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Milwaukee Deconstruction Ordinance In Effect

Effective January 1, 2018, Milwaukee’s deconstruction ordinance targets older residential properties seeking demolition.

The ordinance, proposed by Ald. Robert Bauman and co-sponsored by Alds. Nik Kovac and Khalif Rainey, seeks to:

  • Maximize the amount of valuable materials salvaged.
  • Reduce demolition waste, saving taxpayer money and minimizing new landfill need.
  • Create employment opportunities for city residents.
  • Reduce carbon emissions associated with demolition.
  • Minimize the adverse effects of demolition by discovering and safely removing contaminated materials.
  • Reduce potentially hazardous airborne substance release.
  • Preserve Milwaukee’s built history through material reuse.

What does this mean for homeowners?

Per administrative rules, this legislation affects homeowners whose single to four-unit residence was built in 1929 or earlier. Additionally, homeowners living in a designated historic structure, as well as properties located in historic district, are covered by this ordinance.

If you are a homeowner affected by this ordinance, WasteCap's deconstruction and salvage services team is here to help. WasteCap's experts can handle your deconstruction, freeing up your time and preventing headaches. WasteCap can also save you money by providing a tax donation receipt for all materials donated to its retail store.

What does this mean for contractors?

A number of pieces must be considered in order to ensure the project meets ordinance specifications. This includes completing a deconstruction project assessment, hiring a certified deconstruction contractor or consultant, displaying proper signage, following heavy machinery guidelines and documenting all salvageable materials.

Deconstruction Project Assessment

Before the project begins, a number of requirements must also be met. The first of which includes completing the pre-deconstruction form that must be submitted alongside the demolition permit application. This form provides a summary of potential materials to be salvaged from a site.

Deconstruction Contractor

After a property has been deemed to meet ordinance requirements, deconstruction can begin. Deconstruction should be carried out by a certified deconstruction contractor listed on the department’s website. At least one certified employee of the contractor must be on site during any deconstruction-related activities.

Per administrative rules, the certified deconstruction contractor must:

  • Be able to obtain permits to raze and remove Milwaukee buildings in accordance with chapter 218 of the Milwaukee code of ordinances.
  • Attend classroom and hands-on training.
  • Pass a written exam and hands-on skills and safety assessment.
  • Document hours of experience in specific core curriculum areas.
  • Complete an application provided by the Department of Neighborhood services.

A contractor may also choose to hire a certified deconstruction consultant instead of completing this certification. Utilizing a certified deconstruction consultant allows contractors to spend their time on revenue driving activities rather than stuck in a difficult certification process.

Deconstruction Consultant

A certified deconstruction consultant is an individual who has successfully completed the Deconstruction Consultant Certification Program hosted by the Department of Neighborhood Services or approved by the Commissioner. Deconstruction consultants have demonstrated greater expertise and skill, and have gone through a more rigorous program than certified deconstruction contractors.

This certification allows deconstruction consultants to subcontract out their services to contractors lacking any deconstruction certification.

Hiring a deconstruction consultant, like WasteCap, is the easiest and most efficient way for contractors to complete a deconstruction in the City of Milwaukee. WasteCap can handle the pre-deconstruction assessment, bid preparation and review as well as documentation and reporting. Additionally, WasteCap will create the materials management plan and handle all inspections, education and necessary instruction.


Signage, approved and provided by the commissioner, must be displayed on site. The signage will indicate deconstruction is taking place and provide the public with contact information. It will be displayed visibly for pedestrians and motorists without disturbing the public right-of-way.

Heavy Machinery

Though heavy machinery may be used to assist the deconstruction process, it may not be utilized to dismantle or remove building materials in a way that renders them unsalvageable. This applies to track hoes, excavators, skid steer loaders, and forklifts.


Thorough documentation of materials is required throughout the deconstruction process. Damaged salvageable materials and materials used on site must be documented in addition to materials removed for resale or reuse.

After the salvageable materials have been removed from the site, the demolition permit holder must retain copies of receipts for sale, donation, recycling and disposal of materials. If a receipt cannot be obtained, photographs may be substituted. The commissioner may ask the permit holder to produce these documents anytime before the permit is closed.


Contractors must also take into account the required 85% landfill diversion rate by weight. Concrete and other normally recyclable masonry materials shall not be calculated or considered in assessing project goals. However, this rate can be achieved by selling, donating or reusing other material on or off-site. Though the ordinance requires this, the diversion rate may be adjusted if it is not economically or practically feasible for the project.

What is Exempt?

Safety is of the utmost importance when considering deconstruction and if a property is deemed too unsafe or hazardous for deconstruction, a request for exemption may be submitted. The commissioner will make the final determination of exemption after the request is submitted and an inspection occurs.

WasteCap Services

Have you considered deconstruction instead of conventional demolition? If you choose to deconstruct your property, you can experience the economic, social and environmental benefits firsthand. WasteCap experts will provide deconstruction project management services to maximize the amount of materials that are reused, salvaged and recycled.

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