Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Deconstructing An Old Kitchen So That it Can Be Recycled

A few years ago, we remodeled the master bathroom, recycling as much as possible of what came out, using recycled or reclaimed materials for nearly all of the interior finishes, choosing tile & counters from carbon-responsible sources, and using energy-conserving fixtures.

Now it was time for the big project, the kitchen! This project presented a number of challenges, sustainability-wise. With the project completed not too long ago, here's what we were able to do and what we learned about sustainability in kitchen remodeling. In this post, I will start with the demolition.

The house is over 50 years old, so the cabinets, while solid wood, were not up to today's standards. Countertops were laminate. Some of the appliances were older (none were original), but several were nearly new. All were quite servicable, and it was evident that the existing kitchen, which functioned fine, should be made available for reuse. We made sure our contract with the contractor doing the renovation/remodeling included a statement that we intended to save as much as possible of the existing kitchen and construction materials. They had to instruct their staff to be careful in removal so that items were not damaged.

At the suggestion of our designer, we contacted Second Chance, Inc., a non-profit building materials recycler in Baltimore, as well as an independent deconstruction appraisal company from Virginia, NoVaStar Appraisals.

NoVaStar sent an appraiser to the house, took detailed information on all of the contents of the kitchen and building parts that would be donated, along with photos.

Second Chance, Inc. scheduled a pickup, and our contractor removed the entire kitchen, putting it on tarps on the front lawn and covering it all with huge sheets of plastic until the pickup date. This included not only the cabinets and appliances, but windows, back door, storm door, lighting fixtures, wood flooring, and anything else that came out of the space being renovated.

The company receiving the donations, Second Chance, coordinated with the appraiser so that the appraiser had the complete inventory of what had been donated. During the next few months, they worked up a professional appraisal of all of the items that had been donated. This is required, if you want a tax deduction for the donation. NoVaStar emailed the full appraisal document along with a signed tax form 8283.

There is a substantial cost for the appraisal, but it is compensated by the deduction, and, there is more value in keeping the removed items out of a landfill and knowing that it can all be repurposed for someone else.

Next post, I'll discuss eco-friendly materials for the new kitchen.

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