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The One Dreaded Thing That Can Stop Reuse When Decanting Buildings

by Becky

This article is all about a problem.

The problem is how to maximise the opportunity that building decommissions, or decants, present, especially when it comes to the reuse of surplus assets.

The challenge is that there are so many critical, and often conflicting deadlines, that the reuse of surplus assets is often left to the last minute. By this time, it is usually too late to find new owners for those assets!


Why should you read this article?

We talk about the one barrier that is put up which stops reuse in it's tracks and then we explain how to get over that barrier to maximise reuse.

If you want to maximise the value of the surplus assets that are generated as part of relocation projects, decants, decommissions or building rationalisation, you will immediately recognise this problem!

We explain how you can find new homes for assets internally and externally - way in advance of any clearance date.


What is the barrier?

When you approach your colleagues who are part of the decant process they usually say:

'We are taking these items with us. Those are getting left behind.... actually no.. we don't know if we are taking those...so I am not sure what is getting left behind yet'

What is the impact?

This then puts the stoppers on finding homes for those assets way in advance of the move and more than likely will result in a load of stuff becoming available a few days before it needs to move which means the chance of reuse is lower

What can you do?

You can educate them that if all of the assets are uploaded to Warp It, you can ensure that all of the items that you want to move over are claimed by the right people internally  first. 

Once they are claimed, you can then book out what you need for other internal needs and offer everything else externally...way before the building clearance date.

If you do this, you can track and analyse the value and benefits to show at the end of the project.


The process

The Warp It software manages who gets what, and tracks it all with confirmations. You can see stats such as waste avoided, carbon saved, financial savings and much more.
Demonstrate the potential value of clearances by tracking the savings.
At the end of the project, you can say 'By doing reuse we have saved £X amount', and this will put you in a great position to grow and bolster your reuse efforts.
To use Warp It as a platform for internal asset redistribution during the project.

1) Catalogue all assets right at the start of the move process. This post will make it quicker - How to add items quickly in succession. 

2) Make sure that assets are set as "not available" until the point where they are not being used anymore (you could set the available from date as they "staff vacancy date"?).   

3) When you are adding the assets, put into the additional info box a secret code  just for the staff who are getting first dibs!

4) Share the secret code with the people who are in charge of claiming assets for their area of work in the new building.

5) Using that secret code, they can search the system and then find items that are available to them for the new building and book them in the normal way.

6) When the items with the secret code become available on the specified date, users are sent a notification and the assets are then booked by the right people and all of the trades are tracked. 

7) Everything else then becomes available for the rest of the staff population to book in advance of the  the staff vacation date.

8) You can also make items available to donate to 3rd parties and charities once staff have had their pick.

9) This is all in advance of the staff vacation date- so that in the limited slot between staff vacation and emptying the building- all those assets are booked out and redistributed. 


building decant clearance decommission old building

Getting things right to make decommission reuse happen

Traditionally, reuse of surplus assets is very much an afterthought in the building decommission process. There are so many different critical factors that need to be right to make the building decant or decommission process happen in an effective manner. There is always a critical timeline that the project manager has to manage. Dates change, buildings don't get sold, departments change their minds and strategy changes.


The reuse often concept comes too late

Often, when a staff body moves out of a building, that is the first time that the reuse of surplus assets is thought of. By that time it is often too late, because perhaps the staff move out on a Wednesday and the building is demolished the week after, or the building is sold the very next week. This means the time opportunity is really limited in getting those assets reused in an effective manner.

What often happens is those assets get left behind and then the clearance contractor gives a quote for the collection and scrapping of those items. That leaves the client in a really poor negotiation process, often paying over the odds to get potentially valuable assets scrapped. 


In an ideal world…

On the building vacancy date those assets should already have found a home to move to another point of reuse within the estate.  

Our software supports this, so that those assets have new homes to go to within the organisation, or to third parties.

The benefit of that is that there is no waste liability left at the end of that building move.

Watch it working in action: Sunderland City Council decant from 14 buildings into one. Case study right here.


The watch list

We ensure this happens by listing assets right at the start of the building clearance procedure, so that we can get those assets matched to new homes by the time the clearance date comes.

Our system has what we call a ‘watch list'.

Staff and external partners can get visibility on assets that are going to become available on the clearance date. 

They add them to their own watch list.

This means that on the vacancy date, those assets are transferred internally for reuse, or alternatively, they can be transferred for reuse externally as well.

See more here.


making a chance decommission decant empty clearance

Making a change

This is a case of moving from an old procedure to a new procedure. Those assets are getting taken out the building, scrapped and sent off to landfill. This current procedure holds no value - it's broken.

The new procedure is where internal logistics come in, move those assets from A to B internally, or, a third party comes in and takes those assets away and reuses them anyway.

How do you implement this new procedure?

First of all, you need to liaise with your capital development team or whoever is looking after the process, early on. You need to find somebody who is open to this new procedure in the relocations team or capital development team, and you need to start small.

Start with a small project. It might just be a room, it might just be one floor of a building, but start small and use our software to manage that process.

Then, analyse how it went, look at what worked and what didn't work, and do a case study (template here) on that small project. With that case study you go to the rest of the capital development team, and you say, "Hey, look what we did, this what we saved, this is how it worked." Then, look for a project a little bit bigger, and repeat the process.

Then, grow the case studies in increments, to the point where you then embed this into your building decant procedure.

This way, one of the first things that is done when you decide that you are going to decant a building is, you spend some time and money to catalogue the assets and add them to the reuse system, and you start that procedure.

You are tracking the benefits in terms of cost, carbon and waste savings- and you can show at the end of the project that the new way saved time and money. (See here)

After each project...

After every project you should be demonstrating what the benefits are by doing a case study, and then after you've been through that process three, four or five times, you are starting to transition it into actual corporate practice, so that this becomes a normal procedure. You have moved from that old scrapping procedure to the new procedure, where you are maximising the reuse of surplus assets.

Additional resources

In this article we talk about the best ways to maximise the reuse of surplus assets, as part of the building decommission process.

We offer advice on how to get the relocation or capital development team, who are usually responsible for building decommissions, involved with reuse.

We provide techniques about how to do all of this in a nice pain-free manner, and give you access to a communication download template for building clearances.


More case studies...


We've got a guide to communicating building clearances for you to download, to help publicise your building decant and the associated surplus asset opportunity to your internal staff. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your building clearances.

warp it building clearance template guide decomission reuse surplus assets


Here's another Warp It hack

Use our templates to save time and get ideas!

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Reuse is a simple solution for a big problem. I am here to help you understand the story and participate!


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