Property Damage & Disaster Restoration Blog: Long Island & New York City

Building Deconstruction: Saving Long Island Landfills...One Building At A Time

Posted on Tue, Apr 13, 2010 @ 05:05 PM

 

What a beautiful weekend we just had on Long Island.  The Storms of March 2010 are behind us. Those of us in the insurance industry are slowing down a bit catching up on all our paperwork, riding the crest of the wave down to the end of its journey.  It felt like Spring for the first time for me this weekend.

On Sunday, I drove out to Sag Harbor, New York out on the East End of Long Island in the area most notably known as The Hamptons.  I went to inspect a home that was at the end of its use.  The new owners purchased the house, basically for the land, and plan to build a new one in its place.

But what do you do with the old house?  Just because the home is at the end of its life cycle, does not mean the building materials that make up the house are at the end of their usage. But since the advent of "mass production" the acceptable way to get rid of the old homes on Long Island (and the rest of the country) was to knock it down or "demo" with a bulldozer and dump all the construction and demolition (C&D) waste in the landfills. But there are other "greener" more cost-effective practices that can benefit the homeowner, the environment, and the Long Island community.

I inspected the house with a representative of The Reuse People (TRP). TRP is a Non-Profit Organization based in California with branches all over the United States. TRP keeps reusable and recyclable building materials out of overburdened landfills by promoting building deconstruction and channeling the building material back into the marketplace through donations and sales at its network of retail outlets. TRP works closely with local building deconstruction contractors to try and salvage up to 80 percent of the building materials (varies depending upon age and type of materials) during the building deconstruction process. These services are among the first steps in the green building process.

The house is a roughly 2,000SF ranch with an unfinished basement, attic, and small detached garage built in 1981. The previous owner had used it as a rental property and the house was not in the best of condition. The kitchen cabinets and wood floors were not salvageable due to water damage and type of materials. The wood floors today come in short pieces and are less valuable than longer older pieces. They are also very hard to piece back together. The single-pane wood windows and hallow core doors did not have much value either. Also the brick fireplace was relatively new and made with much stronger mortar than older masonry work. Because the mortar is much stronger, it is hard to clean the brick and reuse the material in a future construction project(s).

Building deconstruction is more labor intensive due to the care our deconstruction technicians must use when deconstructing the reusable building materials to save their value. We take the ultimate care in deconstructing, handling and packing the reusable building materials because too much breakage can disrupt the whole economics of the project and have one unhappy building owner or homeowner. A 2,000SF house takes five deconstruction technicians four weeks to deconstruct.

The representative of The Reuse People estimated the total value of usable building materials at roughly $20,000. That means the homeowner would get a tax deductible donation (percentage would depend on building owner or homeowner's income tax bracket) when he or she donated the reusable building materials to The Reuse People for distribution and resale in their network.

Below is a comparison of the cost of both Building Deconstruction vs. Demolition for this particular project in Sag Harbor, Long Island.

Process:

Deconstruction

Demolition

Cost:

$25,000

$15,000

Donations:

$20,000

 

Tax Deduction:

$5,000

 

Total Cost:

$20,000

$15,000

For this house, it is more cost effective to demolish the house than it is to perform any soft stripping or building deconstruction because there is very little value in the minimal reusable building materials we could have salvage from the home. In today's economy, like most of the Long Island green building industry, cost is still the driving factor over "the right thing to do".

Below is a list of building deconstruction projects that The Reuse People have worked on and the total dollar value of reusable building materials salvaged from each project.

City

Square Feet

Donation Value

Newport Beach, CA

5,523

$182,346

Napa, CA

3,342

$102,025

Oakland, CA

1,400

$74,144

Santa Barbara, CA

2,100

$57,000

Denver, CO

2,900

$125,566

Chicago, IL

2,200

$110,096

Chicago, IL

$2,800

$118,150

Bellevue, WA

3,800

$175,600

Kenosha, WI

2,250

$98,000

The list of soft stripping and building deconstruction project above that have overseen by The Reuse People throughout the United States prove that building deconstruction on Long Island can be a cost effective green building alternative to demolition if there is value in the reusable building materials.

It is Advanced Restoration Corporation's earnest desire to make the Long Island Community a Leader in Building Deconstruction and Building Material Reuse in New York and throughout the country. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding our Soft Stripping or Building Deconstruction Services on Long Island.

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