Comment of the Day: In Search of Gentle Demolition

COMMENT OF THE DAY: IN SEARCH OF GENTLE DEMOLITION “Serious question here. I live in what is basically a future tear-down. It was my first house purchase 20 years ago, and I’m still in it. It’s a remuddled 30s-40s bungalow that looks like someone hired their brother-in-law to do the work, and it was previously a rental before I bought it. I’ve been resisting doing anything major to it because I have been actively looking for a ‘real house’ for quite a while now. It has the original 3″ oak floors that probably still have quite a bit of wear left in them, seeing as they haven’t been sanded and refinished very many times (only once in the last 20 years, and probably not more than once before that). It has an awesome counterweighted attic door that rolls down instead of unfolding. The bathroom sinks are older than I am (they’re dated on the bottom). The vintage 6-gallon-flush toilets might be desired by someone. Certainly the scrap metal inside the walls could fetch some bucks. So there might be some parts worth saving. But how do I find someone to deconstruct it, when that time comes?” [GoogleMaster, commenting on Comment of the Day: Used House Parts Scouting Report]

11 Comment

  • I would be happy to come in and reclaim any wood that is useful. We I work with a demo crew I usually come in a day or 2 before and take out the useful wood (your floors sound great!) then the demo folks come in and knock down the rest.

    You can also look at Historic Houston – the offer a paid demo service where they reclaim as much as possible.

    If you are interested in letting me reclaim some of your nice old wood, email me at

  • Check with Habitat for Humanity (North Harris County) or the recently re-formed Historic Houston to get estimates for the cost of deconstructing your old house. I used both of their services within the last 2 years (since Habitat will salvage fairly “new” building materials such as light fixtures, ceiling fans, light switches, etc. that are just a few years old) and Historic Houston can salvage the older materials (wood flooring, brick, windows, etc.). You should be aware that each service comes at a cost (that will be tax deductible) and extends your demolition time pretty significantly… a few weeks versus 1 day for straight demo. They’re both great services, but you need to be aware of the differences before you start any construction, since deconstruction will impact your schedule somewhat.

  • If the value doesn’t exceed the cost of reclaiming, then that’s a good sign that it’s bound for the dump. If I have to pay someone to take my materials, that says a lot about their value.
    I tried to get someone to take out my wood floors (and keep the wood in return) and got nothing. So I had them taken out and put into a big pile for someone to take for free. Nothing.
    My guess is people are more in love with the IDEA of reclamation than the act itself. When push comes to shove, no one shows up. I guess it’s akin to the historic home that no one wants to see blown up, but no one wants to buy to save.

  • I still wish we had an attic fan.

  • The attic fan that was in our house is now in a giant plywood box on the back patio, where it serves to keep us cool in the Summer.

  • Check out Owner/operator also operates a reclamation service. This guy is a certified Renaissance Man.

    Mailing Address:
    Tiny Texas Houses, LLC
    20501 East I-10 Luling, TX 78648

  • i decided to go with the one day demo earlier this year because it was to costly to have historic houston or habitat come out. we did give away everything that had value before the excavator showed up. my house was built in 1936.


  • I build houses in the Heights and we use reclaimed hardwood floors in my projects all the time. I have the floors installed and refinished turn-key so I have no idea where they get the wood from, but I have to assume from some old houses somewhere! They are never short of the stuff, which looks great refinished, so I guess they actively source their materials. You might want to try giving Abraham Floors a call when you’re ready to demo.

  • C.L. That’s great stuff!
    “We can do the salvage work for you in exchange for the materials in the old structure, thus saving you thousands of dollars of waste removal and disposal fees. We carefully disassemble the structure, saving for re-use everything with the exception of nails and broken glass and toxic items (plastics, asbestos shingling, etc). “

  • Awesome! Thanks for all the suggestions. I’m not at the ready-for-demo stage yet, but I’ll save all these ideas for when the time comes.