Friday, March 6, 2015

Deconstruction vs. Demolition

We're all familiar with the home improvement TV programs that show homeowners taking a sledgehammer to their kitchen cabinets or filling dumpsters to the top with old lighting, windows and flooring. While it may be cathartic for the person smashing and kicking through their unwanted wall, it does little for the environment or the building industry.

Materials are removed carefully, keeping them intact for reuse.
Deconstruction is a viable alternative to demolition. Maybe you are just replacing your kitchen cabinets and can drop the old ones off at Habitat for Humanity's ReStore. Perhaps you are scraping an existing structure to build new and call a deconstruction specialist from the Center for ReSource Conservation. Regardless of the project size, there are ways to reduce waste and lengthen the useful life of your materials. Selective deconstruction, or "soft strip" consists of removing easy, high-value materials such as lighting fixtures or solid-wood doors. Whole-house deconstruction goes further, removing materials such as framing lumber, flooring or bricks. Crews are hired to carefully take apart buildings and divert the materials to salvage yards, which can find them new life.

Initially, it may seem cost-prohibitive; deconstruction can cost about twice as much as demolition. However, the tax deductions you can get for donating your salvaged materials can offset the cost of the work to remove them, and in some situations even make you money. Keep in mind the other benefits of this approach - less trash and more availability of affordable building materials.

For a very large project deconstruction will take longer, but with a little extra planning it can definitely be worth it. You will want to coordinate with the organization that you plan to send your donation as they will need to prepare a materials list. You'll also need to hire an appraiser who is familiar with the IRS rules regarding this kind of a donation and the forms required to make it work. There are many resources available to make this part of the project smooth and beneficial. If you'd like a name, give me a call and I'll point you in the right direction to get started.

image: thekirbster

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