Firm-Wide blog

Are Recycled Building Materials Safe for New Buildings?

By Burg Simpson
March 31, 2016
2 min read

Climate change remains a hot button issue that has galvanized reactions on the global, national, state, and local levels. With international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol setting carbon dioxide reduction goals for almost every country in the developed world, environmental awareness has blossomed in virtually every industry. The construction sector is no different, with the concept of “green building” gaining ground as a means through which homeowners and businesses can work to reduce climate change.

Recycling trend arrives at a building site near you

One aspect of the green building trend is the emergence and increased popularity of using recycled building materials. A wide variety of materials can be repurposed in new construction, ranging from recycled urban waste (newspaper fiber, for example) to reclaimed lumber from demolished buildings.

Proponents of recycled building materials tout their benefits, such as ostensibly cutting the carbon footprint by reducing the need to manufacture new materials. They also claim that recycled materials are just as strong and useful as their new counterparts.

No track record?

Understandably, many homeowners are eager to dive into the green building push, but often without questioning the value or durability of recycled building materials. While the green building movement looks great on paper, the bottom line remains that how recycled materials will perform in the long run is unknown; the extent to which many recycled building materials will hold up to the elements and normal wear and tear remains to be seen. No matter what, the “green building” and the use of recycled materials should not equate to the use of substandard building materials.

Recycling doesn’t remove rights

Regardless of a building material’s source, homeowners have rights when contractors or builders use second-rate materials or engage in shoddy work. Specifically, homeowners are entitled to be made whole under Colorado law. This may mean forcing builders to fix their defective work (including removing and replacing substandard materials) or provide monetary damages to make up for the losses a homeowner has sustained.

Homeowners who have suffered due to defective building materials should speak to an attorney who can advise them of their rights.

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