For the past three years, Daniel Mackey Construction, San Jose, Calif., has taken the time to find ways to recycle and reuse materials. “It helps channel products in a more responsible way,” owner Daniel Mackey says. “[And homeowners] view us as more professional because of our systematic approach.”

The company educates clients about its process, which it uses on every project. “We consider it a part of doing business,” Mackey says. During pre-construction, the crew decides what can be recycled or reused. The remodeler uses both his own crews and subcontractors to disassemble projects.

The firm stages recyclable materials in its shop, such as metal, cardboard, and some wood. Once the crew gathers enough of one item, it's taken to the recycling facility, which pays $60 to $100 per ton. The firm holds old-growth lumber for use in future projects.

When it comes to appliances, employees get first pick, otherwise the units are placed on the driveway with a sign offering them to neighbors. The company also posts items on Craig's List ( and Freecycle ( Mackey says this beats paying $35 to $40 per item to dump large appliances.

California remodelers can estimate the value of products up to $5,000 and submit that amount for a tax credit. “For houses with solid oak doors or products with a higher value, you can hire an appraiser to get higher tax credits,” Mackey says. Such tax credits help offset the cost of deconstruction.

Some nearby cities such as Palo Alto and San Francisco have recycling mandates requiring contractors to put down a large deposit, which is refunded with proof of recycling. “In time, I think these California trends will move across the country,” Mackey says.