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Small Construction Salvage Business: A Guide for Prospective Owners

by Pamela Hill

Salvaging brick and other construction debris can be a worthwhile and lucrative business, whether you do it as your main income source or on the side. The best way to break into the business is to advertise yourself as a construction clean up company. This way you get paid twice: once by the job site owners to clean up the debris, and a second time when you sell the salvaged materials. The following guide can help you better understand what the job entails.

What can be salvaged?

A lot of wreckage from a construction demolition site is salvageable, including the following:

  • bricks
  • concrete
  • asphalt shingles
  • fixtures
  • wood
  • siding
  • doors and windows

How does salvage turn a profit?

The resale value of some items, like doors and fixtures, is obvious. You can sell these items yourself or you can sell them to a middle man that operates a used building supply store. For other items you will need to find a buyer before you attempt to salvage.

For example, asphalt shingles are recycled into new shingles. This means you will need to sell directly to a company that makes recycled shingles. Asphalt from drives and parking lots can be sold to recyclers that turn it into fresh asphalt. Concrete is most often crushed into aggregate for new concrete production, or for use in landscaping or as a base material under roadways.

Some items, like bricks, fall into both categories. Those in good condition can be salvaged and sold to be used as-is. Broken bricks can be sold to recyclers, that crush them down to use in the production of new bricks. The key is to find a buyer for as many salvage materials as possible.

Where can one find demo sites?

Your best option is to contact demolition and construction companies directly. Your main goal is to find a company that is willing to to do a "soft demo"—this means that they will first strip as many salvage items as possible, such as siding and fixtures, before using more destructive methods to bring down the building.

Remodeling companies are a good option for two reasons. First, they tend to specialize in soft demo since they aren't pulling down entire structures but instead updating them. Second, the job sites are a manageable size, which makes it easier for your small company to clean them up, dispose of actual waste, and find buyers for all the salvage materials.

With a bit of planning and research, this can be a viable and environmentally responsible career option. Visit resources like to learn more.