NOTE: Thanks to all the attendees of our first Sledge charity auction; Requiem: the work of Jim Barger. We beat our goals!
We will be contacting the winners this week with all the details.
It was great to see everyone and to share this amazing work! Thank you for stopping by and supporting the Engedi Refuge. Also, we hope we shared with you all the many potential uses for the old-growth reclaimed material we salvaged from the 1520 Beacon Hill home; from the custom made guardrails, window sills, & interior wall cladding, to the furniture & art.
Old homes are not trash, they are goldmines, if we only choose to value them!
(61 5/8" by 36 1/4")
(34" by 44")
(29 1/4" by 26 1/2")
(46 1/4" by 37 1/2")
(47" by 13")
(32 3/4" by 28 3/4")
(79" by 34 1/8" & 29 3/4" High)
Black Tie Affair
(15 5/8" by 61 1/2")
(47 3/4" by 19" & 14 1/2" High)
(33" by 17" & 15" High)
Thing 1 and Thing 2
(14 1/2" by 33 1/2" & 13" by 33 3/4")
(27 3/4" by 48 3/4")
(both: 19 1/4" by 4 1/4")
(50" by 21" & 15 1/2" High)
Powder Room Accent Wall
Decorative Ceiling & Light Fixture
Kitchen Island Surround
Credits: Photos of Jim Barger's artwork, furniture, architectural finishes, & graphics by Leo Lam & his support team. This blog, and all the other photos, by John Benavente.
We finally updated and finished the deconstruction part of our blog! I put the posts in chronological order from start to finish.
Stay tuned for part two where we will see how and where these beautiful materials live on.
Welcome to this blog documenting our first deconstruction project. Our goal is to identify, salvage, and reuse as much of a house as possible. And to salvage materials and divert them from landfill. We want to repurpose these materials and provide new uses.
How much of a house can be salvaged? How many source materials are useable in new applications? Is there a market for these materials? Residential building construction accounts for 30% or more of landfill material in Washington State. There is an incredible amount of useable, high quality material which is often wasted when a home is simply demolished and sent to landfill. At the same cost of traditional demolition and a few weeks time, deconstruction results in almost 100% of valuable materials which can be salvaged for reuse or recycled.
Deconstruction reduces the environmental impacts by reducing transportation and air pollution as well as the need for new materials.
Reuse also extends the embodied energy of the material. It continues a story. From that tree or silicon, to the extraction and sawmill, to the manufacturing, shipping, and installation, these materials are very valuable and do not need to be thrown away.
Houses, in this scenario, never die.
How do we deconstruct, store, and repurpose the material? Some of our goals include our desire to limit transportation of materials. So we are going to store and repurpose the materials on site.
So we rented a 20' container. We have plenty of room on the site, so now we can set up a work shop and storage area. In our container we can start identifying the materials, figuring out the amounts, and preparing it for packaging and moving.
Our goal is to have all the materials moved in the container to the next job site where we will reuse the materials.
Along the way we come up with other uses. For example, the amazing cedar shingles can be used as kindling. As we carefully remove it, we realize we can also pack it up and sell it as salvaged siding.
This house was built in 1908 and is located at the top of Beacon Hill with amazing Views. All the interior finishes were removed so we were able to see the quality of the materials.
Some of the windows were original and we gave them to a friend who collects old windows. The front door hardware is beautifully ornate so we thought that might make great coat hooks. Other than that, there isn't much inside left. So we can focus on the shell, sheathing, and exterior finishes.
First Step is to start removing the roof assembly. The roof sheathing (1x6 planks) made a mountain of material. Then the rafters. Finally, the exterior & interior walls.
The way we demolish homes doesn't make sense. It creates a huge, tangled mess. From what was a carefully constructed collection of assemblies and layers of materials, is left a pile of shrapnel. Demolition is a bomb.
The images below show how in demolition, you go from a house to a pile of shrapnel. Also shown are the only tools needed. This takes about 1/2 an hour.
In deconstruction, the assemblies are taken apart. The layers are peeled off. Then the materials are reorganized. This not only allows for better organization, it also allows for the separation of all the materials. In demolition, wood is mingled with metal, plaster, plastic, everything. The nature of dismantling allows for real time material separation.
Deconstruction is the physical reconstitution of a house. It's an altering of its existence, not an end. Who knows where all of these pieces of material will end up.
The house is decomposing.
Most homes use regular joists and rafters, newer homes may have TJI's, trusses, or other kinds of composite products.
On top of the joists are tongue and groove decking used as a subfloor (now we use plywood) and then the wood floor on top. In old homes we usually find linoleum or some other floor finish on top of the original wood.
On the ceiling below, decking is found, another bountiful source of wood. Now we would simply put drywall.
Walls consist of studs, plaster and lathe, in this case (which was removed prior to the deconstruction), and on the outside are these beautiful 1x6 diagonal planks. Now we use drywall on the inside and plywood, or OSB, on the outside.
For exterior siding, we have three layers. The original cedar shakes, another kind of cedar shake, and then wooden horizontal siding.
In old homes we used solid wood to construct all the structural and finish items, inside we used plaster laid over small strips of wood.
Of course, it takes an assembly of people to do all of the work.
The construction of 1 average single family home will employ 25 or more labor positions at different times for up to a year. Plus, there are accountants, bookkeepers, banking employees, consultants, and city of Seattle land use planners and inspectors, all playing a role.
No matter how nice or expensive your materials are, only with good, talented people who care, will a home be built, or unbuilt, well.
We knew this material was of high quality, suggesting old growth trees, and we wondered where the wood came from. Having found stamped members, and after some research at the King County Archives, Seattle DCI, and the Seattle Public Library, we feel pretty confident that this wood came from a stand of trees in the area of present day Tukwila, specifically South Center Mall.
This may be the mill, not sure. But stay tuned for more history about this home!
Once the roof was done, we started the second floor. Notice the balloon framing. Some of these studs are 28' or longer.
Second Floor is almost gone.
Sun came out!
Now we use 4'x8' plywood for exterior wall sheathing. I love this 1x6 decking they used to use for sheathing. It will make great exterior or interior wall cladding.
Looking up at the first floor ceiling. Even the blocking in the joists can be salvaged. Look how tall the studs are!
First Floor joists.
Here you can see the first floor beams and joists.
Looking up at the first floor joists from the basement. All the brick will go to a recycling center. Brick is very difficult to salvage, but I have seen great projects using it as walkways and flower boxes.
The first floor joists are beautiful. Now we know that the trees were in Tukwila, we can imagine the beauty and size of these trees.
Here is a view of the rim joists at the ends of the floor joists. A very valuable, and fun, tool is leaning to the left.
Jim is there to the right, removing the first floor joists. This image is also a reminder of how much non salvageable material there is, like insulation, pipes, and brick.
Once the studs were removed, the floor joists were denailed and removed like dominoes.
The floor joists are a really valuable material. We made sure to cut them at lengths that would make them useable in a variety of situations (decorative floor joists, beams, etc).
This is how the pile began. The first few roof members.
Then the piles steadily grew. This is the roof.
And for each member, there are tons of nails. Here, at our nail removal station, Brandon is removing nails with a nail gun remover. Towards the end, we had three people at three nail removal stations.
This is the roof, and the second floor.
Here is the south wing of the piles; once we hit the first floor the piles began growing very quickly and spreading. At times, the walkways between them were canyons.
The mighty nail. We had to buy a magnetic nail collector, and are hoping to do something creative with all the nails we collected.
Our goal was to do all the work on site, then move it to another site where we would use it.
We got a 20' container thinking that would be enough storage; it wasn't.
Long term goals are to limit the transportation required to salvage the material. And to do as much work on site, in a process we call "livemilling."
We also want to involve the neighborhood. Encourage people to ask what we are doing, how, and why. And make material available for them, too.
Left is just the roof. The image to the right is it full and moved to the other job site. It was also heavy.
It took a long time to research this home. It was a lot more difficult than we thought. It also turns out that people moved a lot. I thought a family would have lived in this house for generations, instead I discovered the original owners may not have lived there more than 3-5 years.
With the help of the City of Seattle Microfilm Library, King County Archives, Puget Sound Archives, & the Seattle Public Library, we were able to piece together a history. Below is the earliest picture we could find.
It turns out the house was actually built in 1893 (not 1908 like the King County Assessor's Office stated). It was one of the first few houses in Beacon Hill. It was built before the road was graded. At this point, in 1890, Beacon Hill was a suburb to Seattle. The population was about 43,000; by 1900 it was 80,000; in 1910, 210,000.
By comparing Sanford Fire Insurance Maps and Baist's Real Estate Atlas of Surveys; we discovered that it was older than we thought.
Also, there was a financial panic in 1893, which may explain why there were a few homes like this built in this area of Beacon Hill, and then there was a pause until the early 1900's.
In the Permit history below, you can see that it was converted into a triplex in 1957. Which was it's final use in 2016.
We found out the builder, where the trees may have come from, but it wasn't until we went to the Puget Sound Archives and looked at the Tax Assessment Rolls that we were able to find a name: David Bruce, superintendent of the Union Trunk Line.
I wasn't able to verify for certain that this is the same David Bruce, but he had several mentions in the Seattle Times. We were able to verify that the David Bruce mentioned here, is the same David Bruce mentioned in other articles in later years, and may be the son of a congress person from Massachusetts.
It has been a long and wonderful experience. In the end, we managed to salvage around 11,000 BF of high grade, old growth material, at about the same cost as a 1 day demolition.
We experienced first hand how many people you need and how long it takes to deconstruct a house this size.
There is no end to the use of the materials this home produced. Portland is beginning to require deconstruction for homes this year, I hope Seattle will do the same. It is wasteful and environmentally damaging to not reuse the materials of old homes. While it is a reality that we need more density and different kinds of spaces, there is no reason to not deconstruct and reuse these valuable materials. Much of this material no longer exists. We need to recognize the true value of these materials.
Deconstructing this home was more than a financial exercise. It was at times a logistical puzzle and a mystery. Our great disconnect with nature and the world around us can be minimized by taking the time to pause and consider what we are doing. And ask, is this the best way?
Deconstruction is a better way to deal with the dynamic dwelling patterns of a growing city. Not only is it better for air quality and urban runoff, it results in high quality material, some of which, as in this case, no longer readily exists.
It can also act as a community building exercise. Letting your neighbors know you value the home, enough to take it apart and reuse it, defuses some of the anti development attitudes many of us share.
In the end, homes are not just commodities. They are where our lives take place. And the more meaning we are able to add to them, the better.
Thanks for checking out our blog!