Article by Neil Ginty, WDA

Homeowners thinking of remodeling this Earth Day can start their project with a sound environmental and social conscience, while potentially making major tax savings, by sparing those old parts of their home from landfill and recycling them through a process of deconstruction.

Deconstruction is the surgical dismantling of a building for the purpose of reusing its salvageable materials. It is a growing trend as more homeowners look to remodel in more sustainable ways, as over 80% can often be salvaged. The process costs slightly more than the wrecking ball but the tax deduction from the donated building materials often far outweighs it.

Landfill Diversion

Our experience with deconstruction began with a home remodel in Atherton with an environmentally conscious client.

WDA Project Manager Anastasia Bespalova explains, “the topic came up during a conversation with the client and the general contractor. The kitchen was in good condition and she really didn’t like the idea of things becoming trash, especially when they were in such good condition.” The contractor put her in touch with Marcan Enterprise who are specialists in home deconstruction.

“There’s always something you can salvage,” Dave Marcan, CEO and President of Marcan Enterprise, told us. “I’ve always been an advocate of deconstruction. I hate seeing this stuff go to waste, especially when it is a remodel and most of the demolition needs to be done by hand anyway.”

According to Dave, the greater value tends to be in light fixtures and old-growth lumber which our Atherton project was rich in. Old-growth lumber is wood from forests that had been growing for hundreds of years and is in high demand as modern supplies are cultivated from rapidly grown trees that have less dense wood which is weaker and more susceptible to decay.

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Social Benefits

Marcan Enterprise typically donates their salvaged materials to non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity or the ReUse People in San Leandro. Habitat for Humanity focuses their effort on Low-Income Housing, while the ReUse People’s mission is diverting materials from landfill, putting them back in the supply chain and reducing the carbon emissions required for re-manufacturing.

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Financial Sense

The deconstruction approach is not only a social and environmental good, it also makes financial sense for the potential tax savings. The ReUse People cite an actual 5,523sq.ft Atherton home that donated deconstructed materials worth $182,346, which amounts to a cash value of $54,700 (assuming a tax-rate of 30%). A figure that comfortably covers typical deconstruction costs of $20-30,000 with some change.

The social, environmental, and financial benefits of deconstruction have seen it rise in popularity, particularly in California where people tend to promote sustainable strategies when possible. For eco-conscious homeowners looking to remodel, but wary of their carbon footprint, deconstruction provides a way to ensure your old home does not go directly to landfill.

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