Over the summer, I profiled California-based nonprofit Deconstruction & ReUse Network (DRN), a major player in the home deconstruction movement that had just finished a fantastic whole-house recycling project in Beverly Hills. Deconstruction, to refresh your memory, is an alternative to standard wrecking ball-and-dumpster demolition projects where as much as possible is diverted from landfills — 50 percent of landfill waste in the U.S. comes from construction/demolition projects — and reused. In a deconstruction project, building materials — everything that's nonhazardous is game including the kitchen sink — are salvaged and reincorporated into a new home or donated to Habitat for Humanity ReStores or other charitable organizations.
Enter Shannon Quimby, author, HGTV personality, and “renew-it expert.” In 2008, Quimby took deconstruction to the next, seemingly impossible level with the REX (Reuse Everything experiment) Project where she bought a ramshackle house in Portland, Ore., tore it down, and built a new one reusing all of the building materials from the old house. No Dumpster required.
I’ve come across other deconstruction projects in whichs some elements of the old structure, for some reason or another, weren’t salvageable and were sent the way of the landfill. But 100 percent of the old structure, from the gutters to the bathtubs, being reused? Quimby, a true deconstruction diva, was certainly the first (and maybe the last) to attempt this.
Working with companies like Green Hammer, Inc. and the Re-Building Center, plucky and practical Quimby pulled it off and saved around $50,000 in the process. Her new home looks mighty nice, too. Not sure what Quimby is up to these days — her REX Project blog for OregonLive hasn’t been updated since August 2008 — but I’m guessing it probably involves bright red tops but not a Dumpster in sight.
Check out this video where Quimby explains the REX Project. It's over a year old but certainly no less insightful/inspirational if you're considering a deconstruction project. And following that, DRN explains the virtues of deconstruction .... using Legos.