How to Get Rid of Rubble

House being demolished
(Image credit: Getty)

If you have a building project coming up, then you are going to need to know how to get rid of rubble.

Here’s the lowdown for everything you need to know for how to get rid of rubble from your site – whether you are recycling, reselling or sending to landfill.

Thirteen percent of construction products are sent to landfill without ever being used on site. There are several options when it comes to rubble removal, and removing other building waste:

  • Recycling
  • Skips
  • Skip bags
  • Grab lorries

The choice you make should be based on what this mess is, your budgetaccess to the site and the total amount of waste you need to get rid of. Waste on site normally falls into one of six categories:

  • excavated soil from groundworks
  • rubble from demolition
  • waste packaging
  • disused tools, cans and brushes
  • offcuts of building materials
  • unused materals
  • stripped out fittings.

Recycling Site Waste for Rubble Removal

The shift in recent years towards sustainability has placed greater scrutiny on the way we dispose of our surplus building materials. The key is to think carefully, and to be realistic, about what you can reuse either in your own house or give or sell to others.

General rubble can be compacted on site and reused as hardcore for landscaping purposes.

Whole bricks and blocks can be used elsewhere — even if you don’t particularly like them, they’re worth saving for the likes of minor landscaping projects.

Depending on the size of the project, you could employ a specialist contractor to manage the recycling of your general waste. They will sort through your waste and separate it – much like the household recycling collection – into reusable items. Visit to find out more, or try asking your local authority.

In recent years, council household waste recycling centres have restricted the amount of building waste that you’re allowed to tip free of charge and the rules on disposing of waste at local authority sites are fairly strict. You’re allowed to dispose of waste from building work carried out on your property as long as you’re the person who carried out the work. So if you’re employing builders you’ll need to treat your waste as commercial waste.

Bear in mind that local authorities are charged a landfill tax and so they are keen to get you to recycle as much of your waste as possible.

Anything deemed to be ‘construction waste’ including:

  • rubble
  • roofing materials
  • ceramic tiles
  • earth, soil and turf
  • doors and windows

Arriving in a van, pick-up or trailer is likely to be redirected to a waste transfer station where it will be weighed and charged. The rules vary from one council to another, but trying to get round them by making multiple car visits can backfire if the number of visits and the amount of waste being deposited is deemed ‘excessive’.

Even when you turn up in your own car, most waste from construction work, including home DIY projects, may be chargeable if it’s not classified as ‘household waste’. Some rules can appear a little odd, for example basins, WC pans and toilet cisterns might be chargeable, whereas baths might not be.

Charges vary considerably. Some council tips charge as little as £1.50 to dispose of a single WC pan, compared to others that charge more than £10 for the same service. So, it’s worth checking how much your local council tip charges for construction waste before you head down there.

Using Construction Marketplaces for Rubble Removal

Salvage yards and the likes of Gumtree and eBay are all great resources for those trying to get rid of materials and those looking to buy them. One company has clocked their success and created a dedicated construction marketplace which allows users to search for free or reduced-price building materials in their area.

EnviroMate helps users find a home for leftover, unwanted and/or unused materials rather than seeing them go to landfill. This offers a sustainable solution to the vast amounts of waste generated by the construction industry, which shockingly contributes a third of all waste that makes its way to landfill.

Removing Asbestos

If you have found asbestos in your project, it will need to be taken to a licensed asbestos disposal site. Although you can remove it yourself, you should take advice from your local authority first or get in touch with the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA), which has details of companies who can carry out the removal for you.

You will then need to have it collected, either by a private company or in some cases by the local authority. Some authorities will remove a small amount for free, while others charge — this varies, but expect to pay around or upwards of £40/200kg.

Using Skips for Rubble Removal

Skips are the most obvious way of getting rid of building detritus. They come in many different sizes, get dropped off and picked up for you, and can be packed to fit in a good amount of site waste.

Skip containing building waste and rubble

(Image credit: Getty)
  • 1-2 cubic yards: These measure 0.76m (h) x 1.52m (l) x 1.22m (w) and can take the equivalent of around 25 to 35 black rubbish bags. From £60.
  • 3-4 cubic yards: Measuring 0.97m (h) x 1.83m (l) x 1.29m (w), they take the equivalent of around 40 black bin bags. From £90.
  • 6-8 cubic yards: These measure 1.22m (h) x 3.66m (l) x 1.68m (w). They take the equivalent of around 70 to 80 black bin bags. From around £120.

This is important to establish, as you might have to apply to your local authority for a permit first for those skips placed on the road. Some authorities ask that the skip hire company applies, which is obviously less hassle for you.

If you have a driveway that can accommodate a skip then great, but do not assume you own the grass verge in front of your house if you plan on locating the skip there — check first. If you have no room at all for a skip, some companies will wait while you load.

There are some things you can’t put in a skip, including:

  • Asbestos
  • Tyres
  • Refrigerators and freezers
  • Liquids such as paints, oils or solvents
  • Televisions
  • Light bulbs
  • Chemicals

Plasterboard is generally discouraged because the gypsum it’s made from contains high levels of sulphates which can emit poisonous hydrogen sulphide in landfill. However, it is occasionally accepted as long as it’s dry and separate from other waste.

You may also be asked about quantities of heavier waste like soil and rubble, which may be limited to maximum eight cubic yard skips.

  • When booking your skip, tell the hire company how long you want yours left on site for — normally up to a fortnight but longer periods can be negotiated. Allow a couple of days’ notice for delivery and up to a week for collection.
  • Don’t be tempted to overfill your skip. If you pile too much stuff on top, the driver may refuse to take anything but a ‘level load’ on grounds of safety. Although the contents are covered with tarpaulin netting, this has its limits. There is an art to packing skips, and lining the sides with old doors or sheets of wood so that the contents are secure creates a little more cubic capacity. Be aware, though, that skips left unguarded overnight on city streets can mysteriously fill up!
  • Finally, make sure the company you hire is registered as Environment Agency approved and aim to get at least three estimates in order to get the best deal.

Skip Bags for Rubble Removal

Skip bags, otherwise known as rubble bags or rubble sacks, are great for smaller projects, or for when you take on a renovation or move into an old property and want to remove old carpet or furniture.

They cut out the need for trips to the local tip and are easier to find a place for than a skip. They can be bought at many DIY warehouses or online and can then be collected when you have finished filling them (try Once full, a collection can normally be arranged within five working days.

Rubble bag collection

(Image credit: Hippo)

Prices tend to be cheaper than a skip, with Hippobag’s ‘Hipposkip’, which takes 4.5 cubic yards (which would take approximately 1.5 tonnes or one whole kitchen), costing £140.

On the downside, skip bags take less waste than either a skip or a grab lorry. Where they really score is in terms of convenience, especially for building works on smaller plots with limited access. Collection is via trucks with on-board hiab cranes that can lift the bags over walls and fences within four metres of the kerb.

Removing Rubble Using Grab Lorries

Those undertaking very large-scale building works – digging foundations or demolishing sections of a building, for example – might consider hiring a grab lorry as a cost-effective alternative to a skip. They tend to come in three sizes:

  • four-wheel
  • six-wheel
  • eight-wheel.

A four-wheel lorry can usually carry one skip load (around 9 tonnes), while an eight-wheel can take around three skip loads (or 18 tonnes). Considering that prices start from around £300 for an eight-wheel grab lorry (plus VAT), they are a much more cost-effective way of getting rid of larger loads than a skip.

They also take much of the hard work out of rubbish removal. Rather than having to load a skip, a grab lorry’s hydraulically operated extending crane can do it for you, scooping it up and depositing it straight onto the truck. And with a reach of around eight metres, they should be able to pick up waste over most walls and fences.

They are a handy option for those struggling to know where to locate a skip, although you’ll still need to find a place to dump all the ‘grabbed’ waste — which can mean a great big pile of rubble on your previously pristine driveway or lawn. Many grab lorries have a good reach (of around 8m) from the side of the lorry, so are able to collect waste from over hedges and fences, and around obstacles such as lampposts.

They are a handy option for those struggling to know where to locate a skip, although you’ll still need to find a place to dump all the ‘grabbed’ waste — which can mean a great big pile of rubble on your previously pristine driveway or lawn. Many grab lorries have a good reach (of around 8m) from the side of the lorry, so are able to collect waste from over hedges and fences, and around obstacles such as lampposts.

Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.