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Chatham Home Being "De-Constructed" Not Demolished

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CHATHAM COUNTY — A 170-year-old home is coming down in Chatham County, but you will not see any bulldozers or wrecking balls on the site, and the leftovers will not end up in a dump.

That is the difference between demolition and deconstruction. Those involved with the project hope it becomes the latest recycling trend in the Triangle.

"The idea of the whole project is to take everything down backwards from the way it was put up 170 years ago," said Pete Hendricks.

Hendricks is an archaeologist of sorts. He and his de-construction crews dig beneath the surface of old homes and discover beautiful treasures.

"This entire frame is pegged together," Hendricks explained. "There are no nails in the frame."

The timber in this home is builder's gold, straight grained heart pine.

"When you mill this stuff, it's just gorgeous. It's the most beautiful stuff you've ever seen, and there aren't any trees like this anymore. These trees were probably about 200-years-old when they were cut," Hendricks explained.

Seventy percent of the materials in the home will be saved and recycled.

"And of course the idea is to keep them out of the dump, because it would be such a shame to waste all this beautiful material. You can't buy this stuff anywhere," said Hendricks.

RAFI, a Pittsboro based organization that promotes family farms and sustainable agriculture, will turn the leftovers into a new office building on the site.

"Well it's very consistent with our values. One of the things we do is really try to keep the best of the traditions in agriculture and the relationships between people and the land," said RAFI Director Betty Bailey.

Keeping the best of tradition in this case means keeping a few extra dollars too. Hendricks says the process costs no more than demolition and dump fees.

"The difference is that when you're finished, we've got about between $20,000 and $30,000 worth of material sitting here ready to reuse," said Hendricks.

Hendricks says there are still many delapidated homes in the Triangle built in the 19th and early 20th centuries that will need to come down soon. The dumps can't hold them all.

Hendricks says he has many young employees who want to move on and start their own de-construction businesses.


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