Reduce, Reuse, Deconstruct?
By, Tricia Amato (Lewis)
Living in an old house often means remodeling projects, whether replacing a worn-out historic element or putting in a whole new kitchen. Most people don’t even think about what happens to the materials that are removed from the home to make room for the new stuff, but it goes directly into our already over-burdened landfills. According to the EPA, in 2018 (the most recent year for which data is available), 600 million tons of construction waste was generated in the US — more than twice the amount of household waste generated the same year. So what can be done about all this waste? The City of Phoenix and Historic Preservation suggests you to consider something called “deconstruction.”
What is Deconstruction?
Deconstruction is the process of removing reusable building materials and making them available to the public for other projects. A skilled team comes to your home and dismantles the building components you don’t want, such as kitchen cabinets, light fixtures, countertops, etc., and resells them. This process has many benefits beyond just reducing the flow of building materials into the landfill. Deconstruction —
- Offsets the environmental impact of extracting raw materials
- Creates jobs
- Benefits local non-profits
- Saves homeowners money on disposal costs
- Preserves historic elements for reuse
- Donations of materials may be tax-deductible
- Individuals can purchase gently used materials for a much lower price
When in the planning stages of your next project, consider contacting one of the deconstruction organizations listed here to discuss what can be removed from your home. Most organizations either do not charge for their services or only charge a nominal fee because they make money on the sale of the used materials. Deconstruction does add a few days to the project timeline, but when it’s built into the schedule, it won’t cause a significant delay.
An additional benefit to you is that you can purchase deconstructed materials and upcycle them into your own project. Used and vintage doors, windows, light fixtures, sinks, bathtubs, flooring, and building stock, as well as the occasional Wolf range or Sub-Zero fridge, can be found at recycling centers and building surplus stores for a fraction of the cost of new. You never know what interesting items you may find. In fact, the decorative metal in our wall along 3rd Avenue is from a salvage yard. Before you start your next project, get creative and consider deconstruction!
Tricia is a City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Commissioner. Visit phoenix.gov/pdd/historic-preservation for information regarding historic guidelines and approvals. Tricia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A DECONSTRUCTION RESOURCE GUIDE
Phoenix Deconstruction Companies
This is a partial list of the deconstruction companies in metro Phoenix.
Habitat for Humanity of Central Arizona
623-551-6000, option 8
Stardust Building Supplies
Reclaimed Building Materials
The Habitat for Humanity ReStore
115 E. Watkins St. (at Central)
Stardust Building Supplies
5150 W. Northern Ave.
1720 W. Broadway Rd.
3322 E. Washington
Building Materials Outlet
(aka The Handyman’s Candy Store)
2902 E. Elwood St.
The Art of Rust
2729 E. Indian School Rd.
Porter Barn Wood
901 S. 7th St.
Gersons Building Materials (Tucson)
4726 S. Country Club Rd.
Tricia is a City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Commissioner. Visit phoenix.gov/pdd/historic-preservation for information regarding guidelines and approvals. If you have a topic or question you would like Tricia to write about, email her at email@example.com.