Archive for February, 2010

RE Definitions: Bargain jargon

Photo of dictionary definition of wasteThe English language is a mish mash of many languages and one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn. It is also great fun to twist and contort for your own purposes. Here are some terms and phrases that spring from the rebounding values of reuse, recycling and waste reduction.

Waste stream
The flow of waste material from source to disposal

Using low-value or ordinary objects to make something extraordinary

Transforming an item from its original purpose into something different

Green Demolition / Deconstruction
A set of techniques that dismantle existing buildings with the purpose of reusing as much of the material as is possible (up to 50 percent or more in some cases). In deconstruction, remaining materials are recycled for reprocessing into new materials (drywall, chip board, mulch, metal, etc). As little as 1-2 percent of a building ends up in the trash. Visit our website’s Green Demolition Deconstruction Services page for links to case studies, photo galleries, and more information about deconstruction.

Any item, found or obtained for free

Closed loop
Waste or byproducts of one process or product is used in making another product. Also known as cradle-to-cradle

Adaptive re-use
A method of preservation where a building retains its signature visual elements, but the structure is used for a purpose other than originally intended

Life cycle costing
An evaluation technique which determines the total cost of acquisition, operation, maintenance, and disposal of items being acquired

Product take-back
A form of extended producer responsibility that requires companies to take back their products after the consumer is ready to replace them or throw them away (Note – this is becoming a prevailing way of doing business with items like appliances, automobiles, etc in European countries.)

Trashion or trash fashion
Utilizing cast-off materials to create clothing and accessory designs. Visit our website’s photo gallery of Trash Fashion highlights from our annual show.

What terms or definitions can you add to our list of reuse and salvage?

Posted in: Reference and resources, Transforming the building industry

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New and Better: Utilizing The RE Store for residential remodeling contracting

Bob Penny helps The RE Store install windows in it's Bellingham facility

Bob Penny helps The RE Store install windows in it's Bellingham facility

by Bob Penny
Hawk Meadow Homecraft
small contractor in Bellingham

Something that has bothered me for many years is the infrequency with which local contractors utilize The RE Store to create win-win arrangements for their remodeling clients.  Hopefully what follows can inspire and promote this incredible local resource, and

illustrate some of the various strategies to bring The RE Store in as a helpful partner for contractors and clients.

I offered a $200 gift certificate for my services at a silent auction, with the proceeds to benefit The RE Store. The couple who won the bidding

used the certificate to get an initial price reduction off of a multi-faceted remodel for an older home they had recently purchased in Bellingham’s Lettered Streets neighborhood.  They presented to me a project with a variety of options.  Floors needed to be refinished, windows cabinets and doors replaced, a porch floor needed to be rebuilt, framing needed to be changed – the list went on.  It was a multi-faceted list, and certainly not all of the items would make the inevitable budget cutting process.

How should the project be approached?  What factors could help determine the cost effectiveness of various elements under consideration?

I wrote a comprehensive proposal that broke out all the costs involved for each item on the list.  Included was the cost of removing,

hauling away, and disposing of an entire set of perfectly good, but medium quality, kitchen cabinets and half a dozen newer, but not stylistically correct, interior doors.  In the contract I inserted a clause allowing for a further $300 price reduction

if The RE Store choose to remove these materials.  The RE Store sent a field crew leader to the house to preview the materials, and agreed to do the work.  The work proceeded quickly and efficiently.  Within four hours the entire set of cabinets and all the doors were gone – I had done no physical work and had expended little organizational time.  The rooms were

left clean and neat, the plumbing items to remain and be reinstalled left neatly collected together.
For making this “donation” of materials to a registered non-profit the owners were given two options – receive a tax-deductible receipt, or a trade credit at the store.  They elected for the trade credit, worth $183.  Additionally, The RE Store

had the right salvaged tongue and groove flooring to help patch damaged areas of the house’s floors.  There was enough to do the whole front porch floor.  The porch floor had been initially eliminated from the project because of cost – new fir flooring is extremely expensive.  But The RE Store material was about half the price of new.  And with a further $183 price reduction it was a steal.

Another benefit was to the environment.  I always insert a statement in my contract that enumerates any old growth materials to be used in the project, and recommends alternatives.  The biggest old growth item in this project was the porch floor.  But now all that material could be had without cutting any new trees.  Additionally, the elimination of the porch from the project had reduced my potential for earnings and profit.  Reintroducing this item back into the project at a reduced cost gave that earning potential back to me, at a savings to the clients.

A final tally of benefits from this participation with The RE Store:

The RE Store received:
A $200 donation from the auction
A half day of salvage work

Over $1,250 worth of highly attractive sales items for the showroom
An additional sale of about $750 of flooring

The client received:
A price reduction of $200 on the project

Another price reduction of $300 on the project
A tax-deductible receipt from The RE Store for their $200 bid donation
A savings of about $1000 on a purchase of flooring over new prices
An additional credit of $183 on the flooring purchase

I, the contractor, received:
A job that keeps me busy and employed for over two months
A satisfied client who could provide good references for future work
A portion of the work done without hardly any effort by me

A portion of the project eliminated by the budget reintroduced to the project

The Earth receives:
The continued existence of one huge old growth Douglas Fir tree.

~ Another win-win-win-win situation, courtesy of your friends at The RE Store.

Learn more about Bob Penny and Hawk Meadow Homecraft

Posted in: Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry

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What is this blog about anyways?

garage full of building materials and tools

Is it junk or is it treasure? It all depends on the lens.

We admit it – we are junkies. We love junk – and by junk we mean stuff that someone doesn’t want anymore. It is trash or leftovers to them. More specifically, we love high-quality junk that you can use to build, remodel, adorn, beautify and upgrade any sort of structure or landscaped area with. Junk is a term of endearment that some of us use to describe the river of used building supplies that is our passion and livelihood.

We love it: your junk, your neighbors junk, your uncle’s junk, our contractor cousin’s junk. We want it and we want to help you get some quality junk for yourself.

Junk always has a story of where it came from, what it was used for, what else it was transformed into, and why. Those stories can have a lot of fascinating, odd, and quirky details that would be lost to the incinerator, the tub grinder or the landfill without people like us. Are you a junkie too?

Tell us your story. Tell us about how you have taken something you got at The RE Store, added some of your own scrounged or found junk, and made something useful, beautiful, or provocative with.

Posted in: Why blog about The RE Store?

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