Deconstruction vs Demolition

Things are happening on site at our DUO Townhomes site in Parksville, BC. The existing houses are coming down, tree falling is complete, and excavation has started for Building 01.

We’ve taken a slightly different approach to removing the existing houses and opted for deconstruction versus the more conventional approach of machine-based demolition. This type of salvage is common when the wood has high value due to its age, species, dimensions, character, etc. but is far less common when the wood is conventional dimensional lumber. By choosing deconstruction for DUO we can salvage the dimensional lumber coming out of the houses for reuse, where it makes sense and meets code, in the new construction processes. This is a far better solution than turning this perfectly good wood into bark mulch or sending it to the landfill.

Our site superintendent is tracking all of the waste diversion which shows us that, in addition to our planned reuse of materials in the project, we are seeing components going to the local community, the used construction materials retail market, and to The ReStore which is a key part of the Habitat for Humanity program.

Our team members are working alongside Unbuilders (unbuilders.com), a key trade partner in this process, to disassemble and inventory the material.  In addition to the environmental benefit of this process deconstruction provided us with an opportunity to contribute to the local community by creating employment and skills development opportunities. We reached out to the John Howard Society and through those discussions we added two of their clients to our team for full time employment during the 3 month course of deconstruction. Our experience with these types of partnerships on past projects suggests that at least one of the JH clients may remain on the team for construction of the project.

New construction is, by its very nature, consumptive of resources and unsustainable in terms of it’s environmental impact. By embedding sustainability into the decision-making process as a core value consideration we can make a series of small steps, like deconstruction and salvage, to minimize the impact of new construction.

Even the felled trees have been processed into lumber – for what use we don’t know yet but it’s better than making them into firewood.