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Deconstruction: How To Perform a Deconstruction Process

Deconstruction Costs and Tips


Deconstruction: How To Perform a Deconstruction Process

How To Perform a Deconstruction Process

By Scrap Pile

Deconstruction Process

Deconstruction is a process where architectural and structural components of a building are removed and salvaged before the building is demolished. Demolition and remodeling processes are responsible for producing more than 50 million tons of debris transported into landfills every year. A deconstruction process can be optimized combining specialized contractors to assist you when performing an assessment of components that could be part of the deconstruction materials or salvage materials. Materials such as cabinets, lumber, plumbing, concrete and many other can be reused or donated to charity organizations and even some tax credits or points toward LEED can be obtained.

Deconstruction Basics

  • Deconstruction process should use the LOFO concept, Last on is First Off. The last material placed in the construction process should be the first one to come out.

  • Deconstruction process should be carried out using the same tool that was used to install the material.

  • Identify possible hazardous and permitting requirements.

  • If you are applying excessive force, something must be wrong or preventing the material to come out. Check surrounding for additions or alterations made to the original structure.

  • It is important to provide adequate safety tools and materials for the employees executing the deconstruction process.

  • Plan an escape route when performing a deconstruction process. Hallways and exits should be clear and free of obstacles.

  • To complete an estimate of the deconstruction process the best source of information may be the original blueprints or 'as-built' drawings for the building.

  • One floor at a time. Do not expose workers to overhead activities nor assign workers under overhead deconstruction activities.

  • Local resources or organizations such as Habitat for Humanity can be contacted to receive salvaged material.

Deconstruction Costs

This is the part where you will be seeing a direct impact when performing deconstruction. Recent studies have demonstrated that the highest value per unit of labor cost building components from residential deconstruction are:

  • Plumbing fixtures

  • Electrical and lighting fixtures

  • Wood timbers and large pieces of dimensional lumber

  • Interior Wood if unpainted

  • Wide exterior sheathing

  • Wood flooring

Deconstruction can also be described as a 'passive' demolition method. Prior to starting your construction project we tend to evaluate different alternatives that will lead us to select the means and methods used during the construction process. While deconstruction is not a cheap alternative, it can provide you with other benefits such as reducing global contamination, positive environmental impact, cleaner water/air, prolonged life of our landfills and is material is being used by non-profits organization, then you are contributing to our social environment. Deconstruction is a process where you can produce social, financial and environmental contributions to the neighborhood.

Deconstruction Versus Demolition – Cost Analysis

One important formula used by the US Army to determine the market price(MP) of your materials could be:

MP = MC + PC + TC + P


MC = material cost PC = processed cost TC = transportation cost P = profit.

A comparison between demolition and deconstruction must consider that:


  • Rental costs associated with waste handling companies

  • Purchasing compactors, containers, or dedicated vehicles to transport debris

  • Equipment maintenance

  • Hauling and disposal costs

  • Labor costs

  • Safety regulation and requirements when managing debris and waste


  • Management costs

  • Planning and supervising costs

  • Pick up and storage of deconstructed material

  • Labor costs associated with the deconstruction process

  • Equipment and maintenance costs

  • Labor training to segregate salvage material from construction debris

  • LEED points toward certification

  • Grants and funding provided by states

  • Tax credits on selected materials

  • Hauling and transportation costs or reusable and recyclable material

  • Revenue when salvage material is sold or trade

Additional Deconstruction Benefits

Sometimes deconstruction can offer an excellent alternative even to the project or building owner. If the owner decides to use a deconstruction process, he or she must be aware that:

  • Reduced hauling and disposal costs can be obtained

  • Minimized energy use and greenhouse gas emissions

  • Reduce permitting and fees from environmental permitting

  • Reduce tipping fees from the landfill, if paid directly by the owner

  • Tax Credits for material donation

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