How to Make Sure a Contractor Is Disposing of Materials Properly

Home Builder

The building of a new home, remodeling or knocking down an old structure to remodel will result in construction and debris material, also referred to as C&D. C&D material comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be concrete, asphalt from shingles, wood, drywall gypsum, bricks, glass, plastics, paint, metal, pieces of buildings, fixtures, and even rocks and trees left over from preparing a site to build on.

Reasons for Disposing Materials Properly: Recycling

All of that material needs to be disposed of properly. There are three primary reasons.

The first is sustainable materials management (SMM). A large portion of C&D material can be recycled and repurposed.

Recycling and repurposing have beneficial environmental impacts, such as preserving as many virgin resources as possible and conserving the space dedicated to landfill across the country.

Recycling properly also reduces needed disposal facilities. Why is that a good thing? Well, disposal facilities are associated with environmental challenges, such as the production of methane gas, which is a contributing factor to climate change.

Reduction of Dangerous Materials

The second is the reduction of C&D materials that are dangerous to human health. Asbestos, for example, is used in many construction projects, such as floor tiles, shingles, paint and patching compounds, coatings and fabrics. It is also already in many buildings and can become disturbed by construction activities such as:

  • Drilling

  • Remodeling

  • Breaking through walls

The disturbance is the dangerous part, because it releases asbestos fibers and particles to float through the air. The fibers and particles are dangerous to human health. They can lead to lung disease, including lung cancer, mesothelioma — a rare cancer of the linings of internal organs — and asbestosis, a lung disease.

disposal contractor

Proper Disposal Methods

The third important reason for disposing of materials properly is what happens when they are disposed of improperly. Many municipalities have regulations against illegal dumping because of environmental and health hazards. Toxic materials from C&D, for example, may make their way into waterways and soil, creating environmental challenges.

There are multiple potential effects on human health. Containers that have been illegally dumped can fill with rainwater. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitos, which can carry disease such as Zika virus. Dumped C&D can also become infested with rodents, who can also carry disease. C&D materials can also contain chemicals that cause allergies or contain rusty nails that puncture anyone who comes into contact with them and cause disease.

The Solution, I: Research Your Contractor

Given both the positive reasons for disposing of C&D materials properly and the negative impacts from disposing of them illegally, it is important to research your contractor. Ask for testimonials and get reviews. You want to know if they can do a good job, of course. But don’t neglect specific information about how and how often they dispose of materials.

When you talk to contractors, get targeted information on how they got rid of their C&D materials in the past. Did they have a specific SMM plan, for example? It’s an excellent idea. Ask for organizations they partner with and specific contact names.

Why? Well, knowing the other side of construction — what happens to materials left over or caused by demolition — is part of being a responsible homeowner. In essence, you are working with the materials, too. You need to know where they go.

The Solution, II: Learn About C&D Disposal

Your contractor is key, but it doesn’t hurt to educate yourself as a homeowner about the disposal of C&D materials. Here are some suggestions:

  • Local retailers can help by recycling and repurposing their products, such as donating leftover paint to nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. Check into the policies of both suppliers of raw materials, such as wood and concrete, and retailers, such as suppliers of fixtures, doors and windows, and appliances.

  • A number of companies and organizations are built upon providing and executing SMM plans for contractors. Get to know who they are and what they do. Many have tracking systems so partners can follow up and document the disposal.

  • Some manage the recycling and repurposing of materials. They recycle paper, plastics and metals, turn wood into mulch or biomass fuel, and provide dirt, rock and sand to landfills as alternative daily cover. Crushed concrete can be repurposed as gravel.

  • If you make visits to the site, learn to recognize the signs of disturbed and dangerous asbestos. It might show cuts or tears, rubbing or abrasions, or be damaged by water. Damaged materials can cause fibers and particles in the air. If you suspect this, call a professional inspector.

If you’d like to know the companies and organizations in your area, there are a number of trade associations that provide helpful lists, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Be Thorough and Take Action

Proper C&D disposal is necessary for the environment and for human health. The good news is many real estate, construction firms, waste management professionals and local retailers realize this and maintain active plans. Learn to partner with them for good business.


Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Jan Green 11/28/2016 08:22 PM
Home Improvement
home improvement

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Harry F. D'Elia
Real Estate and Beyond, LLC - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

Congratulations on your featured article. We are looking forward to the next one.

Nov 28, 2016 05:10 AM #3
Ron Barnes
Associate Broker at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Georgia Properties - Jasper, GA
"Most agents claim they're #1 - I THINK YOU'RE #1!

Really an excellent article to post. This is a subject we don't talk about nearly enough, and it still happens.

Nov 28, 2016 05:59 AM #4
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Every once in a while, I wonder where all the trash people make goes good post

Nov 28, 2016 06:15 AM #5
Ranji Singh
Century 21 Heritage Group Ltd. - Newmarket, ON

This is a timely post for me as I am currently doing some remodelingresulting in need for proper disposal. Thanks for a great post.

Nov 28, 2016 06:29 AM #6
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Thanks for all the great information - glad to see this featured as it's a topic I've hardly seen addressed here or elsewhere.


Nov 28, 2016 07:37 AM #7
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

James, this is a great reminder for all of us! I think beyond the contractor's plan the actual waste hauler is as important if not more important. If you don't pick a reputable waste hauler the best laid plans are useless. My family owned a Mack Truck dealership for 65 years. Mack Trucks is the largest manufacturer of large waste hauling trucks in the US. I have spent a large part of my life on job sites and in landfills. The large national and regional companies are very particular about doing things properly. Some smaller local companies are also very good. However, I have seen small haulers do a lot things the should not do! So contractors need to follow up with their haulers 

Nov 28, 2016 09:08 AM #8
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

I have learned from experience that in new construction, some builders dispose of it on empty lots and hope they are not caught.

Nov 28, 2016 10:03 AM #9
Lisa Friedman
Great American Dream Realty - Essex, VT
28 Years of Real Estate Experience!

Very good post and something I had never thought about. Thank you for making me aware to ask this in the future.

Nov 28, 2016 04:31 PM #10
Larry Johnston
Broker, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate and Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC - Elkhart, IN
Broker,Friends & Neighbors Real Estate, Elkhart,IN

Good evening James White , Excellent blog.  Congratulations of your Feature. Education is the key to many things. We also need to educate ourselves on what contractors are the ones to use.

Nov 28, 2016 04:53 PM #11
Janice Hope Zaltman Realtor,LEED AP
United Realty Group - Fort Lauderdale, FL

Hi James Great post. Wish we really knew cradle to cradle how the materials were made, where and disposed of which is why I thinks it's important to choose a highly reputable builder with credentials such as LEED and employees of high integrity.

Nov 28, 2016 06:45 PM #12
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Interesting  post and topic, yet in all of my experiences in refacing, remodels and redevelopment, the challenge of disposing the C&D was to simply use the local waste management company. Perhaps it's different in rural areas but certainly not in metro areas, or am I mistaken?

Nov 28, 2016 07:38 PM #13
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear James,

We have reuse it centers around here, that will pick up construction materials to be resold to people, who can use them in their projects. Some of them are better than others. Neat places to find unusual stuff, especially for historic homes.

Nov 28, 2016 07:54 PM #14
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Excellent post!  As an EcoBroker this is one of my biggest pet peaves!  Definitely good for a re-blog as a feature, but also to share local resources! 

Nov 28, 2016 08:18 PM #15
Lauren Williams, CPO
Casual Uncluttering LLC - Woodinville, WA
Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes

We often have to factor in very similar concerns in my line of work. Some of our continuing ed courses center on safety in our working environment, and a growing number of us incorporate green practices into our methods. You pointed out some issues, and solutions, I hadn't known. Thank you.

Nov 28, 2016 09:45 PM #16
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I have not had a problem with this too much luckily but can see how somebody would if another person wanted to give them a problem.

Nov 28, 2016 10:37 PM #17
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I understand but Lauren means there because there was always an X factor that you have to account for with personalities.

Lauren Williams

Nov 28, 2016 10:38 PM #18
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

James White researching the contractor is very important - not just only for disposals.

Nov 28, 2016 11:06 PM #19
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

I would not have thought to ask these questions of a contractor, but you are right - disposal is a very important part of the process.

Nov 29, 2016 03:11 AM #20
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

Good information that many overlook or ignore!

Nov 30, 2016 03:47 AM #21
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

a great source for those looking into building - it's always good to check out the contractor's past 'disposal' policies! The asbestos is so scary and I have actually heard with my own ears that they'll "dispose of it like everything else - no big deal!"  Believe me, those don't get hired!  ;-)

Dec 01, 2016 07:19 AM #22
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