Dismantled house provides a wealth of new home building materials

“HOUSE RECYCLING” PROGRESS REPORT: We’re checking in again with Ms. Q-Renew as she continues her project of recycling an old, dilapidated house into a brand new home – located on the same lot …

The old house they dismantled on SE Rex Street had lath-and-plaster interior walls – they reused the lath to provide a “rain-screen” that provides an air space between the siding and the wall.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The house that Shannon Quimby — “Ms. Q-Renew” from HGTV — is building on SE Rex Street in Westmoreland is nearly finished.

“We tore down a house on the property,” Quimby reminds us when we visit.  “We’re infusing all the materials from the original house into our new one – and we’re doing it without a Dumpster.”

Old walls into new rain screen
“In older construction here in the Westmoreland area, many of the houses’ interiors featured lath and plaster,” says Quimby. “Lath is the thin wooden boards that made up the framework over which plaster was spread.”

Instead ripping it all out, they carefully salvaged the lath boards, she says. “It took me three days to pull out all the nails! They’re becoming a ‘rain-screen’.”

She explains that a rain screen goes between the outer siding and the inner portion of the house.  “If any water seeps into the siding, it’ll vaporize before it hits the side of the house, preventing mold and mildew. The materials cost me zero dollars.”

Even the rock wool insulation was reused – it insulates the new fireplace flue.

New life for old insulation
Walking over the fireplace, Quimby shows us a bag of rock wool salvaged from the old house.

“It’s a natural mineral, and was standard insulation back in the 1930s. It is a fire retardant. Instead of throwing it in the dump, we put it around our fireplace flue.”

“I’ve always wanted a tree house,” says Shannon Quimby. “We’re building one from framing scraps and dismantled wood from our old house, for our six-year-old.”

Yard gets a bonus house
The spunky Quimby can’t resist showing off a “bonus house” – a new tree house. “We’re building it using a combination of the leftover framing materials, and dismantled wood from our old house.  I always had a dream of having my own tree house.  Now our six-year-old son will be able to have his own tree house.”

This new insulation technique decreases foam waste by 80 percent, Quimby says, as Rian Schmidt from Northwest Foam Home injects insulation under the plastic sheeting that contains it.

Novel insulating technique cuts waste
We next climb upstairs and watch as wall insulation is being installed. “They’re using a new technique that it decreases their waste of foam by up to 80%. By tacking plastic on the frame, and not allowing the foam to expand past the plastic, they use much less foam. Because they’re dedicated to reducing waste, it’s a perfect match for us.”

Home Tour brings many guests
“The ‘Ultimate Open House Tour’ wrapped up a couple of weeks ago,” Quimby mentions. “I was both amazed and pleased that nearly 2,000 people came by to look at how we’re recycling a house.”

Quimby says if builders and remodelers adopt their “no waste” techniques, their clients would save money while they help the environment. “Over 60% of our landfills are filled with construction materials, waste, and byproducts. We want to help build a better future for our children.”

Want to learn more? Check her web site at www.shannonquimby.com.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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