ó Builder Jeremy Teicher bought a century-old house in Englewood,
N.J., intending to replace it with a new home. But instead of just
demolishing the old house, he had it dismantled, so the pine floors,
beadboard ceiling, solid oak doors and other features could be reused
good for the environment, and we believe itís the right thing to
do," said Teicher, a principal with the Englewood construction
company Build Within Reach.
Like Teicher, a
growing number of builders, architects and homeowners are looking for
ways to recycle building materials, even though itís generally
easier and faster to just haul everything to a landfill. The
environmental benefits are obvious, since the U.S. Green Building
Council estimates that 10 million tons of construction and demolition
debris was dumped in 2003.
But saving these
old building elements can also make economic sense, because they can
be resold, donated or reused to save the cost of buying new items.
To dismantle the
old Englewood house, Teicher hired a crew from a Baltimore non-profit,
Humanim. Interviewed at the house recently, Chris Posko, an operations
manager for Humanim, said that 80 to 85 percent of a home can
typically be saved.
value in everything," Posko said. "To be able to get over
1,000 square feet of heart pine flooring (from the Englewood house) is
beautiful." Part of Humanimís mission is to hire and train the
unemployed to do the deconstruction and build their own work record.
demolishing a typical house costs $15,000 to $20,000, while
deconstructing the same house takes more time, and might run $25,000
to $30,000. But the materials are donated, providing a charitable
deduction. That deduction covered the extra cost in the Englewood job,
building materials to Habitat for Humanity, the home-building charity,
which sells used furniture, building materials, carpets, appliances
and more in its ReStores. The ReStores have three missions: to raise
money for Habitat, provide affordable items for the community and
reduce the amount of waste dumped in landfills.
The ReStore in
Wayne, N.J., raises money for Paterson, N.J., Habitat. It contains a
wide assortment of products, including kitchen cabinets, appliances,
furniture, carpet remnants, lamps, hardware, piles of tiles ó
everything, including the kitchen sink. All are at least 50 percent
off retail price, and furniture prices are cut the longer an item
stays in the store. For example, a maple dresser thatís now $75 will
drop to $60 after 30 days, and $38 after 90 days.
come from businesses, estate sales, downsizing homeowners and people
renovating kitchens or baths, according to ReStore Director Lucia
take the cabinets and fixtures out carefully, we can reuse them,"
Fitzgerald said. Appliances are in great demand: "We canít keep
appliances in stock. They fly out of here. Same thing with
storeís only been open about a year, Fitzgerald estimates it has
kept 17 tons of stuff out of landfills. About three-quarters of the
shoppers are homeowners, many of them surprisingly affluent, according
to a poll the store did.
loves a bargain," Fitzgerald said. "We have treasure
hunters. We have dealers; they paint the furniture and sell it. Ö
Good old furniture can be refinished multiple times. Itís a sin to
have it go away. This kind of old-growth wood ó youíre not going
to see it again."
morning, Mildred Balmer of Paterson, N.J., was shopping with her three
grandchildren, looking for furniture, including a bunk bed.
The store helps
"people who are not able to buy new," she said. "I donít
think itís right to put good stuff in the Dumpster when someone can
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Demolitions, a Connecticut non-profit that has a 43,000-square-foot
store in Fairfield, also offers tax deductions in exchange for
donations of kitchen cabinets and appliances, as well as other
building materials. One recent day, the Fairfield store held
furniture, including a dining room set for $800, and a number of
kitchen cabinets and appliances, set up in room-style displays.
Complete kitchens, mostly in very good condition, were generally
priced between $2,000 and $7,000. The store also offered tubs, sinks,
faucets, bathroom vanities, ceiling fans, chandeliers, windows and
Demolitionsí founder, Steve Feldman, said it has recycled more than
2,500 kitchens since 2005. Because its profits go to fund addiction
recovery efforts, homeowners or businesses that donate kitchens can
get a charitable deduction. Green Demolitions also has a related,
for-profit arm to sell luxury kitchens, usually on consignment. The
Fairfield store is Green Demolitionsí only retail outlet, but many
of its customers buy used kitchens on the Internet.
actually have more buyers than product," Feldman said.
"Every nice kitchen that comes in goes right out the door."
Demolitions doesnít install the kitchens. Fitting a kitchen designed
for someone elseís home into a new space takes extra skill on the
part of kitchen designers and contractors, Feldman said.
everyone wants to do the retrofit; itís like fixing classic
cars," Feldman said. "Itís a niche."
materials can help developers and architects achieve LEED (Leadership
in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green
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architect William Martin said he tries to reuse materials whenever
possible when he does renovations. For example, he plans to reuse the
eight-panel interior doors ó difficult to find nowadays ó in the
extensive renovation of a Cotswold Tudor in Ridgewood, N.J. He also
tries to save and reuse exterior brick or stone when adding on to a
home, so the new section blends better with the old. And when a client
is redoing a kitchen, he suggests selling the old appliances and
cabinets, if theyíre still usable.
materials generally involves more labor costs, it also saves the cost
of buying new materials and disposing of the old, he said.
really receptive to it, especially when they realize they can get the
beauty and save some money along the way," Martin said.
of DMR Architects in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., reused wood from two old
barges half-sunk in the Hackensack River for three buildings at the
New Jersey Meadowlands Commissionís River Barge Park in Carlstadt.
was longleaf yellow pine, which you canít even get these days,"
Vierheilig said. Reusing the old wood, he said, supported the
commissionís goal of "environmental stewardship and
As for the
Englewood house, previous owner Yaffa Regosin said she was glad to see
its materials being reused, because she and her husband had put a lot
of effort into renovating the house.
pleased," said Regosin, a real estate agent with Miron Properties
in Tenafly, "because I felt like all the hard work was not going
into the garbage."