Reclaimed materials during demolition

ddr000August 31, 2012

We're getting ready to do demolition on the property to build a new house. The house is pretty run down, but it has decent items in it, such as hardwood floors in good shape, doors, cabinets in ok shape, then there is obviously copper piping, etc.

Has anyone done anything in terms of having someone come in to recover any of the materials, or do most people just let the demolition contractor get rid of the waste? I always hear of reclaimed floors, and copper being sold to metal recycling places, but I have no idea whether any of that is feasible or how one would go about getting that done.

Any insights or suggestions would be very welcome.



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Typically, metal siding, copper and steel goes with the demo. It's usually not convenient or economical to be selling it to a recycler yourself. You have a beat-up pickup handy?

In my neighbourhood, clients have gotten tax credits for donations to Habitat for Humanity.

A couple of demos, I pulled out such items as a new boiler, a/c compressor and six-foot aluminum sliders. All of it was only a couple of years old and I still got only 10-20 cents on the dollar. One time, friends picked up thousands of Unistone pavers from the new driveway using a cube van that amazingly didn't break a spring or axle with the weight.

It's usually easier to leave the salvage to the pros.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 3:21PM
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Unless you want to supply the labor it is rarely worth the effort.

I renovate and restore old houses, and only bother going to the scrap dealer for copper every 3-4 years.

Last time I netted over $600, but that was three YEARS of scrap collection.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 4:32PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

It depends on how much time and effort you want to put in it as the materials need to be separated. If you have big obvious metal parts such as copper in air conditioning it would be worthwhile.

We tore down an old house from 1790 and we had a number of people come in and look for it and offered up what they wanted, but few parts at all were taken as most of it was too short or cut up to be of use. Then there were issues of anything that was painted as to whether it had lead in it or not... We salvaged some old beams, 2 of which made a mantel...but that's about it. Still have the old back door with the long strap hinges, but even guys who were looking for old lumber to make furniture found very little to keep.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 9:11AM
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It's called Deconstruction and there are companies that specialize in this.

There are two parties involved. A donation processing service and a demolition company that performs the deconstruction. The donation company comes out and produces an assessment of the items in your property that may be of value and then produces an estimate of the recoverable value. Then the demo company will give you an estimate for the work to recover those items and dump everything else.

Decon will be more expensive than demolition. It could be that the value of the donation on your tax return is beneficial(*). It could be that the extra cost is OK with you and you feel good about some of the materials going on to find a second use.

(* as always, talk to your accountant).

Here is a link that might be useful: Deconstruction vs. Demolition

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 7:45PM
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We had to tear down an old detroiter trailer home and netted pretty good amount on the tin and steel frame and axles(not really worth the hassle but would have costed time and money for someone else to do it). I used the rafters in the ceiling for framing timbers to my new bathroom. They were very dense 1960's 2x6's that I couldn't let go to waste. I used the toilet, sinks, bathtub. Etc. I also used some of the electrical and plumbing just to get by. The plumbing was the old black abs that isn't code now for some reason but oh well.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 5:00PM
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