Sellwood TV star recycles house – board-by-board!

She’s not saving just a lighting fixture or faucet – read how Shannon Quimby plans to save every piece of a dilapidated house to build a brand new home on the same lot …

“This is the first step toward the ‘rebirth’ of this house,” says Shannon Quimby as she starts dismantling the home on SE Rex Street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Sellwood’s “queen of recycling and reusing”, Shannon Quimby, is famous for sharing her “Q-Renew” projects with a nationwide audience in books, articles, and on TV’s Home & Gardens Network. She’s also a former Board member of the SMILE neighborhood association in Sellwood and Westmoreland.

“My whole purpose, what I’m all about, is being a responsible homeowner by recycling and reusing,” says Quimby.

Shannon Quimby, flanked with the architects for the project, Peter Brevic and chief architect, Laura Migliori, have created the plan for a new house that will incorporate every piece of the original home they’re dismantling on the site.

As she stands, crowbar in hand, at the site of her latest and perhaps most ambitions project on Nov. 28, Quimby quips, “Well, I’ve really done it this time! I’ve found the greatest challenge of my career – to take a dilapidated house and attempt to reuse 100% of it in my new home construction project.”

Recycling an entire house
She says it all started as a remodeling project of a modest 660 sq. ft. house in Westmoreland, at 2022 SE Rex Street. “From the foundation on up, we found out the house couldn’t be saved. I didn’t want to bulldoze it and put it in the dump. More than half the content of landfills is construction waste.”

Quimby says she speculated, “What if we recycled the entire house into a new one at the same location?”

Thus was created the “REX Project“, Quimby tells us, at the project’s groundbreaking – or we should say “housebreaking” – gets underway.

“It’s on SE Rex Street so we’re calling this our ‘Reuse Everything eXperiment’,” notes Quimby.

A new construction concept
As far as she knows, Quimby says, never before has each and every part of a building been recycled into a new structure at the same location. “Even the landscaping will be reused. The camellias, laurel wood – everything will be reused in the same form, or different.”

Everything, even the foundation, siding, and lumber will be used in the new house, assures Quimby. “We’ve even had an idea of what we’ll do with the lath and plaster. We haven’t figured out everything – we’re asking for help from the community to help us meet our goal of 100% recycling. I’d like to see all the dumpsters at remodeling and building sites in our neighborhood disappear. My goal is to see all homeowners and contractors take this approach.”

At the REX Project kick-off, Shane Enicott, Rebuilding Center Deconstruction Services, says he’s fascinated by Quimby’s 100% material reuse concept.

Regional educational project
Shane Enicott’s crew from Rebuilding Center Deconstruction Services has the job of dismantling, sorting, and storing – on site – the REX house.

“METRO says 75% of a structure can be recycled,” reports Endicott. “We can normally save 85% of a house. But when Shannon said she wanted to save the entire home, from the roof into the basement, it opened our eyes to more possibilities to what could be done. This project can be an education for the whole region, perhaps the world.”

Even though the home will be larger, Quimby says they plan to reuse and recycle all landscaping on the site. Two weeks after this photo was taken, the house was completely dismantled.

Open for idea exchange
Although you might see this project highlighted on HGTV, the project isn’t a closed movie set. “We’re inviting the community in to suggest ways we can reuse everything – even the “Hot Wheels” race track mounted on the living room ceiling.”

Additionally, the site will be open for what she calls Saturday Seminars, as the house is being rebuilt. She plans to hold “Kids’ Classroom” sessions so young students can watch – and participate in – this unique project.

Ambitious schedule set
Quimby says the project must be completed by June, 2008. “And, we’re already on board to be featured in the Oregon Builder’s Association ‘Ultimate Open House Tour’ in April. We hope to be 80% completed by then, but still be able to show how materials are being reused.”

Check back; we’ll keep you updated on the progress of Shannon Quimby and her REX team.

As the work gets underway, dry rotted wood is uncovered. It doesn’t phase Quimby. “It can be composted into the soil. There are some things we already know how we’re going to reuse; other things, right now, we don’t have a clue. But we’re going to do it.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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