Document Type


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Sustainability, Building materials, Recycled Products -- Oregon -- Portland, Housing -- Oregon -- Portland, Construction and demolition debris -- Government policy

Physical Description

16 pages (color illustrations, 1 map)


On October 31st, 2016, the City of Portland instituted an ordinance requiring the deconstruction of all residential homes and duplexes built prior to 1917 or possessing a historical designation. Deconstruction is a relatively new industry, and with this local regulatory encouragement, several new contractors became certified to participate in the expanded market. This report provides background on the industry, largely from the 2016 report researched and written by the Northwest Economic Research Center (NERC) in anticipation of the requirement, and an examination of what has occurred in the year following the ordinance’s passage, using deconstruction and demolition permit data and interviews with certified deconstruction contractors.

In the year following implementation, construction activity, and thus deconstruction and demolition activity, fell somewhat. Permit applications subject to deconstruction amounted to 25% of overall demolition permit applications —while slightly lower than the 33% capture rate predicted in the 2016 NERC report, these deconstructions represent a clear uptick from the period preceding the city’s requirement. In total, there are currently 80 permits for deconstructions in the pipeline (54 of which have been issued), out of 318 demolition and deconstruction permits combined.

Prior to the regulation’s passage, there were two firms performing essentially all full-house deconstructions in the Portland area. At the time of writing, fourteen have completed the City’s deconstruction certification process, and NERC interviewed eleven of them at length by telephone regarding their experience in the industry (the remaining three had not actively participated in the industry since receiving their certification). At this time, the market remains highly concentrated, with four firms completing 80% of deconstructions. The contractors interviewed expressed three familiar challenges in nascent markets: the appropriate level at which to bid on deconstruction projects, difficulty in attracting appropriately trained labor, and difficulties clearing salvaged material in downstream resale markets (a key offset to the higher labor cost that deconstruction entails). Following a more detailed discussion of the interviews and these concerns, the report closes with recommendations for further research and factors which will inform the shape of the market going forwards.

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