DIY Repurposing

Sorting Waste After Remodeling

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Homeowners who plan to undertake a do-it-yourself job should know the difference between waste and salvageable building materials. Communities and builders are giving incentives to reduce waste and practice better recycling as first steps toward a more responsible building program. Homeowners may opt to manage the construction waste themselves or hire a professional service so that they can spend time on the remodel without worries about managing construction debris.

Recycling and Salvage
In some municipalities, recycling is no longer optional for homeowners or contractors. Portland, OR, requires sorting and recycling of materials at jobsites where the project permit exceeds $50,000. Any homeowner looking to take on a project should check into local recycling requirements before beginning the job. Materials such as rubble (which can include concrete and asphalt), corrugated cardboard, metals, and woods, are all examples of construction and demolition (C&D) waste that can and should be recycled. Local waste-management resources will provide information on what can be recycled and where to take various materials.

Salvage is an age-old, practical building tactic that reduces waste, lowers disposal costs, and can lower material costs through reuse of materials. Homeowners and contractors can shop at salvage yards for discounted materials that have been recovered from other sites. Similarly, a homeowner or contractor might choose to “deconstruct” rather than “demolish” the remodel site in order to reuse certain materials from the existing structure. Not only does salvaging of existing materials save money in purchasing costs, it will also save on disposal costs. Homeowners who hire a contractor for their remodel should inquire into salvage options to save money and reduce unnecessary dumping.

Waste Disposal
Some C&D waste materials are unusable and must be taken to the dump. DIYers should compare the costs of roll-off bin rental, waste removal, and/or dumping fees. Some hazardous wastes, including paints, toxins, lead, and asbestos, may require an additional fee or a removal specialist. At dump sites, dumping or “tipping” fees may be calculated by volume of materials or by weight of materials. The weight of waste materials is usually calculated by weighing the truck or vehicle before and after dumping. The National Association of Home Builders issued a survey result that showed average remodeling waste-removal cost at around $600 per home, which included fees for removal and disposal.

Waste Removal Contractors
Commercial contractors, residential contractors, and DIYers alike can hire a professional waste-removal company to deal with material waste at a jobsite. Depending on the company, fees may be based on volume or weight of waste. 1-800-Got-Junk is a waste-removal company that originated in Vancouver but now includes over 280 franchise partners in Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia. “We do free on-site job estimates prior to taking a job,” says Lindsay Peroff, Public Relations Manager for 1-800-Got-Junk, “and our estimates are based on volume of the junk that is to be removed.”

Waste removal companies like 1-800-Got-Junk often have financial incentives to recycle the materials that they remove from a job site, as this will reduce their dumping and disposal fees. They make frequent trips to charities, salvage yards, and recycling centers before toting the last of the load to the landfill. “Homeowners concerned with the environment like to know that the waste-removal company they are using will recycle,” adds Peroff.

Hiring a waste-removal company may also preclude the need for a roll-off bin, since the company can typically remove waste from the jobsite as it accumulates. In some urban settings, it can be challenging or impossible to set up a roll-off bin, so homeowners and contractors hire a waste-removal specialist. These companies will insist that hazardous materials be kept separate and will usually dispose of these for a fee.