Deconstruction Part Two

IMG_5735 Hawthorn Builders is proud to announce that we are finishing up our second deconstruction project in Needham.  A custom client, who purchased a home on Livingston circle, was interested in the deconstruction process and very eager to learn more about how this could work for their situation.  As mentioned in a prior blog, Deconstruction is the selective dismantlement of building components, specifically for re-use, recycling, and waste management.  When you deconstruct instead of demolish, you help to recycle or reuse 70%-90% of materials that are normally dumped into our overflowing landfills.  After some additional research, our client decided on a company based out of Western Massachusetts, Piece by Piece Construction.

Owner Dave Giese brought a crew in to perform a “soft strip” of materials inside the home.  This included removing cabinetry, lighting, vanities, appliances, interior doors, hardware and any additional fixtures that did not impact the actual structure of the home.  These items are then sold at a Restore, a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center that sells new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price.  In most cases, proceeds are used to build homes, community, and hope locally and around the world. Turns out that the cabinets taken during the soft strip were only eight years old and only lasted 24 hours in the store before someone snatched them up!

Once Hawthorn Builders received the demolition permit from the town, Piece By Piece was able to begin their full deconstruction process.  Looking at the pictures is amazing; with a crew of 3-5 people, they were able to remove siding, strapping, wood flooring and lumber.  The lumber itself is estimated to fill two dumpsters and the salvageable oak flooring came in at an estimated 1,500 sq. feet.  Not everything is worth taking for resale though.  Bricks for instance are an item that need to fall into a certain time category, windows have to be relatively recent, and any framing materials that show signs of pests are left behind.

There are a few reasons why the deconstruction process is beneficial to both homeowner and builder.  Dave was kind enough to send us additional information on the break-down of benefits:

Full Deconstruction –  I disassemble the house leaving just the foundation and any brick or stone components in place. I remove all reusable building materials and waste from the site. In some cases I have deconstructed a residence leaving the first floor deck and foundation in place, ready for a rebuild. You can ballpark the length of a whole house deconstruction at 400 sq. ft./week. The value of the materials will vary greatly but is usually between $30,000-$100,000.

The best candidates for whole house deconstruction are those built with dimensioned lumber – between 1940 and 1980. Older houses pre-1850 may also be worth deconstructing if they contain valuable woods. The ReStores will accept rough lumber but it sells much more slowly.

Soft Strip – I remove all reusable finishes and fixtures but leave the house and foundation fortraditional demolition. This option is best when there is not time for full deconstruction or

when the framing of the house is not worth the extra cost. The value of the materials will varygreatly but is usually between $15,000-$50,000.

I don’t sell or keep any of the materials myself. My goal is to attain the highest possible return on investment for the homeowner. Most of my clients donate the materials to a ReStore but some do choose to sell the building components directly or reuse them when building the new house.  I put together an inventory package consisting of the receipts from the non-profit ReStore and the photos that I take as the project is completed.

In both cases the client will want to hire an appraiser who specializes in used building materials.

I have a list of appraisers that I work with. The cost of the appraisal will be between $1000-4000 depending on the scope of the project and size of the house.

Hawthorn Builders is happy to work with our customers on deciding if deconstruction is the right option for them.  The home must be owned by the customer in order to receive the most out of the tax deduction.  Not only does the homeowner benefit from this process, but deconstruction limits waste in landfills and allows other structures to benefit from the salvaged materials.  Check out the gallery for some great progress pictures!