How to Rethink Deconstruction During a Remodeling Project

Demolition vs. Deconstruction, what’s the difference?

We’ve all heard the overused “re” buzzwords when talking about salvaging materials on a job site: recycle, redo, repurpose, renew, and that’s just getting started. But when it comes to remodeling, how far can we go? Can we rethink how to rebuild? The answer is yes.

If you delve into the definition of the prefix “re,” it refers to the Latin origin of “again and back,” or doing something over again and again. If you think about it, that’s precisely what a remodel is. It’s building something over again. So, let’s break down how to deconstruct a remodeling project.

Rethink: Deconstruction vs Demolition

Traditional demolition is to tear down a structure as fast as possible and haul it to the dump, consuming our landfills with materials that could have been repurposed. The goal of deconstruction is to save the original building materials wherever possible and to incorporate them into the remodeling phase of the home. Yes, this takes longer and can cost more upfront, but the environmental benefits are tremendous. Fewer trees are harvested by reusing wood, your carbon footprint is smaller due to fewer trips to the dump, and at the end of the day, donated materials can add up quickly for substantial tax breaks.

Hire a Deconstruction Contractor

You can often deconstruct on your own, but it’s best to hire a deconstruction contractor who specializes in this field. They know how to prep and protect your home, what can be salvaged and donated, and how to properly remove and recycle your house materials. And if you’ve ever had to live in your home during a remodel phase, a good deconstruction contractor will clean the job site daily. That includes removing trip hazards, organizing piles, and vacuuming because cleaning is a continuous process throughout a remodel.

Also, permits are often required during a remodel; your contractor is responsible for contacting your local municipality to acquire the proper paperwork.

Reuse: What to save

There are lots of materials that can be saved and repurposed into your home, but the most popular materials include wood framing and flooring, windows, doors, and cabinetry. These are big-ticket items that can help reduce your remodeling budget.

Saving sinks, tubs, toilets, and appliances in working order can also keep costs down. Small items like hardware, furniture, vintage lighting, and faucets can chip away at the overall budget. But not everything can be saved. Materials with dry rot, fire, or water damage should not be repurposed back in the home and must be properly removed from the remodel construction site.


Before you begin, a nice thing to do is let your neighbors know what’s going on. Deconstruction/remodeling is noisy, and neighborly communication helps them prepare for job site noise. It’s also important to prepare your area by designating a location to store deconstruction materials on your property. If needed, set up temporary fencing to contain everything and prevent debris from flying into your neighbor’s property.

As materials are removed, it’s important to inventory what you have so you don’t buy new materials that you don’t need. Organize everything into stacks and piles. Remove all nails and stockpile all wood (framing, plywood, and flooring) according to dimensions. Stack cabinetry on top of each other and lean doors and windows vertically. Put light and plumbing fixtures and tile in bins, and, most importantly, weather-protect what you’re saving. This is time-consuming, but knowing what you have and where it is will save you money in the long run.


Don’t want to reinstall your old cabinetry and appliances? One of the easiest ways to help empty our landfills is to donate materials you’re not reusing to your neighboring Habitat for Humanity organization. They also offer local deconstruction services. Their volunteers will arrive onsite, remove donatable items such as your old cabinets, appliances, windows, doors, sinks, and flooring, to name a few, and resell them at their ReStore locations. And remember, your donation is a tax write-off.


Need to find a specific piece of molding to match what you already have? Or tongue and groove wood flooring to blend in with your original floors? How about some new cabinets for the kitchen because you’ve donated the old ones? We’re here to help, visit a Parr location to get started.