I wanted to share a valuable resource goldmine with anyone in the Puget Sound area that is doing historic reconstructions under the following requirements found on the Port of Everett website:
“Per the mitigation strategy in place for deconstruction of the Collins Building, the salvage materials will be made available, at no cost, to public agencies and owners of buildings listed or eligible to be listed in a local, state or national register of historic places.”
The Collins Building on the Everett Waterfront was deconstructed and they are making a bunch of the columns, beams, and windows available to projects that meet the requirements for no charge. There is a list of available materials and information on the website for how to request it. http://www.portofeverett.com/home/index.asp?page=305
Deconstructing is a wonderful way to make use of resources within a building that can go on to a new life in another building or in a different fashion. If the building is particularly old, like the 75+ year old Collins building, chances are the wooden beams can be of significant quality. One thing that is necessary when dealing with old beams is to make sure to have them professionally re-graded for use if they are to be used in a structural manner in their new location. You may also find lengths of wood that are just not available anymore. The fact that these existing resources are being made available at no charge is truly a boon for anyone who is doing a historic remodel.
As with any re-used material, there are other circumstances to take into consideration before dismantling a building and putting the material in a new location. Most people are aware that any asbestos found in the old building needs to be abated, but recently the EPA put a lead based paint abatement process into place for certain types and sizes of projects. The construction industry is aware of this, but homeowners considering using reclaimed building products need to inquire of their contractor just what needs to be done to be able to use these types of materials safely in their projects. Further info is available at the EPA website.
The reasons for using reclaimed building products varies from the story that can be told from a classically styled piece of hardware that once graced the office of some important business, to the rescuing of a quantity of quality wood that may have been razed just to remove it from the site, to understanding the cost that has been paid already in the embodied energy the wood contains. This is the energy that originally was expended to harvest, mill, and install the beams and windows. More energy would be spent to make a similar supply of wood, so if it already exists, doesn’t it make sense to use what is already there? Naturally an analysis of the wood and where it was going to be used would tell the story of how practical this would be and prudent decisions should be made to retain the value of the embodied energy with as little extra energy being spent to reuse it as possible.
My vote is to always see if there is a way to reuse something you already have – even if it finds life in a totally unexpected way. Beams that once supported a factory, could support a non-profit with a tight building budget, or become benches to support weary shoppers. The options are endless when you’ve got wood.