Recycling hits home

Materials go from one home to the next

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— At first glance, it appears an older home in Dakota Ridge with ski area views is being torn down to construct someone's dream home.

That is only half true.

Instead of demolishing the house and hauling off the waste, the building contractor chose to hire a team to salvage as much of the home as possible.

Valuable engineered beams are being removed. So are lumber, fixtures, carpet, oak floors, copper piping, windows and doors. Even the garage door opener will be salvaged.

"I've done a whole lot of remodels where we do a lot of demolition, but this is a lot different," said Jack White, who is usually a builder but has dubbed himself a "deconstruction contractor" for this job.

About half the material from inside the house will be salvaged and transported to Home Resource in Milner. The company's founder, Dave Epstein, will sell the materials to people by appointment.

Epstein stores a lot of the salvaged materials at the Twin Enviro Services Landfill near Milner. Building Home Resource has been a volunteer effort, Epstein said, and the landfill's owner has been essential in getting the company started. Owner Les Liman hired Epstein to work full-time as a technical sales and marketing manager, but Epstein also spends a lot of time building inventory for Home Resource.

Liman has been essential in getting Home Resource started, Epstein said, by providing a base for Home Resource since it moved to Milner in October.

He has a couple of trailers filled with things that cannot be stored outside. Liman has pledged $5,000 to build a permanent enclosed structure for the nonprofit company, along with the land, but Epstein said that is only about half of what is needed to open a showroom and have regular business hours.

The Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley is the sponsor for Home Resource's nonprofit status.

Epstein said Home Resource should remain nonprofit but that he would like the company to eventually make enough money to support a few full-time employees.

The Community Alliance has made raising money for the salvage company one of its main goals for the year.

"This is something we feel can happen real quickly and have a lot of potential," said Rich Levy, a Community Alliance board member.

Levy said local builders and contractors will be the focus of fundraising efforts.

"Everyone in the community benefits because we are putting product back in the community for resale," Epstein said.

Epstein started Home Res--ource almost three years ago after he noticed the amount of wasted building material in Steamboat.

He is trying to build a deconstruction and salvage industry that would create jobs and volunteer opportunities. He thinks Home Resource is the only such option in Northwest Colorado.

Epstein envisions more contractors hiring "deconstruction contractors."

"From our end, we're going as far as the economics make sense," said Ric Ostrom, general contractor with MEO Construction and Management. He is the contractor building a multimillion-dollar spec home to replace the 6,400-square-foot home on the Dakota Ridge lot.

It can make sense financially to take apart a structure, because the materials can be donated to Home Resource and can be written off on taxes as a donation to a nonprofit organization. It will cost about $25,000 to rip out all the materials at the Dakota Ridge home, but less material will need to be disposed of when the salvage is complete, which means savings on landfill and hauling costs.

"A lot of it has to do with just feeling good about it," Ostrom said. "Most contractors don't consider it might actually save them money."

The salvage allows people to purchase construction materials -- some virtually new -- at about half the cost. This is especially important, Epstein said, as more affordable housing is built. People constructing homes through affordable-housing programs have been buying materials from the company, Epstein said.

Even if builders do not want to hire a crew to take apart a house, Epstein said, there are still steps contractors can take to save money and keep good materials from ending up in a landfill.

Because Home Resource is at the only landfill in the area, the business can salvage anything that is hauled in as trash. If contractors spend some time sorting their materials into Dumpsters, it makes it easier for Epstein to collect them for salvage. Donating materials to Home Resource is free, saving contractor on dump charges.

"It's a great idea," said Ostrom, who has been a contractor in the area for about 20 years. "All the thinking is good. Implementing it is the tough part."

-- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210 or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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