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Rubble Reincarnation: Recycling Waste Materials From House Demolitions

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Demolishing a house may seem like a very definite ending to the building's worth, but even the rubble and waste left behind once the house is demolished can still be put to good use. There are a variety of ways you can recycle waste materials from a demolition site, and in doing so help save vital resources, lower your demolition's carbon footprint, and potentially net a few dollars for yourself. 


Many demolition site salvagers will begin their search by looking for usable scrap metals -- and for good reason. Steel from radiators, bathtubs and other fittings can be recycled directly or sold to a metal dealer for scrap, but you should also try to salvage more valuable metals such as copper and lead. Many homes have water pipes and heating fixtures that are made from or contain copper, while older homes may have roof flashing made of lead -- both of these scrap metals fetch high prices and are therefore recycled extensively.


Internal fittings and ornamentation made of decent-quality timber, such as skirting boards, shelves, doors, window frames and ceiling mouldings, can all be recycled easily, and may fetch a few dollars from timber merchants if they are made of particularly rare or exotic woods. Structural lumber from the roof and walls can also be recycled, provided it survives demolition in good condition -- a certain amount can be stripped out prior to demolition safely.


Any bricks that survive demolition in good condition can also be reused, including internal breeze blocks. They can be dropped off at various recycling centres that maintain brick collection depots (ensure that they are relatively free of mortar deposits first), or you can recycle them yourself by using them for garden walls, brick planters and other structures that do not require the load-bearing strength of new bricks.

Roofing tiles or sheets

Most demolition processes involve removing the roof before the rest of the house comes down, and you should do your best to salvage the tiles or sheeting you have up there in good condition. Clay roofing tiles can be reused, while tiles made of sought-after stones such as slate can often be sold on. Metal roof sheeting is particularly valuable as a recyclable, provided it is free of rust.

Trees and shrubs

If the ill-fated house has a garden, don't simply write it off -- the shrubs and trees it contains may well be suitable for replanting, and can be used in future landscaping projects. Do a little research if you possess any rare or exotic trees, as they can fetch remarkably high prices from tree nurseries and collectors.

Rubble, broken bricks and general detritus

Once all the valuable materials have been taken from your pile of what was once a house, even the remaining pieces of broken brick, smashed concrete and flattened drywall can be put to good use. When compacted they made for excellent dry fill for building and excavation sites, or fast-draining hardcore ideal for certain landscaping projects.