What the heck is "deconstruction"? It's the preservationist's answer to the crude act of bulldozing a building and dumping the splintered remains into a dump truck for burial in a landfill. Deconstruction involves going room by room, handpicking features to be salvaged: millwork, crown moldings, pretty leaded windows, still-sound kitchen cabinets, crystal chandeliers, maple floors, and so on. They don't have to be fancy things. Items typically salvaged also include reusable structural commodities, such as bricks and lumber.
Deconstruction salvages still-usable building materials that would otherwise be dumped, wasting precious resources like hardwood and needlessly straining landfills.
On the flip side, the trend also provides a route for consumers to buy affordable salvaged features to spruce up the home, such as maybe a maple cutting block, birch cabinets, a slate countertop or salvaged barn planks that can be transformed into a kitchen table. (See photos: http://www.re-store.org/exampleshome.htm).
Such goodies are sold at salvage stores, which may also be called "reuse stores" or "re-stores." For example, Habitat for Humanity accepts and sells salvaged materials at its ReStores around the country. Some of its stores make enough money to pay for the building of 10 extra Habitat homes a year. (Find stores at http://www.habitat.org/env/restores.aspx).
The demolition and renovation of buildings in the U.S. produces 124,670,000 tons of debris each year, according to the Deconstruction Institute. That's an awful lot when you consider that just one 2,000-square-foot wood-frame home has the potential to yield 6,000-board-feet of reusable lumber. That amount is equal to 33 mature trees-or as much as what 10-acres of planted pine would yield each year.
Deconstruction of your own home can save you some of the cost of having the debris hauled way. There are approximately 3,500 construction and demolition salvage operators around the nation who make a business out of tearing down, removing and salvaging used materials. Plus, it's possible to donate deconstructed materials to organizations that provide them to low-income families-making it a socially responsible thing to do, as well as an environmentally responsible one. And a possible tax deduction sweetens the deal.
For more info:
* Find lots of resources at DeconstructionInstitute.com
* Deconstructing for Dollars: www.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2003/04/07/focus1.html
* "This Old House" magazine's take on green demolition: www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,1593083,00.html
* Imagine paying just $1 for a house, plus moving expenses. It's part of another budding trend the "recycling" of entire houses. See: seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/322210_housemoving03.html
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