How to recycle building materials from your house demolition

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.

Question:  I want to demolish my house and there are items like flooring and windows that may be reusable. Who do I call?

Answer 1:  Find a demolition company that actively recycles the whole building.

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

Answer 2: Contact your local council for information on recycling services in your area

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.

Answer 3: Find a demolition company that offers ‘Demolition with Salvage Rights’.

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.

Answer 4: Call around your local salvage yards

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.

To view our statewide salvage yard lists visit VIC, NSW, QLD, WA and SA.

Question:  How can I sell or give away small lots of new or secondhand building materials?

Answer 1: List them on classified sites.

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.

Answer 2: Give them away for free.

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.

10 Responses
  1. It’s also worth contacting local furniture makers to see whether they’re interested in your timber. I have recently come across ‘Mark Yates the Whale Carver’ (Bayswater WA) who salvages timber from all sorts of demolitions, from domestic to industrial. He really loves heritage timber and I’m sure there are makers in other states who feel the same way. (If you’re in Perth and pulling down a shed or anything that has steel, think of me!).

  2. John

    Hi, I am thinking to buy an old house to be demolished and re build in Sydney. Anyone in Sydney doing demolishing and selling?

  3. Lynette

    Wanting to demolish my house but hate to think of the jarrah floor boards going to waste. Can I deconstruct the floor before the demolishers commence work? Is there anything I need to know about doing this? Also, can I remove the aircon for reuse? Are there rules and regulations about not doing so? I live in Perth WA.

  4. Hi Lynette
    It would be great to save floorboards from the junk pile! If you’ve already engaged a demolition contractor you probably need to speak to them before you take anything out of the house. They may have quoted the job to include materials they can re-sell.

    If you can go ahead and remove items before demolition I’d google the best way to do it. For example “how to lift old floorboards” gives you some videos and advice posts. It’s not an area I’m an expert in. Another option is to call local salvage yards or recycled timber yards and see if anyone offers a strip out service. Colin at Remill in Perth may have some tips or contacts.

    I’ve sent you an email.

  5. Ignesh

    I am demolishing my old house with granny flat – both in good condition. Wondering if you can assist in if I can sell both to would be buyers for this. Its in Clayton suburb in Melbourne, VIC.

    Any assistance would be appreciated.

  6. Kris

    Hi,I am looking for a demolition company in Sydney south west who can help me sell or recycle some of the stuff in my house.please if any one knows any company or builders

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