Posts Tagged green building

Whale Skeletons, Recycled Building Supplies and Custom Designs

Whale skeleton with REvision Division Display

“Using recycled materials is in line with our mission,” says Cindy Hansen. “One way to help the whales is by helping the environment, which is something kids can wrap their heads around. It’s something easy they can do.”

Cindy is a zoologist and the Education Curator at The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. For more than 34 years, the museum’s mission is Promoting stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research. The museum is home to two gray whale skeletons: one hangs from the ceiling, and the other can be put together like a giant puzzle on the floor. Last year, the museum’s gray whale project was in need of a new display when Cindy happened upon Eberhard Eichner and the REvision Division booth at the Green Village during the San Juan County Fair. Eberhard, The RE Store’s designer/builder, launched the REvision Division two years ago, taking orders for custom building projects using recycled materials for businesses, home owners, and organizations. The Whale Museum received a grant for the gray whale exhibit, and they commissioned Eberhard and the REvision Division to design, build, and help install the interactive/interpretative information station.

Cindy, Jenny (the museum’s Executive Director), and Jill (Communications Manager) met with Eberhard in Bellingham to discuss the project, and, “As the four of us were talking, it all fell together.” Cindy said they had envisioned something with several panels on it, but it was Eberhard’s idea to work with the materials that he used: a door and a table at the center of the design, and louver doors as a decorative touch. “We decided to use those to display trivia cards, which are a huge hit,” she said.

whale museum display in the shop

Eberhard described the process and the result: “In three design, planning, and feedback sessions, we developed a very unique and functional display.  The components are still clearly recognizable parts of former uses and purposes.”

Says Eberhard of the design, “I was after a whale/maritime/Pacific Rim theme, and a compliment to the magnificent skeleton above. I made very few cuts or alterations to the original size, shape, and appearance of the components. It was a process of true collage and fitting matching pieces to each other.”

“The top “whale’s tail” panel came from a bed headboard and is floating on and among stacked “low tide rocks”, a.k.a. furniture legs.

“Eberhard was great to work with. He was so great at listening to our thoughts and suggestions,” said Cindy.

The grant that The Whale Museum got for building the gray whale display also included some funds for bringing students from low-income schools out to San Juan Island to see it and participate in the gray whale skeleton articulation program. Some of the students had never been on a ferry before. The program and display really complement each other and has been a hit with the students and teachers. Cindy said, “We’ve gotten so many great, great comments on it! It’s been a really popular exhibit.”

You can see the whale skeleton and the custom display at The Whale Museum, of course, and also on its website.

 

The REvision Division has built, among other things, a puppet theater for the Lummi Island Library, custom furniture for an elderly retirement house, and a picnic table for a dog park.

You can get a free 15-minute consultation on your reclaimed materials project—anything from full remodels to simple DIY projects:
In Seattle on the third Saturday of the month from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
In Bellingham on the first Saturday of the month from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. beginning in September, 2013

And you can find The RE Store educational DIY videos on the REvision Division page.

 

Special thanks to Christine Clifton-Thornton for authoring this article.

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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How The RE Store Was Created 1991-1994

Storefront compilation 1999-2013 The Bellingham RE Store opened its doors in 1993 at the corner of Kellogg and Meridian, and the Seattle location opened in 1999. Jack Weiss, a council member for the city of Bellingham, recently recalled how The RE Store was created. When Jack was working as the Whatcom County Waste Reduction and Recycling Coordinator in the early 1990s, he hired Jeff Brown as a consultant to write the County Solid Waste Management Plan. Jeff Brown was then the executive director of the non-profit Environmental Resource Services (ERS), which later became RE Sources, the parent organization of The RE Store. According to Jack, Jeff was integral in his role as the brainchild of many of ERS’s early endeavors. The same could be said about Carol Rondello, who was Jeff’s go-to for both ideas and implementation. There were a number of others back then who also deserve credit in the evolution of what eventually became The RE Store, but Jeff and Carol carried most of the water. At that time, Jeff’s plan had the weight that state growth management plans do today. A few chapters of that plan provided the framework to counter the business-as-usual approach by the waste management industry. The plan was a couple of years in the making and was finally approved in 1994. The plan went on to become a template for other counties in the state. Jack marveled that he’d “never seen any plan on any subject that was as comprehensive and forward-looking as that one.” Back in 1991, Jeff brought the idea of a reusable material exchange operation to Jack after having seen the initial success of Urban Ore in Berkeley and Hippo Hardware in Portland. During the next 18 months, the two spent quite a bit of time fleshing out the idea to the point of searching the county and city for storefront sites for a county-run operation. The idea in its purest form was to accept materials from the public or contractors prior to disposal but also to scavenge the tip floor at the two incinerators and pull out reusable items. Jack hired ERS to do a survey of what was possible on the tip floor, because the true intent of this type of operation was waste diversion, and ERS knew their stuff. Jack decided to take $30,000 out of a grant award he’d received and apply it toward seed money for a material exchange through a Request For Proposal (RFP) process. They received two responses to the RFP: one from ERS and another from County Construction Recyclers (CCR—a demolition landfill off of Hemmi Road in Bellingham, which is now closed). CCR had a good proposal, but Jack chose ERS because of their philosophical understanding of the RFP purpose. The focus was on waste diversion rather than money. Carl Weimer, now a Whatcom County council member, had at the time become the next director of ERS. After Jack signed off on the contract, Carl secured the site on Meridian where The RE Store now stands and hired Bruce Odom as manager. Ultimately, the launch of The RE Store was the result of many hands. “The one regret I have about The RE Store,” says Jack, “is that it never did fully explore waste diversion opportunities on tip floors of all types of waste, but it did establish a great salvaging operation for building materials.” As we celebrated 20 years this month, we remember Jeff Brown, Jack Weiss, Carol Rondello, Carl Weimer, Bruce Odum and everyone else who made the creation of The RE Store possible.

Posted in: Green business, Reference and resources, Stories about people, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry, Why blog about The RE Store?

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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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Complete remodel of Rousseau home – restoration, reuse and daylighting

Here is a journey for you – a tale of complete remodeling of the interior and exterior over 11 years, by Katrina Roussea. This home is featured in Sustainable Connections’ 2013 Imagine This! Home and Landscape Tour. Get your tickets today for 9 homes full of green building and landscaping inspiration!

rousseau remodel collage

“When my husband and I purchased the house 13 years ago, there were elements of the Victorian design from 1905 and a major Colonial Revival renovation in 1941. We were lucky to have photos so that we could see how the house looked over the years. Apparently the house was originally located on Chestnut St near the old St Josephs Hospital location and was moved to the current location in the mid 1980’s.  Because the house had been altered so much through the years we felt that we could do a “semi-historical” renovation.  We felt that we had the flexibility to use whatever historic features we wanted to and not be constrained by any particular historical period.’

‘We have so many great resources here in Bellingham and the Pacific NW.  I also did lots of research online. Over the last 13 years I have been to many older home open houses getting ideas and asking questions.  I have also taken and collected lots of photos that were really helpful when we started to design.  We were also careful to pick a contractor who would be open to re-using old house parts and who would get what we were trying to do.  Bellingham Bay Builders has gone above and beyond in that regard.’

‘We have lived in the house for 13 years, and the house did not seem to “flow.”  Our kitchen was chopped up, passageways were blocked.  Upstairs was one tiny bathroom and two large bedrooms (one was 22 feet long) with 2 closets and one tiny bedroom with no closet.’

‘Going into the remodel we had several priorities.  

  1. Reconfigure the floor plan without adding much additional square footage to make the house flow better.  We studied the “Not So Big House” books to achieve that.  
  2. Try and re-use everything that we could from the house.  
  3. Find historical architectural artifacts and re-use those where we could
  4. Make any new materials look original. 

‘We actually started the process 11 years ago.  Once a year I had Jim Gunsolus (of Craftsman Woodworking) take out a window and I then had it stripped at the Strip Shop in Ferndale. The Glass house Co.in Ferndale would restore the leaded glass. Gunsolus then restored the ropes and weights and re-did the trim using old fir that he got from The RE Store.  The effect was stunning and the cost about the same as if we had replaced the windows with new good quality wooden ones.  At about the same time we wanted to put in a gas fireplace, which we did after I found a 100 year old mantle piece that came out of a house in Texas.  The fun for me in these previous projects was that people thought these things were all original to the house.

‘In preparation for the current renovations, I have spent the last year looking for house parts and finding homes for the house parts that we were not going to use. The best items included:

  • 7 vintage doors, at Second Use in Seattle, that came from a house in the Queen Anne neighborhood.  I needed exactly 7 doors and there they were!  I then advertised the doors that I wasn’t going to use on Craigslist and a lady from Blaine who was restoring an old farmhouse was delighted to get them.  
  • A classic 3 panel door that was the exact size that we needed in the kitchen from The RE Store. We also found a nice glass doorknob and lever door set from The RE Store but we are re-using most of our old door hardware.  
  • A pair of antique leaded glass French doors from Second Use in Seattle
  • Vintage hemlock flooring from Earthwise in Seattle – some of the boards were 14 feet long from an old house in Wallingford.  
  • An antique newel post was scored from Skagit Salvage. Gunsolus was able to make a smaller one to match it upstairs.  You can’t tell which is old and which is new.

Surprises in the house included:

  • Historical memorabilia like a child’s homework project that was dated 1908 behind a cupboard. 
  • Stripping the built in cupboards revealed beautiful old growth fir beneath all of the layers of paint. 
  • We figured out how to re-use my favorite door as a pocket door. 
  • Structural beams that had to be added upstairs became a wonderful part of the house. 

The project also included a full replacement of the siding and bringing natural light into the home. Dylan Hicks of Bellingham Bay Builders shared more about the project.

“Designer Deborah Todd worked closely with John and Karina to conceive of the remodel and produced detailed permit drawings. Daylighting was a prime goal of the interior remodel, removing light-blocking interior partitions on the top floor.   New modern windows, multiple new skylights and a creative light plan will ensure a bright interior environment. We removed the three existing layers of siding, replaced windows that were beyond repair and weatherized the shell. We applied new exterior trim and siding to closely match the photo from 1927.”

Karina concluded, “I think my biggest piece of advice to anyone working on their old house is to figure out a way to stay true to your house, even if it means that you have to do things slowly.”

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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A Young RE Store Rockstar builds her own Tiny House of Salvage

Celina's tiny house under constructionThis RE Store Rockstar is one industrious young lady.  Celina Dill, 17, is building her 10’ x 18’ x 14’ high tiny house, on wheels, entirely out of reused and repurposed materials. Inspired by the Tiny House Movement she is ‘unschooling’ herself by diving into all the trades it takes to make a project like this come to life.

She is an obsessed builder right now, with the goal of moving into her cottage in August. Items acquired from The RE Store include: “The Toilet of her Dreams” (really!), which has a 3/4″ tilt on the lid area; her ‘really cool’ front door, which is being refinished as we speak; a window or two, and the latest purchase: French doors. Since Celina’s walls are thinner than the walls the door set came from, they needed to do some tricky Skilsawing of the frame, reducing their width by 1 1/2″. She has also acquired items from Second Use, Earthwise, and Skagit Building Salvage.

I’ll let her words tell the rest of the story, since among her many talents are great story telling and photography.  More about Celina’s Tiny Abode can be found at http://mytinyabode.blogspot.com/. Many pictures of her project can be seen on these pages.

It seems Celina comes from a long line of industrious folks.  Her dad, Walter Dill, also has a ‘home on wheels’ project in the works – a 1956 Airfloat Land Yacht.  He uses reclaimed materials as well, and found lights for the interior at The RE Store that have yet to found their actual location.

Thanks to both Celina and Walter for inspiring us with their Rockstar Projects!  Do you have a RE Store-inspired project to be proud of?  Please, show off & share your story!

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry, You can do it yourself

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PSE’s Re-Energized by Design winners – designing around reuse

Scott and Nia Sayers spent the last six months winning a competition that remodeled their home’s interior, benefitted their family and their professional lives, all while designing around reuse. That contest was Puget Sound Energy’s Re-Energized by Design challenge that pitted six households against each other in a contest that we quote here from the PSE site:

“Re-Energized by Design is a ‘design show’ style competition, where six PSE customers are competing in a series of five room-by-room makeover challenges to combine creative home design with energy efficiency. After each challenge, one contestant is eliminated. PSE provides contestants with a weekly cash allowance, energy-efficient products, and a design coach to help implement stylish energy-efficient home upgrades.”

Designing with reuse - Nia Sayers Window Display - Bubble TubThe Sayers have been designing around reuse for many years. Nia Sayers did window displays at The RE Store in Bellingham in 2008 and 2009. Nia came up with inspiring concepts like a salvaged claw-foot bathtub full of light globes and lightbulbs as bubbles.

Nia Sayers Serving table displayThen there was her outdoor serving table that she built from a table base rescued from the brink of the landfill. Click on the photo thumbnails for full-sized photos. Nia has taught workshops on DIY skills like recovering upholstery and her idea for this project is downloadable here.

Scott Sayers - Chevy Chase - Recycled Arts Show 2013Scott just had pieces in both Bellingham galleries for the 12th Annual Recycled Arts Show. If you missed his perfect rendering of Chevy Chase in negative relief that was cut out of duct tape, the photo doesn’t do it justice. Scott said that for the Re-Energized by Design competition that “The RE Store was our secret weapon.”

When asked about how all of the remodeling of the family’s home wrapped up, Nia said, “We still have some projects to finish up.”

And don’t we all…

Check out the Re-Energized by Design website for all of the stories, more resources for saving money and making a home more efficient. You might pick up some creative and clever ways to improve home interiors and make it more energy-efficient. And learn more about Nia on her site, SummerLandStyle.com.

Posted in: Green business, RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Video posts, You can do it yourself

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Building Deconstruction, Green Demolition and Decon ’13

State Street warehouse seriesIf someone asked you what deconstruction is, would you respond:

  1. A complex philosophical movement about meaning that started in France in the 1960’s
  2. A new way of salvaging construction supplies from structures that are being demolished
  3. The age-old method of recovering useful building materials from an existing building

If you answered 3, you are correct. The Roman Empire dismantled and reused ancient Egyptian architectural elements and other building materials over 2000 years ago. They repurposed construction supplies, known as spolia, from throughout the many lands they conquered. Building deconstruction has become a movement in North America over the last 2 decades. The top five reasons are:

  1. Green building has become well-documented as a wiser way to build and remodel structures for all types of use
  2. Resources and commodities have increased in cost
  3. Waste disposal has become more expensive
  4. Design and decor trends have grown the public interest in reclaimed materials
  5. The “D.I.Y.” movement has become hugely popular across television, radio, print and online channels

Decon 13 logoThe deconstruction movement is spreading as businesses, tool research and development, national conferences and case studies all add fuel to the fire. The deconstruction industry’s largest conference, Decon ’13 is hosted by the Building Materials Reuse Association. The event happens this week in Seattle with a wide range of topics that include:

  • Designing for buildings to be deconstructed
  • Historic preservation
  • Deconstruction work force training and education
  • Use of low-value materials
  • Negotiating and permitting deconstruction projects
  • The RE Store’s REvision Division will present our innovative and award-winning furniture building program

You would be hard pressed to find a better source of information, best practices, great networking and much more. Come and be a part of the movement this week, whether you are a builder, architect, demolition contractor, salvager, government project manager, politician or average joe working to stay abreast of the latest building industry trends. The RE Store has over 13 years of experience taking down buildings, including case studies on our website. Contact us today for a bid on your project. What topics would you like to learn about, in regards to deconstruction?

Posted in: Green business, Reference and resources, Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry, You can do it yourself

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Chalkboard Slate Counters, Door Headboards and more from “Art & Architecture”

Friend of The RE Store, Jay Lazerwitz of art and architecture is an Architect, Artist and Certified Passive House Consultant who is constantly thinking of salvage for his projects.  Where else is better to experiment than in his own house?  Below are a few of his recent examples sent (in his own words):

bathroom collage

Chalkboard Slate Counter Top – I had heard of folks using chalk board slate, and heard that The RE Store gets some on occasion. I wanted a more contemporary look, and with our main colors being reds and black (floor, tub apron, end wall tile, etc.) – so chalk board was perfect. I also liked the thinness of the material. So often I think thick stone counters are wasteful, as only the top surface is what is important. Fortunately I was able to find a piece slightly larger than the size I needed, and I also got a great deal from a fabricator who has worked on many of my design projects, who cut the shape to my template, and honed the top surface. The finished look is clean and elegant.

headboard and relite

Bed headboard  – We got a bed from a neighbor who wanted to get a new Queen-size bed.  When we set it up we realized the mattresses were not very comfortable, so we ended up buying a new set. With only the metal frame, we needed a headboard, and after designing one, and getting an estimate from a cabinet-maker I know, I decided to look at other options, as this was going to cost $200-300; the material alone $125+.  I decided a trip to The RE Store might give me some ideas, and/or I might find some material to use, saving some money. I did not find any sheet-stock material that looked appropriate, but did start looking at the various doors hoping to find something interesting. Luckily I spotted a great mahogany door, though well longer than the 5′ headboard length I needed. For $40 I decided to buy the door and figure out how to modify this later.  As an architect I’ve come to know a lot of great craftspeople, and happen to be working with one on a project of his, so we worked out a trade.  He shortened the door; removing the recessed panel, cutting down the stiles, and reset it all so perfectly; even filling in the former hardware holes. We love the headboard and even seeing the hardware fillers, gives us a sense of all the work that went into the door.

Interior window – I have used interior re-lites in many projects, and finally decided to install one between a south-facing upstairs bedroom and our stairway. In conjunction with re-surfacing the original plaster walls, which had some cracking, and also wanting to add some texture to the walls (in this case a soft broom texture, recommended by our plaster contractor). I found a beautiful leaded window, that had been removed from a house in South Park, due to window upgrades in that area, for better acoustic benefits of double-paned windows. An added benefit is that the bedroom feels even larger with the interior window, and still has all the privacy as no one can see into the room through the re-lite.

 gates collage

Garden gates –  I took another trip to The RE Store to see what I could get inspired by, when I needed to install a garden gate that would keep in our friend’s dog, for all the times we dog-sit. I spotted some window sashes, and figured those would make some nice gate, and provide some see-through for pets and children. I was worried about keeping the glass in, for the main gate, along our side street, and after finding a nice window sash, removed the glass and installed some scrap metal that I had around waiting to be repurposed. I then painted the gate similar colors to the house (paint was on-hand), with a clear, salvaged fir top.

 Thanks so much to Jay and all his RE Store Rockstar project examples!  You can find out more about Jay here:  http://www.artandarch.net

 

Posted in: Green business, RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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Outdoor Cinemas, Flying Beds & Funky Junk at NW Flower & Garden Show

Flower and Garden Show Booth CollageDid you ever ride on a flying bed made from old stair stringers and reclaimed fir posts at the NW Flower and Garden Show? If you didn’t get a chance to see it in person, we had a suspended day bed from which to watch the movie screen on the side of the “house” with salvaged beveled siding. Cabinet drawers arranged around the bed were filled with various bedding annuals and perennials. An outdoor kitchen sported one of the much acclaimed “Big Green Egg” hybrid grill/oven/smoker and a nice used cook top. Random reclaimed rummagings were used for planters and a vertical pallet garden filled out the vignette.

The Flower & Garden Show seminars are always a big highlight, bringing experts on a wide variety of experts on gardening, plants, garden design, food and more.  We proposed two seminars this year and were chosen as two of the 85 speakers from almost 250 proposals.

Thanks to everyone who came out to see us at the Flower and Garden Show this year – it is always great to meet new folks and catch up up with old friends! We had a great time designing and building this booth – this year’s theme was an “Outdoor Cinema” in line with the larger show’s theme of “Silver Screen – Take Root”.

Eberhard Eichner, our master of REvision Division furniture building in Bellingham talked about making the most of small urban gardening spaces outdoor furniture and demonstrated how to build a planter box, bench seat and arbor

Jason Darling, our Education and Marketing Coordinator, presented an inspiring slideshow with photos and videos of creative planters, fences and screens, pavers and patios, arbors, sculptural accents, water features and weird old unidentifiable things. Everything was made from reclaimed materials and he even did some good networking, soliciting artists for our 12th Annual Recycled Arts Show.

Thanks so much to our friends at Seattle Urban Farm Company for teaming up with us on our booth at the Flower & Garden Show – and to Sutter Home & Hearth for loaning us the “Big Green Egg” grill/smoker for the outdoor kitchen – and thanks to Sky nursery for loaning us some plants too.

Posted in: Green business, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry, You can do it yourself

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DIY Garden Shed: Extra Space or Special Place

Garden shed in EdmondsSheds and shacks can be a saving grace for home owners, creatives, gardeners, or contemplatives.  Have you considered a small space recently that could give you on-site storage or reprieve from the rat race?

Gaetan Veilleux designed and built himself a sweet little 10×12 garden shed in Edmonds, Washington. His father was a master carpenter/cabinetmaker so Gaetan learned a lot about building growing up, but that was over 30 years ago. He looked to books from the library and the internet to relearn things such as installing windows, hanging a door, and building the roof.

Gaetan’s wife, Deborah Binder, helped source some of the materials like finding roofing materials through Freecycle and Craigslist. Deborah revitalized the dutch door, also known as a stable door or a half door, that she found at The RE Store in Ballard. The door restoration required that she learn how to cut glass and reglaze the multi-paned upper half of the door. The shed also has a Velux skylight (Oooo… fancy!) that the couple bought from a local window and door store. It was out of the box and had been used as a showroom demo.  They scored it for 75% off the list price. The windows came from The RE Store as well.

The shingles were a fun find for Deborah. She writes:

Gaetan in his shed's dutch doorway

“I had been watching a house being built in Edmonds on my daily dog walking strolls.  For months I saw a huge pile of shingles on pallets sitting in the front yard. As the grass grew taller and the house seemed finished I wondered what the builder was going to do with all the shingles.  I called the number on the sign posted in the front yard and reached the site manager.  He said I could take as many of the shingles as I wanted for FREE. So I took them all.   When I priced them out I realized that I saved at least $500. We have a small amount left that we plan to use on another project.  The shingles were pre-painted blue, but we plan to paint the shed this coming Spring (2013) to match our house.”

Check out The RE Store’s guide to designing your own little shed with this free pdf download: Extra Space or a Special Place

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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