Deconstruction Grows in Popularity, Spawns New Businesses

In her Teardown Diary, Wall Street Journal columnist Nancy Keates forgoes the common practice of demolition and instead opts for "unbuilding."  Usually referred to as deconstruction, unbuilding is when you disassemble an old structure piece by piece and salvage the usable parts.  Ms. Keates found that the deconstruction of her home will cost about $4,000 more than straight demolition, but costs can vary project to project.

Ms. Keates references the tax consequences associated with her deconstruction.  You can donate the salvagable parts and take an income tax deduction, or if available, let the local fire department burn down the house as practice and take a deduction on the whole value of the house (probably not the greenest thing you could do!).

The Teardown Diary also includes some stats with respect to deconstruction. 

An interesting side effect of deconstruction is the proliferation of rebuilding centers in the U.S.  As of 2006, according to the Building Materials Reuse Association, there were 1,200 rebuilding centers making an average of $340,000 per year.  Half of these rebuilding centers didn’t exist five years ago and revenues are up 45% from three years earlier.

Recall also the launch of Planet Reuse, the online resource designed to facilitate the buying and selling of reusable materials that qualify for LEED MR credits.  Entire business models are being created to reuse what we already have. 

Thus, my indicators point to a growing interest in reusing what we have, as opposed to throwing it all into a land fill.  It goes back to the Cradle to Cradle concept that waste equals food.  Some people say one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure.  I guess that’s one way to put it, but the idea is: reuse what you can and you’ll probably make some money by doing it. 


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  • http://Robertdress.blogspot.com Robertdress

    This is a powerful statement. Go Nancy!!!

  • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

    @robert – I agree, but I will say, that house she’s deconstructing doesn’t seem to look that bad.

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