Ask Renee: Salvaging demolished homes 

How can you stop entire homes from going into the dump?

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Hi Renee,

My question for ILG, HEC, etc, is why isn't Indianapolis salvaging so much as a single brick from all the homes it's demolishing?


Additional background information: Gary bought two blighted properties and is trying to fix them up. There is a house on the same street that is slated for demolition and he would like to have some of the materials inside to use in the rehab of his properties, but has been told that he may not enter the demo house to salvage materials. He believes he witnessed a house being demolished by Ray’s Trash and nothing was salvaged.

Hi Gary,

Like a house in the suburbs, that’s a big question with several layers. I reached out to multiple sources and asked a lot of question in hopes of recovering an answer for you.

From the City, I understand that the Mayor’s office is very interested in having a program to salvage reusable materials from houses prior to demolition and has been in discussion with local organizations in hopes of formalizing a partnership. It is not possible for liability reasons to allow an individual citizen, like you, to enter a property for the purpose of salvaging.

The really good news is that Ray’s does salvage materials from demolition projects. They actually consider what can be removed safely and easily, and has re-marketable value, when bidding on a demo project because salvaging is part of their business model. Recently, they employed an individual who works closely with the demolition crews to identify and recover various objects for resale, like light fixtures doors, cabinetry hardware, cabinets, countertops, fixtures, desks, and chairs. Ray’s occasionally has sales where these items can be purchased and some of their recovered items are in salvage resale shops across the Midwest.

Most of their salvaging takes place on-site, before a demo starts, but sometimes materials are integral to the structure and have to be removed during demo. They share this example:

“We demolished a cool old building in Danville early this year and after Shelly had recovered some items, the demo guys discovered some very old poplar posts that were covered and structural to the building. The demo guys contacted their supervisor and made arrangements to carefully save the posts for Shelly to market as a salvage item.”

Residents are welcome to visit the Ray’s warehouse to see what they have in inventory. And I’m sure you could contact them about a particular property (if they are the company awarded the project) to ask them to salvage particular materials. Knowing that they already have a buyer will surely motivate them to recover what you need.

If you happen to observe a demolition, know that recovery isn’t always visible. Recyclable metals are recovered quickly and removed swiftly to avoid theft. Sometimes concrete and bricks are recovered depending on the job and the quantity. And all materials are hauled off by a Ray’s truck so it may look like it’s going to the dump.

Piece Out, 

Editors Note: Renee will be continuing further into this answer next week.


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Renee Sweany

Renee Sweany

Renee has spent the past several years surrounding herself with like-minded people who share her passion for caring for the planet. She began writing “Ask Renee” after four years of offering green tips through her e-newsletter Green Piece Indy. E-mail her your green living queries at

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