Posts Tagged field crew

Salvage statistics to be proud of

salvage stats field crew collage

The RE Store’s field crew in action on a recent salvage project


We’ve calculated the total tonnage of building materials and furnishings that we salvaged from being needlessly wasted in 2014. Here’s what our crews lifted in and out of the trucks and the store last year:

  • 3,532,836 pounds of merchandise was sold for reuse (1766 tons)
  • Just over 24 tons of cardboard was recycled
  • Just under 24 tons of metal was recycled
  • Roughly 11 tons of porcelain was recycled
  • Leaving roughly 11 tons of material being thrown out that could not be reused or recycled

We couldn’t do this without your donations, and you thinking of salvage first when purchasing building materials and furnishings. Thanks to all of you for your part in helping us keep usable materials out of the landfill!

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The Booths of Many Lives

All the materials at The RE Store have former lives and stories, but some have even more layers of history than usual. Our field crew picked up ten of these double-sided turquoise blue and burgundy booths from Pepper Sisters Restaurant as they were undergoing a recent renovation. Pepper Sisters got the booths from the venerable Bunk’s Drive-In in the early 90’s as they were closing.

booths of many lives

Once we had these unique pieces, we listed them on Craigslist (always a good place to see the latest and greatest in the store!) where the film crew for the Vancouver-based show, “Supernatural” found them a few days later. They quickly snatched up seven of them for use in the upcoming season as part of a hotel and restaurant setting. The set designer was excited to find out about The RE Store – and is committed to the booths being salvaged once again after they conclude their use on the set. Stay tuned for where they may turn up next… and come find the remaining booths (and others like them) at the our store.

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Treasures from an 1880s Bellevue Homestead

bellevue ranch collage

The Seattle field crew recently salvaged some architectural details and furniture (corbels, columns, mail sorting table, chairs, barrels can be seen in the above photos) from a barn on property that is one of the very earliest homesteads on the east side of Lake Washington. The original 20-acre homestead was established in 1884, located east of Yarrow Bay in Bellevue. The property has been in the current owners family since 1919 when their great-grandfather purchased it – now referred to as The “Ranch”.  The homestead first operated as a dairy and fruit orchard into the 1930’s. When the owner’s parents moved into the homestead as newlyweds in September of 1940, the property had been vacant or rented during the later part of the Depression.  Happily it had remained largely unharmed with much of the furniture, barn, and outbuildings intact.  As a young civil engineer, the current owner’s father began the remodeling of the old Victorian house after WWII that was originally building in 1880s, devoting the bulk of his spare time over the next 50 years to the eternal project of renovating the house for his growing family, then maintaining the property. The original homestead cabin remained on the upper part of the property as well until the 1990’s – and these architectural details we brought back to the store from both buildings had been carefully stored in the barn since the 1950s.  Come check them out!  


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Serendipity at The RE Store

IMG_2212We love a little serendipity here at The RE Store – and we recently had one of those moments at the Seattle store where just the right item was no longer needed in its home at the exact moment that it was needed in a new place.  Our crew backed up the truck to the store from a day in the field, and unloaded a set of French doors from a 1909 West Seattle house.  The door set was still leaning on the back edge of the truck as Bruce, the owner of Comstock Apartments – a 1909 building on Queen Anne – walked into the bay of the store in need of some doors, with the exact dimensions of this set that just came in. He wanted to keep with the original look of the apartment and building – and found it here, just off the truck! As many of you know, and our door sections can attest, most anything built in the Northwest before the mid-last-century was not of a standard size.  So to find the exact size, from the same year/era building at that moment must have been fate.

You never know what might be waiting for you – come to either store to see if that hard-to-find item is here!  

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Summer Kicked-Off with a Carport Deconstruction – Notes From the Field

by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew Member

Summer is here! And that means that the weather is perfect for barbeques, the beach, and even deconstructing a carport. Yes, a carport. At least that’s what The RE Store’s Seattle field crew did on its summer vacation.

field crew deconstructing

You may already know that The RE Store will pick up and/or salvage your reusable building materials for free in the greater Puget Sound area. But did you know that we also offer green demolition services for select projects? The goal of green demolition (or “deconstruction”) is to salvage as much reusable material as possible, while mitigating waste and environmental impact.

With these goals in mind, an aging carport in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood became the perfect candidate for summer deconstruction. We started from the top by stripping off the old torch-down tarpaper roofing; incidentally, this was the only real waste created during the entire project. Next, we pulled the plywood sheathing from the rafters and then removed and lowered the rafters themselves onto our trusty truck Possum.

I should mention that we parked Possum (one of our trusty flat-bed trucks) directly under the carport and worked from it like a scaffold. This provided a stable work platform and allowed us to load salvaged materials immediately upon removal. This is not the first time that Possum has served as part scaffold and part workbench. We even roped the carport’s vertical support beams directly to Possum’s side gates to keep the structure stable as we pulled it apart (MacGyver would be proud).

possum the truck as scaffolding

Surprisingly, most people don’t like to buy lumber that’s full of nails and staples. Thus, we typically “de-nail” all lumber onsite and this carport deconstruction was no exception. Larger nails must be removed the old fashioned way with pry bars or hammers. Smaller nails, however, can be extracted with a pneumatic nail-kicker. The nail kicker is essentially a reengineered nail gun that is placed on the point end of a nail to shoot it free of the work piece.

With the exception of a circular saw to cut a few beams down to length, we deconstructed the entire carport with hand tools and elbow grease. From start to finish, the process took five people approximately four hours, and it yielded twenty sheets of plywood, twenty-five 2”x10”x18’ boards, four 6”x6”x10’ posts, and an assortment of smaller lumber. We recycled all unsellable materials, such as old aluminum rain gutters, flashing, and the pounds of removed nails and others fasters.

loose beams ready for The RE Store

The RE Store’s green demolition services are well suited to standalone structures, such as garages, carports, sheds, and similar outbuildings. These types of structures can be dismantled efficiently with person power and hand tools and typically yield less waste. As an added bonus, green demolition of such buildings creates a supply of quality, reduced-cost building materials for re-consumption by the public.

Contact our crews in Seattle or Bellingham here:

Posted in: Notes From the Field, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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New Arrival – A Trusty Steed for Seattle Operations

2013-new-blue-box-truck1-webIts a boy, no wait, its a girl, no, its a diesel box truck with a lift gate! We have concluded our Truck Fund Raising Campaign that has been going since November of 2012. The new box truck with a lift gate is now serving us well in the Seattle operations. Of course, it is a used vehicle. It even came in a shade of blue. The new truck’s name is still pending but we welcome this beast of burden to the RE family.

This is huge – giving us a more reliable truck fleet to better serve you and communities throughout Washington State. Our salvage crews come to your job site, home, business, storage space or your grandpa’s crazy old barn to pick up and salvage materials. These busy bees visit over 1200 job sites each year. If the trucks break down, the crews end up wasting time and money, losing efficiency and materials. 2013 new blue box truckThat takes away from the 5 million pounds of material that The RE Store diverts every year from being wasted. Those materials also save you money when you go to buy supplies for your remodel, decoration or art project.

We have been helping transform the building industry’s practices that generate one-quarter of all trash in the U.S.. Our crews are the back up that contractors need to reduce disposal fees on job sites, saving supplies to be reused. This is how we have created our jobs at The RE Store from what would have been garbage. This is how we are moving the reuse revolution forward.

And we thank you for your help.


Posted in: Green business, Notes From the Field, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry

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Salvaged Items & Rich History of Sanborn Building in Old Ballard: Notes From the Field

by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew Member

Sandborn Bldg salvage image collage

The RE Store’s Seattle field crew had the recent privilege of salvaging the stately, if not slightly dilapidated, G.B. Sanborn building on historical Ballard Avenue. The three story Romanesque structure was named in honor of Ballard businessman Gustavus B. Sanborn (G.B. to his friends) and opened its doors as a hardware store in 1901. Unfortunately, ol’ G.B. passed away shortly thereafter; however, his building has lived on in various forms, including stints as a department store and even a dry goods company.

Thankfully, the Sanborn’s future will remain secure. As of April, the 102 year old structure was undergoing an extensive and well-deserved retrofit that will preserve much of its original character. The project’s contractor enlisted Ballard’s own RE Store to salvage interior fixtures that were otherwise slated for the debris pile.

Items at the top of our architectural salvage list, and at the top of two flights of stairs, included the Sanborn’s original compliment of ornate cast-iron radiators, cast-iron wall mount sinks, fir panel doors, tin-clad swinging doors, and claw-foot tubs. For those of you wondering why antique claw-foot tubs are so expensive, it’s because they’re typically removed from the second floor of a building with plenty of rickety stairs and no elevator.

We began our salvage of the Sanborn by removing over two-dozen original fir panel doors complete with their true 4”x4” jambs. The field crew typically uses a reciprocating saw to cut through the nails that secure the doorjamb to the studs, but it’s sometimes preferable to do it the old fashioned way with a large pry bar. Using the pry bar reduces the amount of dust emitted into the air and eliminates the sparking and friction caused by cutting through nails and shims. Once removed, the door and jamb are screwed together for safer handling.

Because schlepping around two-dozen hung doors wasn’t enough fun, we moved on to radiators. After all, cast-iron radiators and stairs go together like peanut butter and jelly.  The most practical way to move a radiator down a flight of stairs is by securing it to a hand truck. There is a brief thrill of mechanical advantage as you wheel the iron beast to the edge of the landing, but then you go over the falls, and it all comes down to good old person power. In all, the Seattle field crew removed over a dozen cast-iron radiators, but it felt like a lot more.

Inevitably, the process of salvaging an old building like the Sanborn will reveal bits of local history and even a record of changing tastes. For example, we unearthed two beautiful sets of sliding fir library doors that had been totally encased behind closets built out from the walls. Like the current renovations to the Sanborn, these changes may have been made to make the space more inhabitable or may have been an individual preference. Whatever the case, The RE Store was happy to be involved in saving a little bit of Ballard’s history, no matter how heavy it was and how many stairs were involved.

Come check out all the loot brought back from this historical Old Ballard Ave building – most of the items are at the Seattle store, but Bellingham received some of the 5 and 6 panel doors last week.  Keep up with other ‘cool new things in the stores’ by signing up for our e-newsletter, Salvage Times here.   

Posted in: Notes From the Field, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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Notes From the Field – a Window of Opportunity and a Stairway to Heaven

The RE Store’s Seattle field crew is accustomed to being under the gun. On a typical day we juggle multiple salvage jobs and/or material pickups across the Puget Sound area. Our schedule is constantly changing to accommodate the priorities of the homeowners, contractors and other organizations whose donations keep us rolling. This means that we’re often the last out of a building that’s set for demolition, but sometimes, we’re lucky enough to be inside of it while it’s being torn down.

windows minutes before demo

That was the case earlier this January when we were given a narrow “window” of opportunity to salvage, well, windows from a historical Broadmoor mansion. We knew we had to work quickly because the home was slated for demolition the following day. What we didn’t know, however, was that a Caterpillar excavator would be starting the process as we salvaged windows, doors, and other fixtures simultaneously from the circa 1928 home.

Removing windows under ideal conditions can be a time consuming process depending upon window type, the quality of the installation, and the building’s siding material. This particular salvage, however, went surprisingly quickly. Maybe the time flew due to our habit of singing show tunes while we work, or perhaps it was just the unnerving rumble of the excavator scraping the brick façade off of the house that motivated us. Either way, we managed to salvage around fifty windows and a dozen interior and exterior doors.

spiral stair

Working near heavy equipment isn’t always fun, but you sure do miss it when it’s not around. This is especially true when you have to move a steel spiral staircase the old fashioned way. It’s extra especially true when you have to thread that same staircase around the deck of an indoor pool, and then corkscrew it through a narrow hallway, and then load it onto a truck by hand. That’s right kids; we didn’t even use a furniture dolly.

There’s nothing quite as fine as an orange shag carpet-clad, steel spiral staircase. So, dear reader, you can surely understand why we had to rescue this beauty from its lakefront home in Yarrow Point. Originally, it provided direct access from the master bedroom to the indoor pool below. Once we got it situated in the store’s back lot, yours truly and the rest of the field crew had the pleasure of reloading this shaggy spiral gem on the truck (by hand) and delivering it.  She now has a new home at the Ballard based Four Freedoms Liquor Company. And thus the spiral is complete.

Notes by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew member

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Meet Our Newest Salvage Ambassador – Notes From the Field

by Paul Michaels, Bellingham Pick-up and Delivery Driver

My name is Paul, and I am one of the newest team members of The RE Store in Bellingham.  I became involved with The RE Store this summer when they gave me the opportunity to do some community service helping out in the store.  At the beginning of this fall I was hired on as a temporary employee both in the store and on the Field Crew, which does various salvage and deconstruction projects throughout Northwestern Washington.

I am the new pickup and delivery driver.  My typical day consists of driving “Moe”, a box truck with a lift gate that is being loaned to The RE Store and RE Sources (our parent nonprofit organization) by a supporter in the Bellingham community.  I go out to peoples homes or businesses and I pick up reusable materials, such as cabinets, furniture, and building materials, and I bring them back to the store.  These materials can be donated for a tax deduction or for in-store credit, so customers can trade in the good materials they don’t need and come into the store and pick up other materials for new projects.  I also deliver things to peoples homes that were bought from The RE Store, such as large pieces of furniture and cabinet sets.  The most exciting thing for me about the pickups is seeing how happy people are to be able to see that their stuff is going to be reused.  The most common thing I hear is “well I’m glad someone is going to be able to use and enjoy it.”  With the deliveries, it is always fun to hear and see how the customer is going to use what I’m bringing to them to complete a renovation or re-furnish a part of their house.

I am also able to work part-time on the Field Crew when they need an extra person for a project. The Field Crew bids on various projects, such as taking deconstructing kitchens, bathrooms, or entire buildings, like any other independant contractor.  The difference is what happens to the materials that are being removed.  The Field Crew takes out material as quickly and carefully as possible, with the goal being to reuse the material that is taken out; a typical contractor destroys most of the material that is being taken out, so instead of being reused, the material generally ends up in a landfill.  A number of the large cabinet sets inside The RE Store, as well as a good portion of the dimensional lumber and sheet goods out in the warehouse, come directly from the deconstruction projects done by the Field Crew.

Since having this great opportunity to become involved, I have been amazed at how much everyone – The RE Store and RE Sources employees, customers, and supporters – believes in what we are doing.  People in the community understand and see the value in the idea of reuse.  Not only does it keep things that still have value out of the landfill, it also saves the resources needed to produce new materials, and it keeps those resources within the local community.  I am excited and honored to be a part of it.

We are grateful for Paul’s contributions to the team – and for the donation of Moe the truck!  We couldn’t do any of what we do without the use of trucks like Moe, and are in need of another one for our Seattle store.  Please donate what you can to our Truck Fund here – to keep The RE Store Rolling! 

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Moving Mountains and Salvaging at Sea – Notes From the Field

by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew Member

The RE Store’s Seattle field crew braved the high seas, perilous mountain heights, and speeding trains this November to bring home the goods. Granted, those high seas were on Lake Union, the perilous mountains were made from Plaster of Paris, and that speeding train was actually a scale model. Regardless of the actual danger, those of us on the field crew were in unfamiliar territory as we completed our first ever boat and train pickup (okay, model train and dingy pickup).

From the top of the Smith Tower, to a Chase Bank vault, to a Stephen King movie set near Magnuson Park, the field crew gets to salvage some pretty interesting buildings and places. But we’re not all salvage all the time. In fact, The RE Store offers free residential and commercial pickup services across Western Washington. This means that those of us on the field crew spend half of our time picking up donations of reusable building materials. So, we were only half surprised when the first work order of the day simply read “boat” with an address and time.

Well, it was a boat alright; still floating and everything. Unfazed, we hauled her out of Lake Union and onto dry land. In this case, dry land was a narrow dock covered in metal cleats, ropes and other obstacles. Normally, we would rely upon our trusty furniture dolly, Wheelie Dan, to move such an item. Unfortunately, the dock was impassable this way. Fret not dear reader, for the field crew is gifted with almost, but not quite, superhuman abilities. With our powers combined, we managed to manhandle the eight foot dingy down the dock, up the gangway, and across the parking lot to Fuso the truck.

While the field crew has loaded countless oversized, odd-sized, and even fun-sized items onto Fuso, a boat was indeed a first. Normally, we use our space age aluminum incline plane, also known as a ramp, to load the trucks. However, it would have blocked traffic in the busy parking lot. Therefore, we opted to load the dingy the old fashioned way (the donor was kind enough to help, too). As always, we observed proper lifting techniques and even followed Feng Shui principles to orient the dingy properly once it was on board Fuso.

After unloading at our Ballard retail store, it was time to move some mountains and a train or two. To be specific, a working N scale train layout. Of course, this was not the only thing on our list; we just happened to save it during the course of salvaging a house. Luckily, the handmade train layout, complete with a detailed plaster mountain range and tunnel, was quite manageable. It took just two of us to get it up the ramp and onto the truck. In addition to the train layout, the RE Store netted an electric range, dishwasher, numerous pieces of furniture, solid fir doors, and pounds and pounds of great door hardware, drawer pulls, and cabinet knobs.

While the RE Store makes every effort to save reusable building materials from the waste stream, we sometimes stretch that definition provided that an item can be re-purposed. That said, a dingy can be reused as a dingy of course, or as a planter, a shed roof, or many other wondrous things. And who wouldn’t want a model train to go with their dingy?

Things like lift gates would have made these jobs easier on our field crew – help by donating to our Truck Fund so that we can Keep On Rolling and salvaging great materials and fun objects like this. 

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