Deconstructing a Home

When erecting a brand-new home, a growing number of environmentally conscious homeowners and builders are opting to ‘deconstruct’ the old one and donate the parts rather than demolish it. Called deconstruction, it entails taking a house apart, piece by piece, down to the foundation. The majority of what’s removed from a house via deconstruction can be recycled or reused.

The Benefits of Deconstruction

In addition to simply “being the right thing to do,” Compass Homes’ Development Manager, Ted Nemeth notes three important benefits to deconstruction:

  • A second life for materials, keeping them out of the landfill.
  • Donation to nonprofit organizations
  • Substantial tax benefits for the donor/homeowner in the form of a charitable donation.

While there is an added cost and time for deconstruction, an increasing number of homeowners are “at the very least, wanting to have the conversation” about the process as awareness grows. For those homeowners who pursue deconstruction, Compass Homes partners with Recyclean, Inc, which is a subcontractor specializing in the process.  

How Does it Work?

Initially, a deconstruction appraiser will determine what materials can be salvaged and estimates the value of the donations. The deconstruction crew then comes in and takes the property apart, piece by piece over a period of a couple of weeks. While not everything can be salvaged, the majority of materials can be and are taken to be inventoried and given as a donation to a charitable organization. 

What Typically Can Be Salvaged? 

The only things that cannot yet be salvaged or repurposed are drywall, rotted materials, and broken pieces of ceramic tile or marble. Items that can be salvaged include:

  • Hardwood flooring
  • Carpeting
  • Interior lumber
  • Beams
  • Cabinets
  • Appliances
  • Molding and trim
  • Doors
  • Switch plates
  • Light fixtures
  • Ceiling fans
  • Mantels
  • Bathroom vanities
  • Toilets
  • Mirrors
  • Tubs
  • Shower surrounds
  • Granite & laminate countertops
  • Sinks
  • Windows
  • Vent covers
  • Shelving
  • Insulation
  • Heat pumps
  • Hot-water heaters
  • Air-conditioning units
  • Washers and dryers
  • Screens
  • Siding
  • Slate roofing and sub-roofing
  • flagstone, bricks, and decking
  • Dimensional lumber such as wall studs, floor joists and roof framing often have significant demand as repurposed material

When Deconstruction Makes Sense

Beyond the environmental benefits of deconstruction, there’s a significant financial benefit to the homeowner. The average charitable deduction for Compass Homes homeowners undertaking deconstruction is between $100,000 and $150,000. Ultimately, it depends on the end homeowner (the Buyer), to determine if the time and cost to deconstruct makes financial and environmental sense. 

At Compass Homes, we try to offer deconstruction as often as possible in order to divert materials into reuse. Even if a full deconstruction is not undertaken, the normal demolition process still maximizes the parts of the house that can be salvaged, reused, or donated to an organization or individual in need. 

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