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.
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