Demolition Alternatives: Moving, Deconstructing, & Recycling A Building

November 5, 2019

The utility company is notified, the demolition equipment and crew arrives, and within a day or two a building is transformed into a pile of debris and rubble, unrecognizable as the structure that was once occupied as a school, a store, or a home. The decision to demolish a structure should be made after careful consideration of the variables that exist for each particular project. If, after such consideration, you determine that demolition is necessary, there are alternative options to the conventional bulldozer approach that many of us have witnessed.


In New England, buildings are often moved. There are a variety of variables that need to be considered when moving a building and contacting a professional building mover is the first step. Some of our past clients have advertised “a free building” in the local newspaper; in these cases, the cost of the building move is borne by the person acquiring the building. Depending on the size of the building, this process can take the same amount of time as conventional demolition.


Deconstruction is the act of disassembling a building into its parts. Non-profit organizations, such as Building Materials Resouce Center, exist to divert good quality building materials from landfills and help low income homeowners maintain their homes affordably. Our experience on past projects with deconstruction has been positive. The process does require additional time, but properly accounted for in the overall construction schedule, it does save you money on disposal fees and can earn you valuable tax deductions.


Once the building is deconstructed and the materials are stockpiled neatly on the job site, a pick up service is often available, where the materials are taken away for re-sale. In the case of BMRC, listed above, the materials are sold at low prices to the public and considerable discounts to low- and moderate-income customers. Back at the job site, a carcass of what was once a building remains after it has been deconstructed as not all the building materials can be re-used.


The demolition equipment now arrives on the site, but the pile of construction debris does not go directly to the local landfill. Companies such as S&J Exco haul the debris to processing facilities, which recycle the material into usable, pliable products for consumers–recycling as much of the used building materials as possible.


The demolition alternatives described here can also help your project attain LEED points if you are pursuing LEED certification from the US Green Building Council.


Considering these alternatives may save you money and at the same time, may help another individual in need and further reduce the amount of construction debris that is directed to our local landfills every year.