“You can save transportation costs all up and down the manufacturing line,” says Paul Hughes, president of DeConstruction Services LLC, a Fairfax, Va., company that specializes in disassembling existing homes. Mr. Hughes also is founder and executive director of the ReBuild Warehouse, where many of the results of his deconstruction projects end up.
DeConstruction Services and other deconstruction companies take down a house in a process that starts with the fixtures, trim and baseboards and ends up leaving just the foundation and a cement slab. Just about everything except the drywall and plaster can be recycled or reused.
“You can recycle roof shingles and use them for road patch,” Mr. Hughes says. “We’ll denail the wood so it could be used again. Even metal ductwork is recyclable.”
Once those materials are donated to a warehouse, the ensuing tax deduction can help offset the costs of deconstruction. Even without the tax deduction, many homeowners opt for deconstruction because they feel that helping save the environment is worth the cost.
Often, older materials are of better quality - and more distinctive - than their newer counterparts.
At the Brass Knob in the District’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, owner Donetta George has been reclaiming old materials for 30 years.
“I’m looking for anything that has good design,” Ms. George says. “That can be sometimes funky, sometimes interesting, sometimes beautiful.”
At the town house crammed with recovered materials - these days mostly acquired from other dealers - savvy shoppers can acquire everything from stained glass to chandeliers to a variety of decorative pieces. Regardless of what they’re seeking or what they find, Brass Knob patrons are united by one thing, Ms. George says.
“It takes a particular kind of person to look at a specific item and think about how to work it into the decor,” she says. “Not everyone can do that.”
Though that aesthetic sense has not changed all that much since Ms. George opened her store, her clientele has. It definitely is getting younger, in keeping with both her changing neighborhood and a new focus on older things.
“A lot of younger people are thinking now about quality,” she says. “Twenty years ago all they cared about was clean, modern design.”
For those who are not all that interested in the past, reclaimed materials can hold another value - lower cost.
At Community Forklift, potential buyers can browse aisles of furniture, appliances, fixtures and yes, building materials ready for reclamation or repurposing.
“We’re kind of like a thrift store, except that we have home improvement supplies,” Ms. Mundell says. “Anything you might find at Home Depot, we’re likely to have. It’s a really nice way of reducing the cost of a project.”
Need a window or two? You’ll find them here, some even in their original packaging. (Apparently, there are a lot of people out there who just can’t measure properly.) The warehouse once had an entire log cabin - in pieces - that was reassembled somewhere in Western Maryland.View Entire Story
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