Deconstruction Savvy

For the past few years, I have been explaining deconstruction to clients, and lately it seems to be growing in interest and curiosity.  Deconstruction is the process of salvaging materials from a home.  Both raw and finished materials could be salvaged and reused in a new home, or even donated to a local NFP.

Major issues in the home sometimes are too costly or may be difficult to address.  Previously, these homes may have been touted as potential tear-downs, with a small pool of possible buyers.  However, with the rise in green technology, these “tear-downs” are being reborn in new homes, instead of heading to the landfill.

In Chicago, many of the homes are from the early 1900s and feature many architectural and design appeal, perhaps even historic!  Chicago’s architecture after all is famous throughout the world.  Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van Der Rohe, Louis Sullivan and many others have influenced Chicago’s architecture and history.

While not everything in a home can be saved, deconstruction will typically save wood material, bricks and fixtures.  With the raw material salvaged, homeowners now have additional options, instead of just tearing down and building new.   Some homeowners sit down and plan a new home, utilizing as much of the salvaged material as possible.  Others donate raw materials to local organizations and realize potential tax benefits.

During Greenbuild in Chicago, I spoke with Habitat for Humanity, one of the local organizations that accepts reusable building material and resells them.  The ReBuilding Exchange in Chicago’s Lincoln Park is also another organization that accepts materials from deconstructed projects.  The ReBuilding Exchange also offers workshops which provides hands-on educational opportunities for the homeowner. A copy of their current schedule is available here.

Keep in mind that in many cases, these are materials that would have headed to the landfill.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, forty percent of the country’s solid waste material is construction and demolition debris.  Highly sought after are old-growth lumbers, which is highly valued for their density and strength, vintage hardware, stone pieces, leaded glass and mantles.

During the deconstruction and construction phase, homeowners can look for waste companies that recycle potential waste.  Many waste companies can recycle discarded materials from trash containers and will prepare a report on the percentage of materials they are able to divert from landfills.  Reusing materials also saves on the carbon footprint if new materials were needed to be produced and transported – in deconstruction projects, the entire process from deconstruction to reuse typically happen locally.

With the continual growth and demand for green tech, expect to see a rise in deconstruction projects.  If you or anyone you know is considering deconstruction project, I would love to document their project here on my blog at Realty Evolved – please email me here to discuss!

Sherwin L. Sucaldito, REALTOR®, GREEN, ABR, CRPM
The Institute of Luxury Home Marketing
Green REsource Council, GREEN
Accredited Buyer’s Representative , ABR
Certified Residential Property Manager, CRPM
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