Deconstructing houses to keep materials in use

Deconstructing houses to keep materials in use

Every year Kiwis dump more than 12 million tonnes of waste into landfill. Nearly half of that comes from the construction and demolition industry. While it may be referred to as waste, many of those materials are valuable resources and can still be used.

When preparing to clear eight houses from a site in Hamilton, Kāinga Ora called in Levela Deconstruction to deconstruct the houses and divert as many materials as possible from landfill so they could be reused, repurposed or recycled.

The solution

Levela Deconstruction takes buildings apart from the top to bottom, all by hand. It’s a bit like the opposite of building.

For the Kāinga Ora project, all deconstructed materials were graded and separated onsite, house by house. This allowed Levela Deconstruction to take stock of reusable materials and try to recycle materials that couldn’t be reused or repurposed.

Native timber was made into flooring, and weatherboards were milled into tongue and groove floorboards. High quality timber, aluminium and joinery was distributed throughout Levela’s network to be sold. Relatively new insulation was removed and made available to people in the community to insulate their own builds.

Materials that could not be reused, repurposed, or recycled were sorted into separate bins onsite for wood, plasterboard and general waste.

Pine frame was donated for reuse in the Pacific Islands. Reusing pine framing here is difficult due to strict criteria in the New Zealand Building Code. Some treated pine can be mulched and used as boiler fuel in controlled circumstances. Untreated pine can be burnt more widely, or mulched and used for landscaping or animal bedding.

All materials were weighed onsite so Levela could accurately report on the amount of materials diverted from landfill. Levela also used a second hand 40 foot shipping container to transport reusable materials offsite. Bulk shipments helped reduce fuel use and carbon emissions in transport.

More than 80% of the materials from the deconstruction project were diverted from landfill and 20 tonnes were salvaged.

Business/organisation name: Levela Deconstruction

Main contractor: Kāinga Ora

Dylan Bull, Director -- Levela Deconstruction

Dylan Bull, Director -- Levela Deconstruction

“Deconstructing the 8 homes by hand cost about the same as demolishing them with a digger. However, the value of diverting materials from landfill so that they could be reused, repurposed or recycled made deconstruction the smarter option.”