The number 40 is significant to a demolition contractor because it represents the percentage of waste in landfills that comes from construction and demolition debris. With eco-friendly solutions becoming the norm in home building and design, it makes sense to recycle what you don’t need and reuse what you can as much as possible.
Salvaging and recycling materials in a deconstruction project lowers your disposal and removal costs.
A green home remodel starts with home deconstruction. This means you trade sledge hammers for an eco-friendly demolition contractor. When you deconstruct, you take a home apart piece by piece instead of tear it down as quickly as possible. While this process takes more time, it allows you to salvage materials to sell, donate, recycle or reuse during the remodel.
Only those with experience should take on a home deconstruction project, because it can expose you to toxins like asbestos, lead and formaldehyde. So it’s best to play it safe by hiring a contractor specializing in green demolitions or salvage specialist such as metal scrappers and recyclers.
Items You Can Salvage or Reuse
The following materials can generally be reused or recycled in some way. If you don’t want to use old materials from the deconstructed part of your home but still want to make your remodel green, you can “trade up” by purchasing similar items from a retailer that sells salvaged building materials.
Cabinet doors and drawers
Lumber longer than 6 feet
Concrete (when crushed, you can use it as gravel)
Benefits of Salvaging, Reusing and Recycling Materials
Reduce waste. One of the top benefits of reusing, salvaging and recycling building materials is diversion of waste that would otherwise end up in the nation’s landfills. As previously mentioned, 40% of the waste in U.S. landfills is construction debris, and much of it is reusable. By using salvaged items in your own remodel project, you keep waste out of landfills and reduce the energy and raw materials needed to produce new items. After recycling the products you can’t salvage, donate or sell, you’ll find that the true waste from your remodel project is exponentially less than originally imagined.
Cost savings. When you reuse building materials you salvaged, you save money on the cost of your remodel. If you do need to purchase materials, you’ll find that used materials cost 50 to 75% less than their new counterparts – and work just as well.
Salvaging and recycling materials also lowers your disposal and removal costs. Before you start your deconstruction project, call a retailer that sells salvaged materials to see if it will take away items from your home free of charge. Some retailers will even purchase your salvaged materials for cash or store credit. If you have larger items, donate them to a nonprofit organization for a tax deduction, or call a scrapper who will usually do all the removal for free.
Where to Buy and Sell Salvaged Construction Materials
There are several businesses and online opportunities to sell and find salvaged materials around the U.S. Such places include:
Reuse stores. These retailers sell salvaged or used building materials, accept donated materials and sometimes purchase materials from customers. Some of these stores are open to the public, while others restrict their customer base to low-income homeowners and nonprofit agencies.
Salvage stores. Salvage stores tend to sell used items that are more high-end or “architecturally significant,” like antique sinks, fine brass hardware, chandeliers or quality reclaimed wood. Visit these stores to find special, vintage or antique materials. An example of a salvage store is Olde Good Things, which sells items online and in New York City, Los Angeles and Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Material exchanges. Such exchanges let business and individuals buy and sell salvaged materials. A couple of examples include Craigslist and eBay.
A home remodel project doesn’t have to burden your budget or the environment. By choosing to be more eco-conscious about your disposal methods and purchasing decisions, your beautiful, magazine-worthy results will make you feel proud of to show off the new space. Contact a green demolitions contractor or scrapper to learn more about getting started with your project.