Deconstruction of Residential Real Estate

Deconstruction of Residential Real Estate

Posted on 06. Dec, 2010 by in Greener Properties

I hadn’t seen the term “deconstruction” repeated so many times since graduate school. And in a city press release, no less. But I do live in a literary city where a few years ago, the mayor’s administration launched a sidewalk poetry program. Writers submit short poems for consideration by a panel of judges; winners get their work permanently stamped into sidewalks around town.

This deconstruction, however, had to do with dismantling properties. “Deconstruction,” reads the press release, “is the green approach to breaking down old buildings.”

Long-time readers know that I’m a fan of perusing re-use stores. I still remember the first one I strolled through—Architectural Salvage in San Diego. Not since meandering down the narrow alleyways of the flea markets in Paris had I seen so many artfully constructed collections of tiles, doors and doorknobs. I was instantly hooked and began to see possibilities in every patinaed hinge.

Eco-brokers can tell you that existing buildings are the greenest ones around because the resources and materials to create the building have already been expended. Tearing down a building requires new resources, as does creating a new building on the same spot.

The term, however, whet my curiosity. According to the release, “[d]econstruction, as opposed to traditional demolition, involves the careful dismantling of residential and commercial buildings with the goal of recycling or preserving reusable materials, typically resulting in a waste diversion rate considerably higher than the typical 70 percent.”

So while deconstruction’s end game is, in fact, tearing down a building, it is much more mindful of what is done with the materials harvested from the property. Some items are reused, while other items are recycled.

I’ve recently seen photographs documenting the demolition of a run-down century-old property. It’s violent and sad, especially when vintage artifacts—still very much useful—can be seen beneath piles of lath and plaster, siding and broken chimney bricks. Doors are not difficult to remove. Neither are lighting fixtures. Even cabinets can have a new life somewhere else and are well worth the effort to—let me try it out—deconstruct.

If deconstruction is a new trend in the world of real estate development, you can expect re-use centers to be brimming with stock and plenty of opportunities for you to find just what you need at a very green price. I imagine that tracking and searching inventory will eventually become more sophisticated and easier to navigate as the demand for deconstruction increases.

Perhaps one day we won’t need two terms to describe two radically different types of tearing down a building. Reusing what’s still useful and recycling what we can will simply be the way we do business.

Tags: , , ,