Based upon what I saw first hand during the 3 months of construction on my personal remodel addition in 2002, I learned more about construction waste management (or lack there of) than I have in my professional experience over the last 2 decades. The first day of demolition, I was very satisfied with how the workers neatly organized on my lawn the reusable parts removed from my home. Then they threw them all in the dumpster! I was appalled, amazed, disgusted and many other emotions, not to mention stomping mad! Over the whole of the project, I probably removed at least 1/3 of the “trash” from the dumpster in my driveway, then only to see it in the dumpster again later that day. This is the kind of absurdity you can expect to find on a job site with out a construction waste management plan.
The first assumption is that the builder automatically believes what you believe about saving the planet. (maybe, maybe not) The second assumption is that the workers believe the same. (even less plausible) So obviously it is important to select a builder who not only has good intentions but has a plan in place. Have the builder show you how this is being handled on their current job sites. Watch for neatness and organization on the job site and ask how frequently waste is taken and where during different phases of construction.
It is also very helpful to have directions written into the specifications or construction documents of your home plans. Your building designer can help by implementing specific directions into their plans. A designer with a specified waste management plan is a huge advantage in aiding the builder with a means to an end. Largely, you are going to be the best advocate for your construction waste to be reused on site or recycled properly, so this can help direct you also.
The company that your builder uses for hauling waste can also have a big impact. Many haulers just pick up anything regardless of the type, take it straight to the landfill and add the dump fees to their service fees. This is the most conventional way of doing this, but no longer is a feasible option. Other hauling companies specifically look for ways to reduce their dump fees by recycling.
A company I recently became familiar with is Dirty Work Hauling. Kyle Jones’ business was born out of a bad hauling experience he had as a customer with a hauling company that was tardy, expensive, messy and rude. He knew there was a better way.
Builders have subcontractors and typically 9 out of 10 of them are difficult to work with, so Kyle created a good service that was easy to work with. Builders said, “Since you are hauling, you may as well do the demolition as well”, so then he hired a demo crew. His company now does complete interior and exterior demo with clean up. If a builder needs a wood floor to be taped before paint, he does it. He rents stump grinders, hauls just about anything and is a great resource for builders to do almost any labor efficiently.
Dirty Work Hauling was good at hauling, demolition, cleaning and labor, so naturally recycling became Kyle’s next service to tackle. Recycling makes sense because it’s a good way to dispose of materials for free. People want their construction waste to be recycled and it is cheaper so now he is focusing on recycling anything he can.
In demolition for remodels, it is hard to recycle materials because of paint and other chemicals or dust and debris. What works best is for builders to develop a proper waste management plan and where ever possible to reuse materials on the jobsite. If there is a piece of rotten fascia board, then cut off what is rotten and reuse the other part. Doors and windows can be reused if removed properly. Carpet can be cut and bound in to an area rug, brick and stone can be reused. If builders and homeowners think through this creatively, there will be less waste on the job site, less materials to haul off and more happy customers.
Habitat for Humanity is a very good place to recycle building materials. However; because of volume of materials turned in and not enough ware house space, they must be now very particular about what they take. Kyle would also like to expand his company’s services with a builder warehouse where builders can bring in building materials that Habitat cannot take. Then just like Habitat resell these materials to individuals and builders. Something you can do to help? Shop at the Habitat Re-Store to help create more space in their ware house for more quality materials!!
The 3 main materials to be recycled on the jobsite are dimensional lumber to be chipped into mulch or sold for small jobs, sheet rock to be ground up and cardboard recycled into future cardboard products. On the jobsite, they build a plywood box in a size that is right for the job and the space available to put it. During the framing stage of construction, the box is used specifically for framing material. Then about a 2 week gap before sheet rock, then cardboard from windows, doors and appliances. Separate boxes for other recyclables such as glass bottles, plastic, paper and metal and another for real trash can also be built of plywood. The advantage for the builder is that Dirty Work rewards cost reductions when the bins are properly sorted by the job crews. The materials are picked up every 4-5 days. This entire service comes with a fixed cost and can easily be written into the bid for the job.
The amazing thing is that Dirty Work has touched so little of the market. Their goal is to not be a pain in the neck for the builder! They do the job right the first time, are efficient, tidy, follow instructions and are polite! This doesn’t seem like much to ask, but if you have ever hired anyone for a construction job, you know that this is few and far between.
On your next construction job, big or small, make sure you know what you can reuse on site, what you can recycle and what you must throw away. It’s simple and just takes a little advance planning. Check out Austin Energy Green Building for recommendations in construction waste management before you get started and give Dirty Work Hauling a call at (512)657-4006.
If you need design services on a remodel or new construction project coming up, Call Custom Design Services before October 31st to take advantage of our 20% discount on all services. Just mention this newsletter!