2022 Boise Idaho Real Estate Blog

Top 5 Things to Consider When Tearing Down a House

Main Idaho Real Estate Insights

Older developed neighborhoods may have little vacant land available but do have old homes for sale. Home that may be past the point of renovating. Buying land with the intent to tear it down can make economic sense. 

There are many steps in buying a house to tear down for purposes of re-building and having your team in place from the start is important. Your team should include an architect (for fully custom builds, some builders already have architects on their team), a builder, a real estate agent, a mortgage lender. Either the builder or the architect needs to be familiar with local codes and restrictions for the process.   The team will need to work together to ensure that the home and land will meet all the requirements so a new house can be built on it.  Miss any of the critical considerations below then the entire plan will fail. 

Important Things To Consider when tearing down a house

Building Permits

Step 1 is to verify if a permit is needed to tear down a home. Tearing it down can have environmental impacts that local governments may required  specific guidelines to remove it. They will require hazardous items be propperly disposed of.  

Demolishing homes is more than just knocking everything down and loading all debris up into a dumpster.  You have to consider lead paint, lead solder joining copper piping, lead pipes, aluminum wiring, asbestos and more. Learning about the process demolition will make sure environmental rules and regulations are followed so that the current land and land around it do not have future contamination issues. Your builder or Architect should be an expert in this!

You also need to verify that  you are allowed to buld a  new home? Does the old home have any historical significance? Or does the local Historical Soociety believe it does? Would your new home be similar in character to the neighborhood? Paying a visit to the local building department and discussing your to do can be accomplished.


Zoning is another important consideration.  If you are looking to build a multi-family house, verify that the zoning rules allow this type of building?  If current zoning regulations do not allow multi-family buildings, you may need to seek a zoning variance or seek to have the zoning changed which may be even more difficult depending on the neighborhood and the neighbors.

Zoning regulations also come into play if the size or heighth of the new house? Zoning regulations can restrict homes that are too small (such as tiny homes) as well as can impose maximum sizes of a house. They can even limit room counts as well as limit how much land is required to build a home upon.  You can also check if their are any grandfathering rules.

Septic System Considerations              

If where the new home to be built already has sewer lines, the use of a septic system does not need to be even considered;  as long as a sewer connection can be made to the new house.  If there are no sewer lines, the new home may require a new septic system if it is much larger than the old home as septic systems are designed and built based on the size of a home.  The costs for taking out the old septic system and installing a new septic system along with permits can add significantly to the overall price of a home.

Financing Considerations

Buying an existing home with the intent of tearing it down and building a new home requires different types of financing. Ultimately a new home is to be built and for that generally new construction mortgage loans are needed.  Depending on the price of the old home, the mortgage will likley have to cover both the purchase of the old home as well as include mortgage considerations financing for building the new home.  The traditional mortgage does not envision a homeowner tearing down an existing home and requires the home to be kept in good condition.  As a result a mortgage lender needs to be invovled in the process as early as possible to make sure the proper mortgage options are used.

The Bottom Line

Tearing down an old home to build a new one is a great plan to build your dream home but it requires that everyone does their due diligence. A plan must be in place and presented to everyone involved from financing to the builder to local goverment officials as well as possibly a historical society.

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Posted by tlangford at 6/4/2019 11:32:00 PM

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