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House deconstuction process

Deconstructing an average 2000 sq ft house will salvage enough reusable lumber to substitute 33 mature trees or the yearly output of 10 acres of pine. In this particular house we have already saved several truckloads of framing lumber and we aren't even at the first floor yet, in addition to appliances, fixtures, doors, hundreds of square feet of oak flooring, and more. This doesn't include social benefits of the 500+ hours of employment which will have gone into taking down this house when it is all said and done.

Deconstruction Compared to Demolition

How do we save at least six acres of forest from a house that is to be torn down? We deconstruct it, taking the house apart bit by bit and taking everything that is reusable and putting it back into the world to be consumed again.

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In other parts of the country we see what is being labeled as "deconstruction" (where most of the house is bulldozed, put into recycling dumpsters, the wood is chipped into mulch, etc). There is reasoning behind the order of the old adage Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Through the form of deconstruction we are doing at Community Building & Restoration, we are maximizing reduction/reuse. By reusing materials we are reducing the number of brand new materials people need trucked in from across the country, we are reducing the number of acres needing to be devoted to deforestation, we are reducing energy consumption, and on and on. Recycling is last, and least effective and important (still better than landfilling, of course).

Comparing deconstruction vs demolition/recycling area, particularly as far as embodied energy of the materials and labor are very different projects. For example our local Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District is doing some demolition with recyling. In that typically 85% is recycled, 10% salvage, is not really deconstruction. That means that say hardwood flooring would be chipped into wood chips. Or the same with dried, aged framing lumber. The embodied energy of materials like oak flooring is exceptionally high, or even framing lumber, so to wood chip them, even though perhaps technically considered "recycling" is quite wasteful. In addition, you don't need too many workers to hit that 10% mark.

More on Deconstruction:

Community Building & Restoration / 414-963-1901 / P.O. Box 11537 / Shorewood, WI 53211 / /