Deconstructing a House in Five Easy Steps – Notes From the Field

by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew Member

The RE Store’s Seattle and Bellingham field crews teamed-up this June to deconstruct a house in West Seattle, and yours truly lived to tell the tale.

Yes Virginia, there is a difference between demolition and deconstruction. Conventional demolition operations use heavy equipment to raze a structure. This process typically destroys all reusable building materials, and the resulting debris is sent to the landfill. Deconstruction, on the other hand, is just what it sounds like. A structure is carefully disassembled by hand, or sometimes with the assistance of a machine. This allows most reusable materials (fixtures, flooring, lumber, bricks, etc.) to be salvaged. Anything that can’t be reused is recycled, or disposed of appropriately.

So, how do you deconstruct a house by hand? Just get a couple of experienced and hardworking field crew members of The RE Store and follow these five easy steps:

Step One: Working from the top down, remove shingles and underlayment; toss gingerly from roof while taking care to avoid hitting those working below. Next, remove plywood decking and pull skip sheeting. Repeat as necessary to achieve desired result.

Step Two: Remove all interior fixtures (plumbing and electrical), cabinetry, doors, windows, flooring, and other hardware. Ensure water and electrical power supplies are shut off prior to beginning this step.

Step Three: Working from the interior, pull drywall to expose studs. Working from the exterior, remove all siding to expose plywood sheeting. Next, remove sheeting and wave to crew members working inside.

Step Four: Cut roof trusses and lower to ground level for disassembly. Cut and remove wall studs; do not remove load bearing wall studs prematurely. Repeat until sky is clearly visible overhead.

Step Five: Cut and remove remaining wall studs. Remove flooring material to expose floor joists. Cut and remove joists. Load all salvageable materials onto The RE Store trucks. Dispose of any hazardous materials (fluorescent lights, etc.) appropriately. High five team members accordingly.

You too can deconstruct a house in just eight days using this proven method! Or, you can call up The RE Store’s Salvage Crew in Bellingham to learn more about our green deconstruction and salvage services. To see some of our past deconstruction jobs, visit our Flickr page.