on salvage

as i continue to explore designing around and building with salvaged materials, i continue to bump up against both the synergy and magic that can arise as well as the challenges and conundrums. now that the siding is installed on the two long walls of ps1, i feel pretty wowed by how beautiful and special salvaged wood, specifically, can be. but i also feel challenged by how much extra time in sourcing, processing, processing, processing, and using salvaged wood has added to the construction timeline.

it gives me insight into why so many building materials end up in the construction dumpsters… it’s not necessarily because folks don’t care about resource use and conservation. often there simply isn’t the budget to pay for the labor required to manage and process leftovers, scraps, recyclables and the like.

likewise, though the salvaged wood and other materials certainly exist to make a bigger showing in our buildings, construction projects, and the built environment; folks who hire craftspeople and workers to realize building projects have a hard time justifying the extra costs incurred in the extra labor to their clients. so, cheaper, more easily available and dimensionally reliable materials get chosen and used. the savings can be significant.

i would estimate that my choice to use solely salvaged wood for the exterior siding and trim added approximately 2-3 weeks to the project so far. of course, i’m doing all the work myself, which affords me a bit of luxury here. which is fortunate because i think the extra effort is well worth it. the results speak for themselves. the texture, beauty and uniqueness of these old growth timbers and boards, with their telltale radial saw marks, paint traces and stains add a quality to this pocket shelter’s appearance and feeling that is hard to put a price tag on.

whether or not the next pocket shelter will get the same 100% salvage treatment for it’s cladding will depend on the desires and values of whoever ends up commissioning ps2.

One thought on “on salvage”

  1. Your project is inspiring! We are still completing a porch rebuilding for our tiny house and though I had good intentions of using as much recycled/reclaimed materials as possible, I ended up going almost entirely with new stuff — I found I simply didn’t have the time to source and prepare more than a tiny fraction of the supplies needed. A few small items were recycled from the old porch like vent screens, some sheathing, a bit of the trim and furring strips. The best I managed overall was to use T&G flooring ends for the porch floor (also cheaper, but requiring a lot more work to install than full pieces), replacement cedar shiplap siding made from glued ends, and FSC lumber where I could.

    Your comment about being wowed by how special reclaimed wood can be rings true also. I created a wavy redwood fence for our house using all reclaimed fence and framing materials that I cleaned, trimmed and planed. It took a lot longer than just purchasing new materials, but much more soul-satisfying. I enjoy the fence every time I look at it.

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