It’s common for salvaged and reclaimed building parts to be used in historic building restoration and renovations. Reclaimed materials have been previously used in a building and then recovered and reused to restore a historic building elsewhere. While the salvaged materials may require altering in some way, they won’t be reprocessed at all and still be in their original form.

stone decoration on old building

Using old building parts helps retain the character of a historic building and supports traditional industries and vital craft skills.

Reclaiming, Recycling and Recusing Materials

Salvaged materials are often used for certain key features characteristic of the building, particularly when it comes to repeated elements where one or two are missing. Reclaimed original building parts will almost always look much better than modern replicas and likely to be far cheaper. Some original building materials were also made to a far higher standard than is possible today. For instance, older timber is often superior to the faster-grown softwoods and expensive hardwoods available today.

All manner of materials can be reclaimed and reused in restoration projects, including:

  • Slate roofing
  • Bricks
  • Fireplaces
  • Ceramic tiles
  • Window frames
  • Doors
  • Metal fixtures and fittings
  • Glass panels
  • Stairs
  • Steel sections
  • Timber

Why Reuse Old Building Parts

There is growing pressure on the construction industry to be more sustainable. The industry has a huge impact on the environment when it comes to energy consumption, natural resources, pollution, and waste. The building industry accounts for 122 million tonnes of waste in the UK and around 18% of carbon dioxide emissions. There are also additional environmental costs associated with building materials such as extraction, production, manufacture and transportation. Using reclaimed materials is an effective way to address this. Salvaged and reclaimed materials significantly reduce the environmental impact and prevent the excessive production of new materials while reducing how much waste is sent to landfill.

How to Source Materials

A variety of suppliers across the UK offer different types of material that can be used to repair and restore traditionally constructed historic buildings. Such materials include hand-made bricks, clay roofing tiles and bricks, hair for plaster, and lime for mortars. You can source materials from salvage centres, reclamation yards that buy and sell materials salvaged from demolition sites. You can also purchase materials directly from a demolition site or remodelling project. Many of these projects involve painstakingly dismantling buildings to ensure someone else can use the materials elsewhere.

Wherever you get your salvaged materials, make sure you always use a reputable source. The seller should be able to provide you with details about their guarantees and return policies. Check if a dealer is signed up to the Salvo Code, a voluntary protocol to reassure buyers that items have not been stolen or removed from protected buildings.

You can find further guidance and details of reclaimed building material suppliers in specialist directories such as The Building Conservation Directory and Salvo.

Reclamation in Sustainable Development

Rapid development in the UK has seen many historic buildings demolished in favour of new affordable housing and commercial spaces. Redirecting old building parts from the waste stream and reusing them in other projects nearby is a crucial part of a project’s sustainability. Most construction projects create a huge amount of construction waste. The potential to redirect this waste away from landfill and avoid the need to develop new materials is enormous. When materials are salvaged from an existing building site, the environmental impact is almost nil. The effect is so significant even if not sourced locally, reclaimed materials are still the most environmentally friendly way to supply materials to the building industry.

Repurposing salvaged materials is not just a way of ensuring sustainable development and reducing waste. It’s also a way to celebrate age, history, character, and even those wonderfully pleasing imperfections of an older building. 

We are experts in sensitive façade restoration, external stone cleaning, masonry repairs and the conservation of listed and heritage buildings. Speak to a member of our team today about restoring your brick, stone, or rendered historic building.

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Building Transformation’s unquestionable honesty and enthusiasm for ensuring the client receives the correct whole-life solution (rather than a quick fix) resulted in us being able to ensure the building was not only returned to its former glory, but will stay that way for years to come. I would recommend them to anyone.

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The work provided by Building Transformation was excellent. Their product and building exteriors knowledge is detailed, comprehensive and practically applied to the client’s needs. They offer a professional, detailed, high-quality and customer- focused service which meets the short, medium and long-term needs of the client, and provides practical, cost-realistic advice.

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A 200,000 sq. ft., four-storey leisure venue in the heart of Nottingham city centre surrounded by major traffic routes needed work to be done overnight to deal with the traffic issues, while the site remained open throughout. The project took around three weeks to complete and went exceptionally well; the Building Transformation staff were flexible and able to work round dynamic operational issues. The clean was of a high standard and has made a significant different to the image of the building. A very difficult job done well.

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May & Co have worked with Building Transformation on a number of projects which have included external building cleaning and refurbishment. They provided a great service, supported by the high level of documentation from the initial quotation to books and industry-related guidance, all relevant to our project.

Anton Theobald - May & Co

I am very satisfied in the manner the job was conducted. Also the level of cleaning provided and attention to detail is much appreciated.

Waqas Bin Tahir - Ibis Southampton

I am using Building Transformation’s work to help justify façade restoration works around our business. They have produced excellent presentations on what can be achieved and is a brilliant piece of informed marketing that is helping slowly win people over in our business to take façade cleaning and restoration more seriously.

Needless to say Building Transformation is a name that is now becoming known and respected.

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Sarah Cameron - My Hotels Group

Just signed off the job with Richard. Myself, the bosses and the tenant all are very pleased with the work. It definitely looks rejuvenated just a case of painting the concrete window surrounds in the new year to finish it off. Have found your company and staff very professional and helpful which has facilitated a project with minimal inconvenience and disruption to our in situ tenants.

Mark Hollinshead - Headruddy Property Development

I had a walk around today with Dave and am impressed with the work so far. Dave and the team have done a great job.

I’d certainly love to work with you in the future so perhaps before the job is completed we could look at what opportunities there are for the future.

Marie Green - Novotel Sheffield

At this stage, from my point of view your team has been extremely professional, informing us of what was happening at all times and most importantly no disruption whatsoever to our guests and business.

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Maria Pinana Mateu - Science Museum

The team at Building Transformation understood our challenge of finding a facade cleaning solution that would initially restore the glazing to its original state, protecting our building for years to come. Through intelligent and thorough testing right through to the full restoration of Block D, we have been very satisfied with the project management and delivery of the cleaning programme.

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Thank you for all the work that you carried out in cleaning the outside of our school. We are delighted with the results. You have managed to completely remove heavy staining from many areas around the building.

We found you extremely easy to work with: your quote was reasonable, you carried out the work quickly and you were very flexible in terms of timings.

Tamsin Griffith - Courtney Road Primary School, Bristol

have worked with Building Transformation on several projects within the hospitality industry and have found
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