Deconstruction

This is the house at 9805 - 84th Avenue. Sometime in June, it will be demolished by a backhoe to make way for a home that needs 95% less energy, and produces all of it from the sun: the Mill Creek NetZero Home (MCNZH). I'm going to deconstruct the house as much as possible before its demise in order to minimize the environmental impact of it reaching the end of its useful life.

The building of this house, circa. 1916, took a great deal of energy and resources. It's primarily built with Douglas fir wood. Back then, we were liquidating the ancient forests of British Columbia to provide cheap construction materials for the rest of Canada. It was cheaper to get lumber from BC than from Alberta, even given the higher transportations costs of the time.

The house contains hardwood floors, copper piping and wiring, doors, a claw foot bathtub, aluminum frame windows, some stoves and fridges, and assorted fixtures, all of which can be reclaimed by a conscientious deconstructor. Some of the hardwood floors and fixtures will make their way into the MCNZH. The rest of the recoverable goods will be given away and recycled as much as possible.

We usually just tear down a house like this and send the waste to landfill. I'll pick it over as much as I can before that, but really we need to start treating these old houses as the valuable assets that they can be. It's a tough sell in this boom-time economy. After all, the main ingredient to deconstructing a house like this is human labour, an asset that is hard to come by in the summer of 2008, in Edmonton, Alberta.

Resources:

  • The city of Edmonton will accept some construction waste at its EcoStations. Details here on raisingspaces.com.
  • The Architectural Clearinghouse will come and strip the house of stuff like doors and the claw foot bathtub.
  • Raisingspaces.com has some great resources here - scroll down to "Reclaimed Materials Sources".

(cross posted at www.raisingspaces.com)

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