-inspection must be completed by a building inspector on the site where the demolition is set to take place. This process needs to happen before a permit is issued. Separate pre-inspections are required for every building that you expect to demolish.


Along with the pre-inspection guidelines, buildings that are at least 45 years old have additional requirements that must be met before the LADBS will issue a permit. The following actions must occur at least 30 days before the demolition permit is issued.

  • The LADBS will send a written notice of the demolition application to nearby property owners along with the Council District Office.
  • You’ll need to place a placard on your property in the area where the demolition will take place. It must be in a visible place that’s located at least five feet from the front property line. Make sure that you include the date you applied for the pre-inspection.
  • Your placard needs to have a minimum size of 11″ x 17″, be mounted at least four feet off the ground, include all black letters against color or white paper, be made from durable materials, and include block-style letters.

Clearance Required

Some of the clearances that can be required before a demolition permit is issued include:

  • Redevelopment project area
  • Historical preservation overlay zone
  • Historical monuments
  • Coastal Zone Conservation Act
  • Zoning information numbers
  • Rent stabilization
  • OSHA clearance for structures that are at least three stories in height
  • Clearance from Urban Forestry Division of the Department of Public Works when disturbing or removing protected trees

Demolition Procedures

There are many unique requirements and procedures that must be followed when performing a garage demolition. For instance, no structural member of a story can be removed or demolished before the above story is removed in its entirety. The handling and storage of materials must adhere to Section 108.13 of the Los Angeles Building Codes. Keep in mind that free-fall dumping over a building’s exterior wall isn’t permitted if it’s from a height of more than 25 feet.

Protection fences, canopies, and barricades should be used for certain demolition project. Hand wrecking with hand-held tools is permitting for any building type. While smaller wheel-mounted pneumatic tools are permitted, approval must first be obtained by a building inspector.

Loader or dozer wrecking can be used on 1-2 story buildings that have a max wall height of around 24 feet. Make sure that the structure is positioned far away from the public way. Keep in mind that this clearance can be lowered for residential buildings with a wooden frame as long as you follow some basic safety precautions.

As for clam shell wrecking, it can’t be used unless the structure you want to demolish has a distance from an adjoining property or public way of at least one-half the height of this structure.

Cable wrecking is another option for demolition that allows you to complete the project with the use of a cable that’s applied to the entire building or a single wall. The structure you’d like to demolish must be at a distance that’s at least 1.5 times the structure’s maximum height.

Before a permit is issued for cable wrecking, you’ll need to provide the LADBS with a comprehensive description of the technique you’re using and the steps you’re set to take when demolishing the structure. The safety precautions you use should also be given to the LADBS for approval.

Another solution at your disposal is to use ball wrecking. The guidelines for this technique are the same as cable wrecking. However, the separation between your structure and another doesn’t need to be more than 50 feet.

Before you’ll receive a permit that allows you to perform ball wrecking, you or the contractor you hire will need to provide the LADBS with a description of how you’re going to demolish the building with this method. Since cable wrecking and ball wrecking are the two demolition methods that are most likely to cause injury or damage to other properties, these techniques have the most guidelines.

When you want to demolish a garage of any shape or size, you’ll first need to apply for a permit at the LADBS. If this permit is approved, you can begin work on the project immediately. If you’d like to avoid lengthy delays to your project timeline, consider requesting service from a permit expediter like ours who can assist you in anticipating issues and resolving them quickly.

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