Waste Saving Ideas for Self-Build Homes

Did you know that 60 per cent of the UK’s waste comes from the construction industry – 120 million tonnes a year, according to the UK Green Building Council?

If you’re planning to build your own home, you’ve probably thought about how you can make it as energy-efficient as possible to live in. But have you thought about how you can improve the efficiency of the construction process too – and even make the home itself recyclable?

Architect and Brighton University lecturer Duncan Baker-Brown, who founded ecofriendly architecture firm BBM Sustainable Design, told self-build homes website https://www.houseplanninghelp.com/ that the industry needed to think about the resources it was using.

Construction accounts for half the non-renewable resources and 40 per cent of the energy mankind uses around the world, according to contractors Willmott Dixon and the US Green Building Council. And, for a self-builder, an efficient construction process isn’t just good for the planet – it saves you money.

“With one-off houses, between ten and fifteen per cent of demolition waste and new materials get thrown away,” Baker-Brown explained. In other words, for every nine houses we build, the equivalent of a tenth is sent to landfill.

“It’s typically cheaper to throw material resources at a building site to keep it busy, rather than for example running out of plaster and having your plasterers hanging around on site and having to pay them. This is why we always over-order – you always put in an extra 10 per cent on things like tiles and carpet.

“And that’s what we’ve got to avoid. Order the material you need, plan your projects better so there’s a tighter schedule so you’re not hanging around waiting for stuff, and don’t throw materials away.”

If you’re using concrete, mortar and plaster, ensure they’re disposed of carefully. “So often a skip is full of loose materials that could have been reused – until someone pours the waste concrete all over them, and suddenly you’ve got this homogenous lump and there’s no way you can reuse any of it,” Baker-Brown added.

He also believes buildings should be constructed with a view to what can be done with the materials when the building is no longer in use – and advocates pre-fabrication as one way of doing this.

“If something arrives flatpacked and you screw and bolt it together, one day it can be unscrewed and unbolted and reused,” Baker-Brown explained. “It makes financial sense that at the end of a building’s life you can deconstruct it, because then you’ve got the material to sell or reuse. I’m looking at lots of projects across Europe and the UK where people are using materials from old buildings to create new buildings.

“At the moment I think you need to be an experienced architect or contractor to understand the potential for using second-hand material, as there are real issues around insurance and guarantees. But there’s no such thing as waste – it’s just stuff in the wrong place.”

South east London architects Bluelime Home Design has been designing new builds, conversions, extensions, self-builds and custom-builds for 13 years – so we have plenty of experience in making the process as efficient as possible. We have offices in Dartford, Bromley, Bexley, Erith and Croydon –Get in contact to arrange a free architect consultation.

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