Salvage and Deconstruction

  • Salvaging materials from a deconstructed site before demolition.

In contrast to demolition, deconstruction involves disassembly of a building by a crew of people. The benefit is that items of value, such as doors and cabinets, can be kept intact and materials can be separated by heavy equipment and salvaged for reuse or recycling. The recovered items, such as appliances, floorboards, stair treads, or roof joists are resold for use in new construction and renovation projects, or for remanufacture (i.e. turning wood framing into fireplace mantles). Materials that can't be reused are recycled or disposed. Examples of recycling are turning damaged wood into mulch or turning cement foundations into aggregate for new foundations and sidewalks.

A building can be fully deconstructed, partially deconstructed, or completely demolished. The feasibility and cost-effectiveness of deconstruction is different for every building, depending on how the building was constructed and what building materials were used. Deconstruction can be used in most wood-frame and some metal-frame buildings. The building components, their condition, and the manner in which they are secured to the structure can affect the cost-effectiveness of salvaged materials. To be cost-competitive with conventional demolition, the added costs of deconstruction (primarily, the extra labor of disassembly and removal) must be offset by the value of the salvaged building material and the avoided cost of disposal.

Here are some suggestions before getting started:

For more information, contact Katie Kennedy of Seattle Public Utilities at or (206) 386-9772.

Links to other sites

Ballard Reuse
Habitat for Humanity Store
RE-USE Consulting
Second Use