When Is Demolition Better Than Retention?

When Is Demolition Better Than Retention?

If you’re embarking on a construction project involving a structure that needs significant work, the decision of whether or not to demolish this building can seem daunting. The merits of demolition versus retention is a hotly debated topic, with the decision ultimately dependent on the specific needs of your project.

But what exactly do these terms mean, and when should you prioritise demolition over retention? The team here at Hill Demolition has written this useful article, to help guide you through the process and ensure your building project is on track for success.

What is demolition?

Demolition refers to the act of tearing down a building or structure by dismantling all foundations, walls and roofs to make way for a completely clear site. This process provides a blank slate to start a new construction project. However, demolition can be a hazardous undertaking and requires a professional company with the appropriate tools, equipment and training to ensure safety.

Several factors may influence the decision to opt for demolition, including the age, location and condition of the building. A professional demolition company can assess these factors and advise you on the best course of action for your project.

What is retention?

Retention is a construction process that preserves or maintains a building’s exterior whilst making all the necessary renovations and replacements to the interior structure. Commonly referred to as façade retention, this renovation method aims to conserve the building’s original features and aesthetic whilst improving its structural integrity. 

Retention has many benefits, including sustainability, cost-effectiveness and the preservation of historical and cultural features. However, this may not be feasible for every building. In some cases, the poor condition of the building may mean that demolition is the only safe and viable option.

In what circumstances is demolition better than retention?

Structural issues

We all want to feel safe and secure in our homes and workplaces, and a building with significant structural issues just won’t cut it. Structural problems can compromise the safety and stability of a building and may pose a serious risk to occupants, adjacent properties and pedestrians. In cases of severe structural damage, the cost of repairs and retention may outweigh the cost of demolition, making it the most financially viable option.

Public safety

Older buildings were not bound by the same construction standards as modern properties. Therefore, they may contain harmful substances such as asbestos, lead paint or mould, which can be dangerous to the health of building occupants. If these hazardous materials are widespread and difficult to remove safely, demolition may be a necessary course of action in the interest of public safety. 

Redevelopment opportunities

If a building is located on a prime plot of land with high redevelopment potential, demolition can be a financially beneficial option. For example, demolishing an old warehouse located in a business district and replacing it with a modern office building may stimulate economic growth and bring prosperity and more employment opportunities to local people. In this instance, demolition leads to benefits, not just for the building owner, but for the area’s infrastructure and the local community as well.

Creative freedom

When demolishing a building, you are given the opportunity for complete creative freedom. Unlike façade retention, where you are bound by the original structure, demolition allows you to start from scratch with no limitations. This means you can design and construct a new building that meets your exact specifications. Additionally, a new building can be constructed using more modern materials and technology, potentially resulting in a more durable and sustainable structure.


With over 50 years of industry experience, Hill Demolition are your local demolition experts, operating across London, Hertfordshire, Essex and beyond. If you’re struggling to decide between façade retention and demolition, our experienced team can talk through your plans and provide trusted advice and a comprehensive quote. 

Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help with your project.

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