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Haul Away Demolition Debris

Construction and demolition are a natural part of the growth of a city. Whether erecting entirely new buildings, tearing down condemned structures, or performing remodels inside a home you own, debris builds up and needs to be cleared away.

Getting rid of demolition debris is a bit more complicated than tossing it in the trash. Chicago has special ordinances to handle as much of this demolition debris as possible.

The city wants to minimize the amount of waste generated and dumped in landfills and promote the recycling of construction and demolition debris as much as possible.

Step 1: Determine Your Project Status

You first need to determine whether or not you’re subject to the city ordinance. The city ordinance relating to construction and demolition debris is 11-4-1905, and the full text can be found here.

The ordinance applies to “contractors,” but their definition is not typical. Here’s the relevant passage:

“’Contractor’ means general contractor as defined in Section 4-36-010 and also includes any person engaged in the demolition or wrecking of a structure for which a permit is required under Section 13-32-230.”

Section 13-32-230, found here, mostly specifies demolition that wrecks or tears down a structure or structural elements of a building. So, suppose you needed to get a permit for your demolition. In that case, you’re subject to the ordinance, whether or not you’re a licensed general contractor, demolitions specialist, or just a homeowner with a remodel.

Project Status

What this means is you do not need a permit (and thus are not subject to the ordinance) if all you’re doing is remodeling a kitchen/bathroom, but if you’re tearing down a structural wing of a building or tearing down a whole building, you need a permit.

Furthermore, if your building is protected under the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, you’ll need additional permission, as the city wants to preserve as much of its history as possible.

Of course, just because you aren’t subject to the ordinance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you can to handle demolition debris properly. Even if you’re doing a remodel, you should still consider properly hauling away and recycling your demolition debris.

If you need a permit for your project, you must apply for it online through the city portal.

Step 2: Check for Hazards

Any time you’re remodeling or tearing down a structure, you have to be aware of the possible hazards that may exist. The most common are lead (in the form of lead paint) and asbestos (found in some forms of insulation, duct wraps, tiles, siding, shingles, and more.) In particular, many older buildings in the Chicago area may have hazardous materials built into them.

“Construction and demolition debris’ has the meaning ascribed to the term in Section 11-4-120 of this Code, but does not include materials that are contaminated by lead, asbestos, or other hazardous materials in such a way as to render recycling illegal or impossible.”

There can be other forms of hazardous material in a home teardown, but those are the most common in specific eras of structure. If the building you’re working on is a newer build, or you’ve already had it tested, you don’t have to worry about hazardous materials. Otherwise, it may be a good idea to contact one of the local remediation companies to test your home.

Check For Hazards

While remediating lead and asbestos can be time-consuming and expensive, it’s essential to the health and well-being of you, the people who work on your project, your neighbors, and everyone in the city when the debris is taken care of properly. It’s also illegal to dump hazardous materials, whether it’s in the trash, as part of junk removal, or even the double-whammy of fly dumping.

At JUNK Relief, we can haul away hazardous materials, but we ask that you let us know ahead of time so we can bring the proper equipment to handle it. We don’t want to put our workers in danger, after all.

Step 3: Determine if You Need a Junk Removal Service

Demolition debris can be hauled away by anyone with the equipment to do so, including you and your truck. Chicago provides a list of construction and demolition recycling centers, which you can find here. You’ll need to know a few things ahead of time, including:

  • Which debris recyclers are in your area.
  • The volume of junk that you need to be recycled.
  • Whether or not you need to sort and classify your debris.

This process will allow you to gather quotes and know where to haul your debris when your project is complete (or ongoing).

If you have too much debris to handle on your own, or you can’t handle it, you can always contact us. As one of Chicago’s top junk removal services, we’re willing and able to haul away pretty much anything. All you need is a description of what needs to be hauled off and a few photographs to estimate volume, and you’re good to go.

Junk Removal

We take great pride in maximizing the amount of recycling we can do with the junk we haul away.  Meanwhile, debris that can’t be repurposed may still be able to be recycled. Waste like plaster, drywall, and scrap wood is taken straight to our partners, Lakeshore Recycling Systems. There, they handle as much recycling as possible and ensure that only the bare minimum of unsalvageable debris is forwarded to landfills.

Why is recycling so important?

  • Debris that we could otherwise recycle takes up a ton of space in the already limited landfills, which stresses waste management.
  • Discarding recyclable materials means other projects must spend more on new materials rather than purchasing recycled materials, increasing costs for everyone involved.
  • Less recycled materials mean more demand for new materials, increasing the price.

In general, it’s an environmental and social issue that the city is pushing for – and has been since 2006.

These days, demolition projects are supposed to recycle at least 50% of their debris, with exceptions for hazardous materials.

Step 4: Complete Your Demolition

We understand that you may have already started your demolition project by the time you’re reading this, but if you’re still in the planning phases, now is the time to get to work. Demolition is the fun part, after all!

It’s generally a good idea to maintain best practices when you’re demolishing anything.

Complete Your Demolition

Chicago offers a document full of those best practices. You can read the entire thing here, but we’ll summarize the essential parts.

  • Properly secure your job site. Chicago requires a properly-anchored chain link fence around the work site, and it needs to have fabric mesh free from advertising.
  • Do what you can to minimize dust – this may include chutes, tarps, and water to moisten anything that would create dust and keep the dust down.
  • Keep the public way (including roads, sidewalks, and parkways) clear, and don’t let vehicles track debris from your demolition site.
  • Don’t let standing water accumulate; take care of any standing water that forms.
  • Perform any rodent abatement as necessary. You don’t want your demolition site to harbor rodents or feed them.
  • Be aware of noise ordinances. No loud noises or demolition is allowed before 8 am or after 9 pm, and no loading or unloading is permitted before 7 am or after 10 pm.

With all of this in mind, you can complete your demolition project. You should generally try to sort your debris (if you’re working with a recycling center that requires it to be sorted) or otherwise put it all in containers, and don’t over-fill the containers – this might mean you need multiple phases of junk being hauled away for larger projects. That’s fine! Handle it as necessary for the scope of your project.

When your demolition project is complete, you should be left with a clean work site and a bare minimum of impact on the surrounding ward or the city as a whole.

Step 5: File Your Paperwork

When your project is complete, your demolition debris is hauled away, and your site is cleaned up, there’s just one thing left: file your paperwork with the city.

Of course, if your demolition project was small, informal, or didn’t need a permit, you aren’t subject to this paperwork either. Feel free to skip this section if it doesn’t apply to you; we won’t mind.

At the beginning of your project, you likely needed to get a permit for your work. When the project is done, you need to submit two pieces of paperwork to the city to be tracked.

File Your Paperwork

The first is the City of Chicago Construction & Demolition Debris Recycling Compliance Form. This form provides the city with information about you, your site, and the amount of debris removed and recycled, broken down by category.

One thing to note is that if you undershoot and don’t recycle at least 50% of your demolition debris (by weight), you will need to pay a fine to the city. The penalty is $500 per 1% under 50% if your demolition site is under 10,000 square feet. If it’s 10,000 square feet or over, that fine doubles to $1,000 per 1%.

So if you only recycled 40%, you would need to pay either $5,000 or $10,000! It’s much better to have your debris recycled, right?

Note that if you undershoot the recycling amount but disagree with the calculated penalty, you can request a hearing when you file this paperwork. Hopefully, though, you shouldn’t need to do so.

Also, this paperwork needs to be signed and notarized by a notary public.

The second form you need to fill out is the City of Chicago Construction and Demolition Debris Log and Waste Hauler/Recycler Affidavit.

This is a much less complicated form and is essentially just a record of what debris, how much junk you have and when the junk was hauled away, and who did the hauling. We’re happy to fill out this form for you if necessary!

You should be good to go when your project is complete, and your paperwork is filed.

Need Demolition Debris Hauled Away and Recycled?

Contact us!

We’re always available to hear about your project and give you a quote immediately. You can call us, text us, or reach out online. All we need is a description of your project, notice of any hazardous materials, and an estimate of how much volume you need to be hauled away, and we can give you a quick and accurate quote.

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We can remove pretty much anything! For example, in construction and demolition, we can remove:

  • Carpets
  • Wood framing and debris
  • Cabinetry
  • Sinks and counters
  • Drop ceilings
  • Plumbing
  • Insulation
  • Fences
  • Excess building material
  • Construction waste
  • And more!

If you have hazardous materials you need to be removed, we can do that too; just let us know to bring the right equipment and trained staff to do it.

While we can haul away anything and recycle it appropriately, we do ask that you let us know about specific concerns, like large amounts of bricks/cement/stone that may require multiple trucks to prevent overloading weight limits. Don’t worry; it’s a simple process, and we won’t surprise you with hidden charges or fees. You’ll know what our quote is ahead of time.

Contact us today if you have a demolition project in the Chicago area! We can haul away junk from a project currently underway or just completed, and we can help you plan your demolition and haul off junk at a later day, as necessary.


Joe Weidman

Joe is a Chicago native, born and raised in Elmhurst. He founded Junk Relief more than 10 years ago and has worked with more than 20,000 homeowners and businesses throughout Chicagoland. His passion for starting a business in junk removal stemmed from seeing the need to do things differently. He prides himself on his company's model to provide unexpectedly professional service.


If you’ve got junk in Chicago or the Chicagoland Suburbs, we can help. CALL US or TEXT US at (312) 800-1940.


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