Salvage Building Materials

Storage shed made from recycled materials
Shed made from recycled materials

Many opportunities exist to reuse and recycle building materials that come from both demolition and new building projects.

Salvage before demolition

Salvage is the removal of select materials from a building prior to demolition. These materials include items such as architectural features, cabinets, windows, and wood flooring. The typical home or commercial space often contains numerous reusable items.

Items frequently desirable for reuse include:

  • large timbers,
  • wood flooring,
  • wood trim,
  • cabinets,
  • double-pane windows,
  • dimensional lumber,
  • and solid (non-hollow core) doors.

Dimensional lumber is particularly desirable but can sometimes be difficult or expensive to remove. The most important consideration to maximizing reuse is to plan ahead and provide time for removal of desirable items. Salvage can begin at the beginning of a construction project, before demolition and hazardous waste abatement. Salvaging of non-structural items can begin before a demolition permit has been issued. If you do not have the time or knowledge to find outlets for potentially reusable items, call one of the local used building material stores. Store staff is typically available to visit a site to determine whether potentially-salvageable items are desired by their business.

Some of the used building material stores provide deconstruction and salvage services. If a building contains enough desired materials, store staff may be able to remove the items from the building at no charge, and many are able to provide receipts to allow for a tax deduction based on the value of the materials. Any items removed before a building is demolished will reduce disposal costs.

Complete a Salvage Assessment

Seattle requires that construction and demolition permit applicants complete a Salvage Assessment for whole building demolition projects and projects that involve alterations valued at more than $75,000 and/or where the area of work is greater than 750 square feet. 

Complete the form here: Salvage Assessment online

For questions on how to fill out the Salvage Assessment, review the Salvage Assessment FAQs or contact Seattle Public Utilities at:



For comprehensive information about recycling options for different materials, look up your item on Where Does It Go? or call Seattle Public Utilities at (206) 343-8505. Assistance is available for nonstandard recycling, such as acoustic ceiling tile, drywall, porcelain, roofing, and plant/tree salvage.


Local building materials stores work together to encourage used building materials markets through the Northwest Building Salvage Network.


Asbestos: Puget Sound Clean Air Agency
Lead based Paint: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
PCB-containing fluorescent ballasts: Visit the EPA website and search for "PCB ballasts."




Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

Newsletter Updates


Sign up for the latest updates from Public Utilities

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.