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The selective dismantlement of building components, specifically for re-use, recycling, and waste management.

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Recycle and Reuse Salvaged Building Materials

  • May 4, 2010
  • by

an old barn with future possiblities

Last year I helped a friend take down an old barn similar to the one in the photo on the right. His goal while taking the barn down was to salvage, reuse and recycle as much of the building materials as possible. His plan was to recycle the metal from the roof and to reuse some of  the wood. He would take the metal to a local recycling center and receive money.  He would then take the wood we salvaged and use it in a new building project. The two best things were that this would be eco-friendly as well as save him a lot of money.  You just can't beat being Green and saving Green at the same time.

The work was a little hard, but the process was pretty simple. As we took down parts of the barn we put the materials in three separate categories: metal, reusable wood and one for the dumpster. We saved all of the metal because our local recycling center even takes rusted metal. The reusable wood were those that hadn't split, had no dry-rot and had no termite damage. What was left for the dumpster (which was furnished by the owners of the property) was totally unusable wood and trash that was inside the barn.

After the dust had settled, literally, we felt it was worth the sweat and scratches. He made over $100 from the local recycling center for the metal. He also now has enough good wood to build a rustic-looking gazebo. Due to our recycling and reusing, we only had to throw away a fraction of the waste. The rustic-look is a trend these days and if you want "used" building materials you can start by asking around. That's what my friend did and quickly he found someone who was anxious to get an eyesore removed from their property.

There were two trees that were growing up against the old barn and we made it a point to not damage or have to take down the two trees. It was touch-and-go at times on the "Save the Trees" campaign and fortunately we succeeded and they are both still standing.

If you take on a project like this, think about the possibilities of the materials, clean up after yourself and try not to disturb anything and keep everything else as you first found it. In our example, all is left is a dirt patch and two trees. Through hard work maybe you can make a little money and help the environment at the same time.  Deconstruction is great for the environment and you can do your own deconstruction if you plan ahead.

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May 04, 2010
What a neat project. I hope you took before and after pictures -- I'd love to see the barn vs the gazebo! What a cool way to go out with the old and in with the new -- while still keeping some of the old :)
May 10, 2010
If I thought about it I would have taken before and after photos. The barn was an eyesore, so the property did look a whole lot better after our demolition and extraction.
More Deconstruction reviews
Quick Tip by . May 11, 2010
Look for asphalt shingle recyclers in your area Roofs to roads is hopeful repurposing of a typical landfill product
About the reviewer
Clay Miller ()
Ranked #51
Graphic designer/illustrator and owner of Miller Creative Designs, LLC who on Lunch.com likes to shareinsight on Greenand health insight, ideas and other tidbits.Creator/writer of Ways2GoGreen .com& … more
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In the context of physical construction, deconstruction is the selective dismantlement of building components, specifically for re-use, recycling, and waste management.  It differs from demolition where a site is cleared of its building by the most expedient means. Deconstruction has also been defined as “construction in reverse”. The process of dismantling structures is an ancient activity that has been revived by the growing field of sustainable, green building. Buildings, like everything, have a life-cycle. Deconstruction focuses on giving the materials within a building a new life once the building as a whole can no longer continue.

When buildings reach the end of their useful life, they are typically demolished and hauled to landfills.  Building implosions or ‘wrecking-ball’ style demolitions are relatively inexpensive and offer a quick method of clearing sites for new structures. On the other hand, these methods create substantial amounts of waste. Components within old buildings may still be valuable, sometimes more valuable than at the time the building was constructed. Deconstruction is a method of harvesting what is commonly considered "waste" and reclaiming it into useful building material.

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