Use deconstruction when remodeling to save money
There’s a growing trend toward deconstruction of older buildings. Environmentally savvy contractors are deconstructing buildings, room by room, and handpicking items to be salvaged, reused or recycled.
What is deconstruction?
Deconstruction is disassembly of a building that allows you to recover the maximum amount of materials for re-use. Re-use requires less energy and fewer raw materials than recycling by continuing the life of the material. There are also many opportunities for recycling with deconstruction.
Deconstruction for re-use and recycling:
- Reduces the cost of debris removal and disposal
- Provides low cost building materials
- Minimizes use of landfills
Deconstruction also saves natural resources, as quality materials such as bricks and lumber can be reused. Clean items can be sent to an architectural salvage company where others can purchase them for a variety of projects.
Recycled lumber, in particular, is growing in popularity as homeowners use it for rustic flooring, wall coverings and countertops. The Deconstruction Institute estimates that one 2,000-square-foot home has the potential to yield 6,000 board-feet of reusable lumber alone – an amount equal to 33 mature trees.
While total deconstruction might not be appropriate for your building or remodeling project, if you know what can and cannot be re-used or recycled, you will likely find opportunities to do both, saving money and natural resources as you do.
Guide to re-use, recycling and disposal
- Re-use timbers, large dimension lumber, rafters and joists with grade markings, wood siding, tongue and groove flooring, bead board, plywood, intact trim, wall studs with grade markings, stair rails, chair rails, mantles, and porch posts.
- Recycle unpainted and untreated wood unfit for reuse
- Dispose of painted, pressure-treated or rotting wood
For 1-inch thick lumber, save a minimum of 3-foot lengths. For 2-inch thick lumber, save 4-foot lengths. Save siding in 3-foot lengths or greater.
- Re-use intact units in good working order
- Recycle metal frames and screens, unpainted and untreated wood
- Dispose of glass, damaged wood, painted items
Cabinets and doors
- Re-use doors, reface cabinets in good condition, consider reusing in shop/garage
- Recycle hardware and unpainted and unfinished wood
- Dispose of painted or finished wood
- Re-use sinks, faucets, tubs, showers, claw-foot tubs
- Recycle metal pipe, toilets, inefficient fixtures (not low-flow), faucets with lead content
- Dispose of pvc and other plastic pipe, toilet seats
- Re-use timbers, stone, concrete
- Recycle untreated, unpainted wood
- Dispose of rotting, treated or painted wood
- Re-use sheathing in good condition and metal, terra cotta or slate tiles
- Recycle metal roofing, untreated cedar shingles
- Dispose of treated cedar shingles
- Re-use batt insulation if clean and dry and rigid foam board
- Recycle smaller rigid foam board pieces, clean loose-fill
- Dispose of rock wool, duct insulation
Brick, stone and concrete/masonry
- Re-use brick and stone if it can be easily separated and cleaned
- Recycle concrete
Tools you may find helpful
- Axe (small and large)
- Cats paw
- Chain saw
- Crow bar
- Drill, cordless
- Ladders (fiberglass preferred)
- Measuring tape
- Saws: bow saw, hand saw, hack saw rotary saw, saw with grinder and wood cutting blades
- Screw drivers regular and Phillips head
- Pry bars
- Tin snips
- Vise grips
- Wire and bolt cutters
- Wrenches, adjustable
Deconstruction is considered demolition and is covered by the OSHA Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 29 Part 1926 for Labor.