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(Updated January 2013)

Deconstruction of buildings is the selective dismantlement of building components, specifically for re-use, recycling, and waste management.  It differs from demolition where a site is cleared of its building by the most expedient means.  Deconstruction has also been defined as “construction in reverse.”  When buildings reach the end of their useful life, they are typically demolished and hauled to landfills.  Components within old buildings may still be valuable, sometimes more valuable than at the time the building was constructed.  Deconstruction is a method of harvesting what is commonly considered “waste” and reclaiming it into useful building material.  Find out all about deconstructing buildings and reusing materials in this updated field guide. (D. McCormick, Operations Analyst).

Video: How to Recycle Your House

Source: How to Recycle Your House, (Youtube.com, Dec. 4, 2009).

Deconstructing Building Basics

A thrift shop for building materials, (TMCnews, Aug. 23, 2011).

Man wants Casper building to deconstruct, (trib.com, Aug. 10, 2011).

Six residents get certificates in Hamden in deconstructing old buildings, (Post Chronicle, July 18, 2011).

On Old Buildings, Demolition, Deconstruction, and Reuse, (Portland Preservation, Apr. 21, 2011).

Deconstruction as Community Development Tool, (BioCycle, Apr. 2011). Building deconstruction and valuable material resale creates green businesses as well as jobs with decent wages and benefits, adding quality to quantity of the U.S. recycling movement. Q

Picking Up the Pieces, (Builder, Mar. 2011). Q

ESF students in Syracuse want neighboring buildings 'deconstructed', (syracuse.com, Jan. 27, 2011).

Save it All!, (Planning, Dec. 2010). Could Syracuse, New York, become a model for deconstruction-salvaging materials from buildings about the be demolished? Q

Favorably Disposed, (Planning, Aug./Sept. 2010). Putting waste to good use. So much about the sustainability movement is about trashing old ways of doing things, including how we deal with trash itself. Q

Building from Reused Material, (technorati.com, July 23, 2010).

Recycling Homes Should be a Matter of Conscience, Not Stimulus Money, (Recycleyourhouse.blogspot.com, June 28, 2010).

Under Deconstruction: Transformasium, (popcitymedia.com, June 16, 2010).

Thinking Outside the Dumpster: Deconstruction and Recycling of Building Materials, (Remodeling, June 14, 2010).

Deconstruction: Old House Salvage Builds New Home, (katherinesalant.com, Dec. 2008).

Contractors convert their home to model of green renovation, (Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, Oct. 8, 2008).

The Economics of Deconstruction, (Remodeling, Oct. 1, 2008). The environmental benefits of deconstruction are obvious, but what about the economics?

Deconstructing the Future, (Remodeling, July 31, 2008). The worthy goal of diverting construction materials from the landfill is fraught with obstacles, but recycling opportunities are growing.

Deconstruction: greening the end of a building's life, (greenrenter.com, July 28, 2008).

Tips for Deconstruction and Recycling Building Materials, (Remodeling, June 10, 2008).

Mind the Waste: Deconstruction vs. Demolition, (Remodeling, May 22, 2008).

Parts and Labor, (Builder Magazine, Jan. 8, 2008). Old houses create new jobs.

Reusing building materials and appliances, (urbanhabitatchicago.org, Dec. 4, 2007).

A Place for Everything: A systematic approach to deconstruction is good for the environment and for business, (Remodeling, Sept. 4, 2007).

Looking Closer at Building Material Reuse and Recycling, (Conservation Magazine, Spring/Summer 2006).

Deconstructing for dollars: Recycling building materials can mean more than simply salvaging light fixtures, (recyclingsecrets.com, n.d.).

The Ins and Outs of Recyclable Building Materials, (servicemagic.com, n.d.).


Building Materials Reuse Association—The Building Materials Reuse Association (BMRA) is a 501 c3 non-profit educational and research organization whose mission is to facilitate building deconstruction and the reuse / recycling of recovered building materials.

Deconstruction & Reuse Network—Deconstruction & ReUse Network strongly supports the green building movement by advancing the general environmental principal of "reduce, reuse and recycle" within the construction and demolition (C&D) industries. Their goal is to educate and empower homeowners, building industry professionals and civic leaders to adopt the practice of deconstruction as a rational alternative to traditional demolition, thereby keeping C&D materials out of landfills, while simultaneously growing a robust network of individuals and organizations committed to the reclamation and distribution of reusable building materials.

The Rebuilding Center—The ReBuilding Center, a project of Our United Villages, is a vibrant resource working to strengthen the environmental, economic, and social fabric of local communities. Founded by volunteers in 1998, The ReBuilding Center carries the region’s largest volume of used building and remodeling materials. It provides resources that make home repairs affordable to everyone, with the goal of promoting the reuse of salvaged and reclaimed materials. Three hundred visitors come to The ReBuilding Center every day to browse the ever-changing inventory that includes sinks, tubs, tile, lumber, doors, windows, trim and much more.

Second Use—Second Use has helped contractors and homeowners recover reusable building materials from their remodeling and demolition projects.  And, through our retail outlet, our customers have in turn helped to find new homes for the material.  This process provides both a more sustainable alternative to buying new and a mechanism for passing on the stories that inhabit the homes and businesses throughout the Puget Sound region.

eBooks & Other Resources


The following ebooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Be a Successful Green Builder (Adobe eReader)

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Building and Remodeling (Adobe eReader)

The Green Building Bottom Line (Adobe eReader)

Green Building Products (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Green Restorations (Adobe eReader)

Sustainable Facilities (Adobe eReader)

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Commercial Green Buildings

Field Guide to Construction Materials Theft

Field Guide to Green Homes and Green Mortgages

Field Guide to Greening Your Neighborhood

InfoCentral Blog

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.