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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I got a headache so...

Where are you darlin', when my
Moon is risin', and your
Sun is shinin' down

I got a headache so I'm packin it in today. Here is the article I wrote for my local paper. I can't remember what draft it is but I'm sure you'll get the point.

Construction Want Not, Waste Not

It always seems to happen that the hottest day of the year is when one decides to demo their old deck, wall, or basically any hard work that needs to be done around the house. During this sweaty process of ripping out the sheet rock or tearing apart the planks, the general notion of disposing of the old material is widely used. The fact is with smart planning and careful disassembly literally thousands of dollars can be saved.

According to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection; 20-35% of wood, 10-20% of drywall, and 5-15% of cardboard is wasted in residential construction. One way to alleviate such waste is through the method of deconstruction. Deconstruction is a method that does not use demolition but careful process to salvage existing materials. The salvaged material is then used for other projects or can be donated to reuse facilities. The use of recycling with deconstruction has also been found to be beneficial to a homeowner’s pocketbook.
A case study in Vermont found that although the use of deconstruction added 3 weeks to the job, the homeowner actually saved $3,400 by reusing old materials and a tax deduction provided by the state. Another deconstruction case in Vermont simply placed used construction materials alongside the jobsite in a safe, fenced area and local citizens and employees would browse through and take what they needed. About 38% of the waste was reused in this manner and the company saved over $3000 in potential rental, hauling, and disposal fees.
Roofing shingles from residential building is a major waste that can be reused for new infrastructure. Different states have adopted regulations that require at least five percent of shingle material to be used in road surfaces and cold patches. Currently trails and highways around Minnesota have used shingles for their roads. A recent US Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin used the exterior of sixty-year-old army barracks as floorboard in the new complex. The wood used was considered to be high quality old growth lumber and with the high cost of disposing of such timber, it was economically feasible and, arguably, ethical to implement.
Minnesota currently has some tax benefits to people who decide to reuse their construction materials. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency ( has abundant information on their website for anyone who would be interested in these specific tax breaks. Also if you are planning any sort of projects for this fall or next summer, the Minnesota Materials Exchange website ( offers a search engine for any kind of building materials you may need. If you’re not involved in a big project and may need something in terms of appliances, the Twin Cities Free Market ( homepage is great if your looking to get rid of/or find a kitchen appliances or nearly anything around the house.
In the future if you decide to schedule a deck job or an addition to your home before you decide to throw everything away, look into the potential tax benefits with donating such materials. Such planning can very well save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars which would make the job that much easier on that inevitable hot day which always falls on the day of the project.

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