Building Demolition – What Is Demolition and What Formalities Does It Require?

Purchasing a building plot in a convenient location in the city or suburbs is becoming increasingly challenging and requires significant financial investment. Therefore, many investors choose to buy a plot with an existing building with the intention of demolishing it and constructing a new house in its place. In many cases, such a plan proves to be very effective and cost-efficient. However, when planning a building demolition, one must take care of the necessary formalities to carry out these construction works in compliance with the applicable regulations.

Table of Contents:

  • Demolition in light of building law

  • When can a house be removed without a construction permit?

  • How to file a demolition application?

  • How to obtain the necessary permit for building demolition?

  • Is it possible to demolish a building listed in the register of monuments?

  • When is a demolition plan required?

  • In which situations is building demolition a good option?

  • Step-by-step house demolition

  • How much does building demolition cost?

  • Who is responsible for building demolition?

Demolition in Light of Building Law

Currently, there is no specific definition of "demolition" in the existing Building Law. However, according to Article 3(7), demolition is considered a type of construction work, which means that it is subject to certain formalities that the investor must remember. Initiating a building demolition without a construction permit can lead to serious penalties. The existing Building Law also highlights the importance of Article 28, which states that construction work can only commence based on the final decision of the construction permit. Exceptions to this rule are introduced in Articles 29 – 31, which also cover demolition.

As a rule, demolition is considered a type of construction work that can only begin after obtaining a construction permit. This might seem somewhat abstract, considering that the work involves removing structures instead of building them. However, the intention was to avoid duplicating various legal provisions while still maintaining control over how investors manage their building plot. Nevertheless, in many cases, demolition of a house might not require a construction permit, and the formalities may be limited to a simple notification process. To do this, refer to Articles 29 – 31 as mentioned above.

When Can a House Be Removed Without a Construction Permit?

In many cases, demolishing a building can be done without the need for a construction permit, only requiring a proper notification. According to Article 31(1), a construction permit is not required for the demolition of the following buildings:

  • Buildings and structures with a height below 8 meters, provided their distance from the plot's boundary is not less than half of their height. These buildings must not be listed in the register of monuments or subject to conservation protection.

  • Buildings and structures for which no construction permit is required, provided they are not listed as monuments.

  • Buildings and structures in closed areas determined by the decision of the Minister of National Defence, excluding objects listed in the register of monuments.

For the above-mentioned buildings, no construction permit for demolition is required. You only need to submit the appropriate notification along with the owner's consent to the district office or the architectural and construction department at the city council. The administrative authority has 30 days to review the matter and raise any objections that would block the start of the construction work. Administrative authorities may determine that the demolition could adversely affect water relations, the environment, or sanitation conditions. Additionally, the authority may find that the demolition poses a threat to other properties. In such cases, the owner of the plot will receive an objection, and obtaining a construction permit will be necessary.

Interestingly, there is a provision that allows for the commencement of securing or demolition works before obtaining a permit or submitting a notification, provided there are factual grounds that the current state poses a danger to human safety or property. In such cases, work can begin earlier to remove the threat. However, this does not exempt the obligation to complete the necessary formalities as soon as possible.

How to File a Demolition Application?

If, after examining the building on your building plot, you are sure that it falls under the category of structures that do not require a construction permit for demolition, you need to file a demolition application. This application must be submitted to the district office or the architectural and construction department at the city council. In the construction works notification, you should include the following information:

  • Name and description of the building,

  • Building height,

  • Distance of the building from the plot's boundary,

  • Exact location,

  • Scope of planned construction works,

  • Method of carrying out the construction works,

  • Expected start date of the works (minimum 21 days from the notification date).

In many cases, an administrative authority may require additional documents needed for a detailed examination of the case. The following attachments may be necessary: land registry map, sketches, drawings, agreements, decisions, opinions, and the owner's consent. The authority has 30 days to review the application. If the owner does not receive a written objection within this time, it is considered silent consent, which allows construction work to commence. However, the authority can raise objections through an administrative decision. Sample reasons for objection include: a building permit is required in the given situation, demolition poses a threat to the safety of people and property, and demolition may have an adverse impact on the environment.

How to Obtain the Necessary Permit for Demolishing a House?

If a building on your construction plot does not qualify as a structure that can be demolished without a permit, or if your application has been rejected, you will need to apply for a construction permit. This involves additional formalities and takes considerably longer than a simple notification. Additionally, a demolition project prepared by a qualified architect may be required. Such a project ensures the planned demolition work is carried out safely. A specialist assessment of the current condition of the structure may also be necessary. Submitting an application for a permit incurs a fee of PLN 36 + PLN 17 in administrative fees. The application for a demolition permit should be accompanied by the necessary attachments, such as:

  • Owner's consent for demolition,

  • Schematic layout of the building,

  • Description of the scope and method of construction work,

  • Demolition project,

  • Description of safety measures for people and property,

  • Confirmation of payment of administrative fees,

Depending on the situation and characteristics of the structure, additional permits may also be required, such as water management permits, permits for construction work on historical monuments, ground survey documentation, and decisions related to environmental conditions. If the application is incomplete, the applicant will be notified and asked to provide the missing information. Only when the application is complete can the waiting period for a decision begin, which should be made within 65 days from the correct submission and acceptance of the application. An additional 14 days are needed for the decision to become legally effective. Only then can demolition work commence.

Can a Building Listed as a Historical Monument be Demolished?

It is possible that a structure on your construction plot is listed in the national register of historical monuments or subject to conservation protection. Is it possible to demolish such a structure? Yes, although it won't be an easy task. The first step is to obtain a decision from the Chief Conservator of Monuments to remove it from the register of historical monuments. Additionally, a permit for construction work near or on the vicinity of a registered historical monument is required. This permit is issued by the regional or municipal conservator of monuments. However, if the historical value of the structure is significant, demolition may not be permitted. In such cases, these structures can only be renovated or refurbished to preserve their appropriate state.

When is a Demolition Project Required?

Sometimes, an essential attachment to an application for a house construction permit is a demolition project prepared by a qualified architect with the necessary credentials. This may be required based on the location of the structure, its dimensions, construction type, and the need to ensure the safety of people and property. A demolition project is definitely required for large and tall buildings situated close to other properties, structures with complex designs, and those with shared walls with other structures. The cost of a demolition project will also depend on these conditions and may be around PLN 2,000.

In Which Situations is Building Demolition a Good Option?

Acquiring a construction plot in a prime location in the city or suburbs is becoming increasingly challenging. Even if you manage to find such a plot, it is often quite expensive. Therefore, many investors opt to purchase a developed construction plot with the intention of demolishing the existing structure and constructing a new building in its place. Even after factoring in demolition costs, this approach can be financially advantageous.

Demolition is not the only option. Investors can also undertake extensive renovations, reconstructions, or expansions of existing structures. In such cases, an expert assessment by a surveyor may be necessary to evaluate the condition of the structure and determine whether construction work can be safely conducted. In the case of agricultural plots, specifically homesteads, expanding an existing structure may be possible for individuals who do not engage in agricultural activities, without the need to convert the plot to non-agricultural use. Many investors take advantage of this provision.

The condition of the foundations is often a determining factor. If they are intact and capable of supporting a new structure, expansion may be a viable solution. Transforming existing utility buildings, such as barns or sheds, into single-family homes is a popular option. However, if the building is in poor condition, demolition and starting anew may be the better, faster, and more cost-effective solution.

Step-by-Step House Demolition

If you are considering demolishing a building to construct a new house in its place, we have prepared a brief step-by-step guide outlining the most important stages of demolition. The process of house demolition involves the following steps:

  1. The first step is to complete formalities, such as notifying construction work or obtaining a construction permit. It is also advisable to prepare a professional demolition project.

  2. Work begins with dismantling the existing fence (if necessary) and securing the area. Promptly arranging waste containers for construction debris is recommended.

  3. The next step is to inspect and disconnect all installation systems to ensure safe work conditions.

  4. The demolition site must be marked with an information sign in a visible location. This is the responsibility of the construction manager or the property owner.

  5. Dangerous areas should be clearly marked by using caution tape to cordon off zones where debris from the demolished structure may fall.

  6. Demolition work follows a specific sequence: windows and doors are removed first, followed by equipment, installations, and steel elements; then comes the removal of the roof covering and the roof itself, and finally, the demolition of partition and load-bearing walls.

  7. If the building's foundations are "sound" and suitable for supporting a new house, securing the foundations may be sufficient, and demolition work can end there.

  8. If the foundations are not suitable for reuse, they must be demolished, and excavated areas should be backfilled properly. The terrain should be compacted and leveled.

  9. The final step is thorough site cleanup, including meticulous sorting of all waste and construction debris.

  10. If a construction permit was required for the demolition, the completion of work must be reported to the appropriate administrative authority.

The duration of demolition work depends on the specific characteristics of the structure, the construction technology employed, as well as the surface area and height. Work should be conducted in a thoughtful and organized manner to ensure the safety of people and property. If specialized equipment is used for demolition (a more expensive option compared to manual demolition), it is possible to complete house demolition within a few days. Manual demolition, on the other hand, may take several weeks.

What is the Cost of Building Demolition?

The cost of demolition primarily depends on the construction technology used for the building and the materials utilized. While demolishing a wooden house built using a frame technology is relatively quick, straightforward, and pleasant, the demolition of a concrete or other durable masonry building may require specialized equipment and more time. This leads to a significant price range, which can vary from PLN 50 per cubic meter to as much as PLN 200 per cubic meter. This means that demolishing a 100m2 house (with an approximate volume of 500m3) may cost between PLN 25,000 and PLN 100,000. While manual demolition is cheaper, it is a longer and more labor-intensive method. Ultimately, opting for more expensive demolition with specialized equipment might be a more cost-effective solution.

Who is Responsible for Building Demolition?

If a building can be demolished without a construction permit, the property owner can carry out the demolition themselves. In cases where a construction permit is required, it is necessary to appoint a construction manager. Their responsibilities include securing the area, posting an information sign, overseeing work progress, and maintaining a demolition journal. Choosing a qualified construction company is the best option, ensuring that all work is carried out professionally and safely.

New House is a construction company that offers comprehensive construction services, including demolition and removal of existing structures. We assist investors in handling the necessary formalities and then proceed step by step with professional demolition work. Demolition can be a stage in a longer collaboration, leading to the construction of a new house. Our company is characterized by a skilled and experienced team, professional equipment, and punctuality. We are pleased to help you quickly and efficiently remove the existing building to make way for your dream home.



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