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low waste home demolition

Home Demolition: How to Make Money and Generate Less Waste

By Rise
Jun 20, 2022

We need to rethink home demolition. There is this odd notion that demolition day is the day of reckoning for our homes. If done right, your next demolition project can generate income to offset the cost of your project and drastically reduce waste.

Table of Contents

  1. Is Home Demolition Wasteful?
  2. How Can We Reduce Home Demolition Waste?
  3. Are There Hazardous Materials During Home Demolition?
  4. Where Is Asbestos Found In Homes?
  5. Where Is Arsenic Found in Old Homes?
  6. Where Is Lead Found In Older Homes?
  7. What Type of Protective Equipment Is Needed for Home Demolition?
  8. How Much Does Home Demolition Cost?
  9. Take Your Time

Is Home Demolition Wasteful?

Over 23% of the waste in our landfills comes from construction waste. If you think your day-to-day garbage is terrible for the environment, the truth is your renovation project is one of the reasons why 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the building sector. Despite our best efforts to recycle construction materials, only 25% of global construction waste gets diverted from landfills. And even scarier, as much as 30% of all building materials delivered to a typical construction site end up as waste.

Access to affordable housing is still a massive challenge in North America, so homeowners and homebuilders could use more affordable building materials. While your next renovation might mean a new chapter for your home, that doesn’t mean it’s the last chapter for the products and materials you’re parting with. Someone’s trash can always be someone else’s treasure.

Waste from a traditional home demolition
Waste from a traditional home demolition

How Can We Reduce Home Demolition Waste?

With some extra forethought, you can drastically reduce the amount of waste from your home demolition. Demolition can also present an opportunity to offset home demolition costs and potentially make money. Look for items that could be salvaged and sold and listed on your local marketplace. There are always people looking to purchase old, unique, or salvaged items for their projects.

When our CEO Matt Daigle gutted his 1850s Victorian, he made over $4000 selling used materials.

Use this three-step process to divert waste and generate income with your next home demolition.

Look for the Low Hanging Fruit

Did the previous owner leave anything behind that could easily be sold or given a new home? Consider appliances, lighting fixtures, doors, hardware, cabinetry, old toilets, vanities, and sinks. These items can easily be taken away and don’t require much time for disassembly.

Some surprising items might generate bidding wars on social listing sites. In Matt’s case, buyers were competing over the privilege of paying him to disassemble and take away his old kitchen cabinets. If some items don’t sell or can’t be given away, donation centers will gladly accept some of these products and materials. This first part of the demo project is also the one that ends up paying the most. 

Look for Items That Are More Time Consuming to Salvage

Once you’ve looked after the low-hanging fruit, look at the items that demand more of your time and attention to disassembling and could have an extended lifespan. That includes baseboards, trim, flooring, decking, and siding. Don’t be afraid to be creative here. You may not have to disassemble all these things yourself - post them on social listing sites to see if someone can come to disassemble and take them away.

You won’t always be able to make money doing this; sometimes, it’s better to offer folks the opportunity to come to take these materials at no cost. It’s still a win for everyone, including the planet.

Look for Items That Can Be Recycled

Now look at materials that you know will get smashed and destroyed. Check with your local waste management facilities to find out what they will accept or not accept for recycling. Recycling building materials is a massive opportunity that many cities in North America haven’t yet tackled. Still, if you’re lucky, you live in a municipality where things like roof shingles, plaster, metal, and wood scraps are all recyclable. 

We once toured a Minneapolis demolition project where nearly 95% of the old home materials were recycled.

Trim from a home demolition that could be salvaged
Trim from a home demolition that could be salvaged

Are There Hazardous Materials During Home Demolition?

Be aware of potentially hazardous materials before embarking on any demolition work. The top three to consider are asbestos, lead, and (for older homes) arsenic. A good contractor can usually spot some of these harmful materials just by examining the age of the house and any previous renovations.

Where Is Asbestos Found In Homes?

Asbestos is more commonly found in older homes. When renovating, you should look for asbestos in things like drywall, insulation, tiles, pipe wrap, adhesives, cement, and so on.

For a very old house, like Matt’s Victorian, the asbestos risk is very low and would only come from previous renovations. They did find some asbestos tile in the kitchen, which was removed.

The more significant concerns for a very old home are arsenic and lead. 

Wallpaper with arsenic
Wallpaper with arsenic

Where Is Arsenic Found in Old Homes?

Arsenic was commonly used in Victorian homes to create wallpaper in the early to mid 19th century. At the time, there was a craze for the color green and other vibrant colors and hues, achieved by using copper arsenite - which contains arsenic.

The popularity of these colorful, often floral wallpapers meant that homeowners exposed themselves to deadly amounts of arsenic daily. By the late 19th century, people caught on to this death on the walls, and arsenic was eventually phased out. But that didn’t mean that all wallpaper containing arsenic was discarded. If you find ancient wallpaper and want to know if it contains arsenic, an XRF analyzer kit can tell you more about the elements in the material.

Where Is Lead Found In Older Homes?

Lead was found in paints in North America as late as 1978 in the US and 1990 in Canada. In homes built before these years, there is likely lead paint present. Lead paint becomes a hazard if it is chipping, flaking, crushed, or sanded into fine dust, and there isn't much of a health risk if the paint is undisturbed.

Protective equipment for home demolition
Protective equipment for home demolition

What Type of Protective Equipment Is Needed for Home Demolition?

The most important thing you can do if you're doing your home demolition is to protect yourself. Most importantly, get your ears, eyes, and nose covered. This could include respiratory masks, safety glasses, gloves, and ear plugs. It's essential to take this advice seriously, and this is something that you can do for your health and well-being that you really can't put a price on.

How Much Does Home Demolition Cost?

The cost of home demolition varies greatly depending on the size of the project. If you’re looking to hire a contractor, expect an average of about $4 and $15 per square foot. Expect to pay at least $30 per ton for construction waste at the dump, and higher for hazardous materials. The more products you sell, salvage, recycle, or reuse, the lower the cost of the demo.

Whether you’re involved in it or not, it’s still a good idea to have a hearty budget for demolition, primarily because of dumpster rentals and dump fees. Demolition tends to be an overlooked cost of a renovation project because, often, this is something that homeowners end up taking on themselves in whole or in part.

Take Your Time

You never know what could be hiding behind your walls, so think of demolition as deconstruction, rather than a smash-happy free-for-all. For example, beautiful solid wood beams can sometimes hide in surprising places. And with the price of lumber where it is, it might be worth it to hold your swing.

If you’re planning a home renovation to improve your home’s comfort and efficiency, check out the Rise store for the best in sustainable home improvement products.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2022-06-20T17:19:25+0000

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