We get lots of questions from readers on The Junk Map and I often have to do some research to answer them. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about demolition and recycling that may help you too. Disclaimer: These are general answers so please take care to do your own research on companies or services before signing contracts.
Most demolition companies crush materials with large machinery and cart it away. If you have good quality reusable materials like timber flooring, heritage bricks or period architectural features it’s worth looking for alternatives.
Some demolition companies, like the ones below, deconstruct and actively recycle as many materials as possible. The process takes longer but is much less wasteful.
MELBOURNE: Pace Demolitions
MELBOURNE: Sell4You (strip outs only)
ADELAIDE: SA Demolition & Salvage
HOBART: Resource Work Cooperative
BRISBANE: Woolloongabba Demolitions
SUNSHINE COAST: Sunshine Coast Demolition and Salvage
TWEED HEADS: Tweed Coast Demolition and Excavations
Governments around the world are working to improve the logistical and environmental strain of large amounts of construction and demolition waste. (Read more about Australia’s National Waste Policy.)
You’ll find many councils are beginning to encourage waste innovation and separate recycling streams. It’s still rare to find services that collect materials, but look for information pages on local recycling drop-off points.
By choosing deconstruction over demolition you may be able to recycle most materials including metal, glass, plastic, plasterboard, timber, bricks, concrete, and reusable household fixtures and fittings.
You may also be surprised at the reduction in cost:
“When we demolished an old house to rebuild a few years ago, I didn’t want anything to go to waste. So we reused all the bricks for the internal cladding, sold the stained glass windows and doors to a builder looking for matching stained glass windows, and advertised all the joinery, kitchen, bathroom fixtures and fittings on Ebay. I was amazed at the response and it all sold (at very reasonable prices) – even the two toilets which I hadn’t advertised! I even had a couple hire a truck and industrial quantities of bubble wrap and drive down from Newcastle to take the kitchen.” – Jane, Who’d Have Thought, Sydney
Planet Ark has a search tool by region and materials (eg. Construction and Demolition, Whitegoods) on Recycling Near You.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority has a helpful section on house deconstruction including planning, comparative costs of deconstruction versus demolition, and materials removal. Avoiding high landfill fees by recycling materials like bricks, concrete, tiles and timber can be more cost effective.
Remember asbestos will contaminate all recyclables and should be handled by a licensed removalist. You should also research all safety and legal requirements before undertaking demolition work.
Demolition with salvage rights means you allow your demolition contractor to salvage building materials from your property for sale elsewhere. The value of the materials may be deducted from the cost of your demolition.
If you can’t find a demolish/recycle company in your area some salvage yards and recycled timber dealers will come and collect materials. For example Renovate Restore Recycle in Bendigo and Renovators Paradise or Sell4You in Melbourne offer pre-renovation and demolition strip outs to remove reusable building materials.
Make a list of the features you think are worth saving in your house and call around your local yards to see if any are interested. Sound timber flooring, heritage bricks, and period features like windows, doors, fireplaces, cast iron railings and hardware are some of the items with resale value.
Gumtree Australia wide free classifieds.
Facebook Marketplace A fast moving competitor to Gumtree.
Ebay Moving more towards new products but still plenty of secondhand sales.
The following sites allow you to share materials with your local community. You list what you have available and people come and pick them up. (I’ve used Freecycle several times to give away stuff I didn’t want to spend time selling. I’ve also used it to find free pavers, a compost bin, firewood and other useful bits and pieces.)
You could also call local creatives to see if they’re interested. All of the makers on our find makers page work with recycled materials.
Thinking of selling or giving away used furniture? Check our The Ultimate Guide to Selling or Giving Away Used Furniture in Australia post.
Demolishing and rebuilding can be a stressful process and it’s time-consuming finding all the information you need. It may be easier to pay for quick demolition. BUT, sending sound materials to landfill is a tremendous waste. We hope you take on the challenge and successfully recycle part or all of your demolition project.