Twigs turn into garden furniture at the “REX House Project”

Learn what surprisingly new information ‘Ms. Q-Renew’ has discovered – and is passing along – as she attempts to recycle every piece of an old SE Portland old house into a new one …

Sitting on a bench made entirely from hawthorn tree branches and siding removed from the old house, Shannon Quimby told us she’s glad an artist found a use for these items that most redevelopers would toss into a landfill.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
If Shannon Quimby has her way, the house she’s building at 2022 SE Rex Street in the Westmorland neighborhood won’t have a dumpster on the construction site. “If we have one, it won’t be very large,” she says.

As we’ve been reporting, instead of bulldozing the old house on the property, Quimby’s team dismantled the building, piece by piece, and has stored it in two large containers. Last month, they carefully moved mature trees – instead of cutting them down – to make way for the new home.

Quimby, who hosts “Q-Renew” shows on the Home & Garden TV Network, calls her project “REX” – for Reuse Everything eXperiment. “We’re recycling an old house into a new one, to show it is possible, and practical, to save building materials, instead of dumping them into a landfill.”

In front of the newly-poured foundation, Quimby reminds us that the massive holly tree they removed is being milled into open beams that will grace the house. “But we didn’t know what to do with the branches until an artist, Tim Boyden contacted us. He specializes in making garden furniture from reclaimed materials. He’s making benches, and trellises and tables for the project from our tree branches, old siding and floorboards.”

Quimby says this thin layer of concrete will keep the home warm and dry – and save $1,000 per year in energy costs.

Energy savings from the ground, up
We noted that the crawl space in the new home looked like a shallow basement.

“It’s called a conditioned crawl space,” Quimby states. “I don’t know why this isn’t a standard building practice. Over plastic sheeting, we poured a thin layer of concrete, and seal it where it joins the foundation.”

In addition to eliminating the possibility of mold, mildew and dry rot, Quimby adds, “The $1,000 it cost will cut our energy usage and bills by that amount every year! And, it will give us additional under-house storage space.”

Quimby invites neighbors to drop by and follow their progress as their project continues. Learn more by visiting

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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