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How Can You Legally Harvest Old Growth Timber?

Deconstruction is the process of selectively dismantling or removing materials from buildings before or instead of demolition. Rather than the traditional practice of destroying an obsolete building and throwing away the pieces, deconstruction is the process of preserving the building s valuable materials and/or components for future reuse. Deconstruction achieves the same ends as demolition, but with added benefits:

In short, deconstruction benefits the environment by diverting valuable resources from crowded landfills into profitable uses while supporting and complementing other community objectives.

All manner of material can be salvaged during deconstruction, from architectural components having historic and craft value to millwork; bathtubs and sinks; studs, beams, joists, decking and flooring; and bricks, block and tile.

The resource potential is astounding! Over 3,000,000,000,000 (three trillion) board feet of lumber were produced in the U.S. during the 20th Century. Deconstructed wood is drier and thus will not shrink after installation, unlike virgin lumber. Some is old growth wood, no longer available commercially, with tighter grain resulting in greater strength. Deconstructed wood products often have desirable characteristics like nail holes and discoloration that make them desirable for customers who prefer special finishes that can be described as cottage rustic, character select, or antique.

Because many buildings slated for demolition are in areas in need of community development, deconstruction is an opportunity for local job and entrepreneurial training. Deconstruction requires little capital for companies and organizations that already have construction or demolition tools, and deconstruction is well suited to job training for the construction trades. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is working with HUD to evaluate how programs like HOPE VI, which provides hundreds of millions of dollars annually to demolish buildings, might use deconstruction on public housing while helping HUD meet its community investment (Section 3) obligations.

Suggested deconstruction links:

Deconstruction Overview with Focus on Community Development Opportunities Wood-Framed Building Deconstruction
Feasibility of Deconstruction

For more information, case studies and publications about deconstruction, consult these sites:

The Building Deconstruction Consortium
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
U.S. Forest Products Laboratory

Content updated on 3/26/2004

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