WHERE OUR MATERIAL COMES FROM
Taking a historical home or building apart piece-by-piece allows for the preservation of beautifully aged, premium lumber, instead of losing it to the dump. This reduces both waste and carbon emissions from hauling demolished materials.
Neighborhoods have histories, and the materials from a historical home or building have absorbed the scent of the past. Unlike violent demolition, deconstruction preserves the materials and integrates them into newly developed homes, creating a visual continuity for the community.
Materials reclaimed from deconstruction can be resurfaced and reused for handcrafted home finishes and furniture pieces. Sledge aims to create as many end-products on site as possible to further reduce its carbon footprint.
Neighborhoods have histories, and the materials from a historical home have absorbed the scent of the past.
Deconstruction vs. Demolition
The way homes are typically demolished doesn't make sense. It takes a house and diminishes it to a huge, tangled mess of wood, metal, plaster, and plastic that inevitably dies in a landfill. Demolition is a bomb. From what was once a carefully constructed collection of assemblies and layers of materials, is left a pile of shrapnel. The process takes about 30 minutes.
In deconstruction, the assemblies are carefully taken apart. The layers are peeled off in reverse order of how the home was built. Salvaged materials are reorganized and separated for reuse. Deconstruction is the physical reconstitution of a house. It's an altering of its existence, not an end.
Of course, it takes an assembly of people to do the work. The construction of one average single-family home will employ 25 or more labor positions at different times for up to a year. There are also accountants, bookkeepers, banking employees, consultants, and city of Seattle land use planners and inspectors, all playing a role.
How do we deconstruct, store, and repurpose the material from a historic home? What kinds of interesting discoveries do we make a long the way? Read more about the Sledge process below the jump.
Sledge's end-to-end process, from deconstruction and
re-harvesting to manufacturing, breathes new life into the revived materials...
The Sledge Process
First, we create a plan. Since one of Sledge’s goals is to limit transportation of materials, we attempt to store and repurpose (a process we call "live milling") as many of the materials on site as possible. A staging area is designated, containers arrive on site, and the smaller interior finishes (like door knobs) are removed for later use in Sledge products.
At the same time, we research the history of the home, and invite neighbors to be part of our journey. We want to encourage people to ask what we are doing, how, and why, and make material available for them. Deconstruction can be a community building exercise. Letting your neighbors know you value the home, enough to take it apart and reuse it, defuses some of the anti-development attitudes many of us share.
The actual work of deconstruction starts at the top. First step is removing the roof assembly, followed by careful disassembly of the upper floors, and working our way down to the foundation. Materials are separated into piles and organized by type. Even the nails are pulled and collected for future creative uses.
Along the way, we often uncover a variety of discarded artifacts (vintage construction tools, for example) stashed in the walls and floors. Finds like these are documented and researched, and deepen our understanding of the home’s history. Stamps on salvaged wood can give us clues about where it came from. In one example, we were able to pretty confidently trace the milling origins of some stamped members back to a stand of trees in the area of present day Tukwila. Specifically, South Center Mall.