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Recycled Materials

Using recycled building materials in your project is a two-fer; one act that brings two benefits. By using materials that already exist, you are rescuing that material from a landfill and saving the energy that would be used to create a new product. By using lumber torn out during demolition to frame up walls in a remodel, contractors can also save on dumpster fees.

  • Find a Building Materials Exchange Center near you. These stores generally sell standard building materials like doors and cabinets at a fraction of the price of new goods.
  • Architectural salvage markets generally offer more upscale (read "expensive") building materials, like unique doorknobs and claw-foot bath tubs, but sometimes you can find just what you're looking for without buying it new.
  • Instead of completely demolishing a home in preparation for a remodeling job, learn how to deconstruct the building in a way that leaves most of the materials intact for later reuse.

Resource efficient design and construction

An NAHB study found that typical residential construction projects generate 4.38 pounds of debris for every square foot of constructed space. That means building a typical new home of roughly 2,000 square feet generates well over four tons of waste!

Thoughtful floor plans and construction techniques can substantially reduce the amount of materials needed, and wasted.

  • Build smaller homes. A smaller home means fewer resources used in construction, less energy used to heat and cool the home, and hey, less time spent cleaning!
  • Try advanced framing techniques and optimum value engineering (OVE) that use less lumber than conventional framing without compromising strength.
  • Cluster the utilities. A centrally located mechanical core like the one in the PATH Concept Home reduces the need for long pipe and duct runs, which saves materials and energy. A central core also lends flexibility to the floor plan for future remodels by keeping most walls free of plumbing, wiring and ductwork.
  • Consider panelized wall and roof systems and insulated concrete form foundations. Costs vary widely depending on the materials and the experience of the building crew, but they are more resource efficient (and in some cases more energy efficient and termite resistant) than stick-built homes, so check around for reasonable price quotes. A study published by the Wood Truss Council of America showed savings of over $3,000 when a 2,600-square-foot home was built with trusses and wall panels versus conventional framing techniques.

Content updated on 12/31/2007

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