What is Deconstruction?

The EPA estimated that around 600 million tons of construction and demolition materials were thrown away in the U.S. in 2018. These discarded materials come from building demolitions and renovations and their total weight is more than double that of all other yearly U.S. municipal solid waste. A great way to divert this waste from landfills and give salvageable materials a second life is through deconstruction.

Deconstruction is the process of taking a building apart, piece by piece, and salvaging appliances and materials instead of demolishing it. Up to 70% of materials can be recycledopens PDF file , and up to 25% of materials can be reusedopens PDF file in a home deconstruction. This can be done in two ways: a soft strip or a full deconstruction.

A soft strip essentially takes all non-structural elements inside and outside of a home or building to facilitate in demolition, refurbishment, or remodeling. This can include items like appliances, flooring, cabinet sets, etc. Soft strips are typically shorter and take only a few days to complete.

On the other hand, a full deconstruction can salvage more materials. Items like asphalt, concrete, clean gypsum wallboard, metal, etc. are all salvageable. This process takes a bit longer than a soft strip and can take anywhere between a week to a couple of months – depending on the size of the project.

The Benefits

Deconstruction not only keeps materials out of the landfills and gives beautiful items a second life, but it also creates jobs. In fact, deconstruction creates 6 to 8 jobs for every 1 job that demolition creates. It can also lead to a lower carbon footprint since it prevents emissions from the production of new items. In addition to the environmental and social impacts of deconstruction, there are also financial benefits.

The cost of a deconstruction project varies on a case by case basis. However, when donating deconstructed materials to charitable organizations, tax payers can claim tax deductions. As a result, deconstruction can sometimes be less expensiveopens PDF file than demolition after tax deductions. Not only does this help tax payers, but deconstructed materials are then sold at a discounted price, which can help lower income homeowners in their home projects.

Start a Deconstruction Project

If you are interested in arranging a deconstruction project, the easiest way to start is by contacting a local deconstruction contractor. For example, contractors like Joe DeRisi from Urban Miners and Bob Chamberlain from Mad Dog Demolition can assist with this process with homeowners, contractors, and businesses throughout MA, CT, RI, and NH. Learn more about the work that Bob does here, as well as other customer stories here.

Where do these deconstructed materials go to? Places like Habitat for Humanity and EcoBuilding Bargains take in various deconstructed items and save useful materials from landfills. EcoBuilding Bargains is the largest reclaimed building materials store in New England and offers a FREE trucking service to pick up any salvaged materials.

EcoBuilding Bargains donation truck outside of the store

Donate Items

Looking to donate items? Learn about what materials EcoBuilding Bargains accepts here. Or you can contact our Recovery & Donations Specialists John Celesk and Freya Bromwich for more information. John works with customers in Eastern MA and RI, and Freya works with customers across Western MA, CT, and NY.

All accepted materials can be picked up, at no cost, from job sites, businesses, and homes. Please fill out our online donation form or call 413-788-6900 to schedule a pick-up service before bringing in potential donations.

Want to buy reclaimed materials? Visit EcoBuilding Bargains at 83 Warwick Street in Springfield, MA to shop for items like appliances, kitchen cabinets, and so much more!