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Would you take your old house apart instead of having it demolished?

Original post made by David Boyce, Almanac staff writer, on Feb 8, 2007

The cover story in the Feb. 7 issue of the Almanac describes efforts by Portola Valley's town government to reuse wood and concrete already on the site of the old town center as they build a new complex.

Mayor Ted Driscoll said that he wants to set an example, to both residents and other town governments, on the value of closing the circle on construction materials and reusing them on site as much as possible.

Would you consider following the town's example and recapture the wood and concrete at your place when when you remodel or rebuild?

How far would you take your concern about the environment? How important is the size of your carbon footprint? Are you game to sacrificing a few extra weeks in a construction schedule and earning a tax deduction that might cover your costs by donating the wood to a nonprofit salvage company?

Comments (3)

Like this comment
Posted by Richard Hine
editor of The Almanac
on Feb 8, 2007 at 12:45 pm

Richard Hine is a registered user.

For more information on "deconstruction" in Portola Valley, check David Boyce's cover story: "Second life: Portola Valley's bid to set a trend in material reuse" Web Link

Also, see the sidebar below:
Learning more about deconstruction
Deconstruction — the careful dismantling of homes and other buildings — can yield large tax deductions, interior fixtures and decorations that may be dated but still useful, and lots of fine old wood from behind ceilings and under floors.
Deconstruction is also considered benign to the environment since it opens up opportunities to reuse materials in ways that reduce greenhouse gas outputs when compared with using virgin and even recycled materials.
For more information, contact:
-- Jim Steinmetz at Reusable Lumber Co. in Woodside: 529-9122 or
-- Lillian Clark at RecycleWorks, the resource conservation programs manager for San Mateo County: 599-1447 or
-- Dave Marcan at Marcan Enterprises in Moss Beach: 580-2922 or
-- Ted Reiff at The ReUse People of America Inc. in Oakland: 510-383-1983 or
-- Zanker Road Landfill in San Jose: 408-263-2384.
-- Whole House Building Supply & Salvage in East Palo Alto: 328-8731.
-- Sims | Hugo Neu metal recycling in Redwood City: 369-4161.
-- Raisch Products concrete recycling in San Jose: 408-227-9222.
-- Deconstruction Institute in Sarasota, Florida: Web Link
-- Building Materials Reuse Association in State College, Pennsylvania: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by David Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Feb 8, 2007 at 5:00 pm

David Boyce is a registered user.

Arthur "Chip" McIntosh, a Planning Commissioner in Portola Valley, wrote to me at the Almanac in response to this question about deconstruction. His comment:

"If it doesn't cost appreciably more to go the recycling route, then people should do it, and on a broad scale we'll be better off for it."

Like this comment
Posted by Armand Neukermans
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Feb 9, 2007 at 4:34 pm

This is exactly the right thing to do. In fact the US is trailing many other countries in this effort.Cuts the cost of new buildings very significantly . E.g. Switzerland is running out of gravel ( too many houses ) , mandates very strict reuse for new buildings. To talk to an expert on this subject , contact Martin Reinhard , prof at Stanford in Civil Engineering

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