HURRICANE, W.Va. -- A dilapidated house in Hurricane is being taken down, but not by a bulldozer. Instead, it's being deconstructed piece by piece as part of Sarah Halstead's effort to make her home state more environmentally friendly.
"It's a hip concept," said Halstead, the executive director of WVGreenWorks. "It's all about reclaiming and reusing as much as possible and diverting as much as possible from the landfill."
WVGreenWorks, which is dedicated to, among other things, creating sustainable, green jobs in local communities, is partnering with The ReUse People of America, based in Oakland, Calif., in a business venture, which will deconstruct buildings in West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and parts of Pennsylvania, rather than simply demolish them.
The first regional deconstruction process of the joint effort began Tuesday at a house on Victorian Place in Hurricane.
"We're hoping this professional approach to deconstruction will give municipalities and homeowners doing remodels more choices and more options on how to deal with construction and demolition debris," she said. "Really, it presents a whole new chance to shift your mindset. Most people will just 'doze a building, but when you take a look at the materials involved, some of that lumber you'll never find again."
Halstead said the idea is innovative around the area. She said she corresponded with Ben Newhouse, the Hurricane city manager, before the city recently installed solar panels at the wastewater treatment facility.
"It's a new concept for the folks I'm working with in Hurricane," she said. "I've worked with Ben Newhouse in the past, and he's a forward thinker."
Halstead said she talked with Newhouse about the deconstruction business.
"I called Ben and he said, 'Oh what a shame, we just demolished a house and we're about to bulldoze another,'" she said. "I said, "Please don't do it.' He said the house was really old, with a tile roof and hardwood floors."
The man who owns the house told Halstead he wanted the house demolished, and she said he didn't recognize that the materials could be reused.
"I told him, 'You've got a tile roof worth thousands of dollars,'" she said. "Why throw away perfectly good materials other people can use?"
Newhouse is excited about the possibility of recycling materials that otherwise would be thrown out, he said.
"If there's an opportunity to save the stuff that's in this house, which has a ton of oak and cherry woods in it, I said, 'Let's do it,'" he said. "That stuff is expensive, and there's no reason to send it all to the landfill."
Halstead said some people who qualify based on their income can receive a tax-deductible donation for reusing the materials. She said the donation deduction oftentimes will offset the labor costs, which are usually about 5 percent more than what it costs to demolish a building.
"Before we do any kind of deconstruction work, even if it's a kitchen remodel, we come and completely inventory everything," she said. "We then send pictures and descriptions off to a certified IRS building-material appraiser, and they write back and give us a range of value."
Materials taken from the three-story brick house in Hurricane will be donated to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Charleston.