Depending on where you live, construction projects account for between 20% and 30% of all landfill waste, as per a 1996 study. That amount’s nothing to scoff at if you consider that the world’s landfills are overflowing, at least in developing countries. It’s nothing short of a dire environmental issue everyone should be aware of—including those renovating their homes.
Contrary to popular belief, as the same study points out, renovations generate far more waste than new constructions. Aside from the leftover building materials, there’s also the rubble and materials left by dismantling the original space. If you ever plan on giving your home a total makeover, keep the following waste management practices in mind:
Go For A Zero-Waste Design
Experts say the construction industry primarily treats construction waste as inevitable in any project. While they’re not entirely wrong, it’s no excuse not to think of ways to reduce it.
Numerous zero-waste advocates sing a common tune: ‘Waste is a design flaw.’ Waste is an indication that a part of any plan—be it in construction or any other industry—isn’t doing its task as efficiently as it should. A lot of resources and person-hours go into making a plank of wood; using only half of it means only half of what it used to make it gets used up.
Reducing waste in home renovations begins with an optimized design. Many home builders say they generally don’t factor zero-waste practices such as solidification of liquid waste into their plans because the clients never asked. While it should be an initiative on the builders’ part, clients shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a plan that makes the most out of the appropriated budget and materials.
If some waste is unavoidable, the plan should include disposal methods such as contracting a waste removal service that employs skip bins and such. You can click here now to learn more about how they can manage renovation waste and what they accept and reject.
Deconstruct Rather Than Demolish
There’s a world of difference between deconstructing a house and demolishing it. Deconstructing means dismantling the whole or part of a house and setting aside any reusable building materials later. On the other hand, demolishing means reducing it to rubble, leaving nothing reusable.
Multiple case studies have cited the benefits of deconstruction, whether in new constructions or renovations. One estimate stated that if the 200,000 to 300,000 American homes that undergo demolitions every year get deconstructed instead, these projects stand to save enough lumber to build 100,000 new homes. Assuming a typical 2,600 ft2 house requires lumber from 44 mature trees, that translates to over four million trees spared the chainsaw.
While deconstruction is more expensive than demolition, experts say the difference is marginal at best. The salvaged materials the former generates can reduce the need for fresh ones, namely for renovation projects. Every bit of material reused is every bit that stays away from the landfill.
Limit Changes During Renovation
Once renovation commences, the last thing you want to do is make significant changes partway through the project. One study explains that design changes can increase project costs by as much as 50% of the initial cost. The extra materials necessary to fulfill these changes will also generate waste, not to mention set the completion date back by weeks or months.
Because of this, clients and builders must be on the same wavelength in planning and designing. Active involvement by both parties in the first few stages can go a long way in avoiding changes that require redrawing the blueprints and re-crunching the numbers.
Of course, this doesn’t mean all changes during renovation are bad. Most renovation projects will allow minor ones like preferring a different cabinetry design or roofing or siding material (provided the new material won’t need a complete structural rework).
Restore Vintage Pieces
Homebuilders can typically identify materials and other articles from the original house worth saving instead of discarding. This should especially be the case for homes with rare relics and building materials, some of which may make collectors pay top dollar if you plan to sell them.
These vintage pieces may even help redesign a room with a more old-timey feel. For instance, renovations can incorporate these pieces in a bathroom for a more relaxing experience.
As discussed here, waste management during home renovations is more straightforward than one may think. It boils down to asking your preferred contractor to implement a zero-waste design as much as your budget allows and being smart about your decisions moving forward. With these tips, you’ll do Mother Nature an excellent service.
- About the Author
Alex Grigoryan is a Professional Home Improvement and Lifestyle Writer. He has been in the industry for over 6 years and has been writing for Chique Home Living since 2019. His work has been featured in prestigious blogs such as Spruce Home, Better Homes & Garden, and more.