Dismantling homes gives materials a second life

Builder Jeremy Teicher bought a century-old house in Englewood 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 or recycled.

Kevin Henderson, left, and Harvey Burrell removing the floor of an Englewood home that was being replaced. The ‘deconstruction’ approach allowed the lumber to be donated to Habitat for Humanity and reused.
“It’s good for the environment, and we believe it’s 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 it’s 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.

‘Value in everything’

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.

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