This month we've put out a call to readers, architects, designers and all DIY'ers to share their green home building or renovation projects with us so we can learn from their experiences! Mica sent us her salvaged storage shed renovation which is currently underway. Check out our interview with her all about the process below the jump:
Tell us about this home building or renovation project.
About 3 years ago, my partner Frank and I purchased 5.5 acres in a tiny little Vermont town. Other than a rickety old storage shed, the land was completely raw. No well, no electricity, no septic. Frank has been in the building trades for years. In that time of renovations, demolitions and indecisive homeowners, there have been countless salvageable materials that were headed to the dump. It was painful for him to see useful items discarded. My brilliant better half has saved these items from the landfill and stored them in whatever covered containers he could find—trailers, old buses, hoop huts and big blue tarps. Just when I thought I couldn't take the pack-rat anymore, the transformation began. The piles of stuff have become (or rather, are becoming, as we have not finished the house yet) a mudroom, kitchen, dining room, living room, 2 bedroom, 1 full bath/2 half bath home for our family. I can't say that every single nail, electrical outlet and 2x4 has come from a salvage project but the amount of salvaged material is well over 70%. Maybe more.
What specific green materials, techniques, or processes went into this project
Rather than tearing down the original shed on the property, it was gutted, cleaned and renovated to become part of our living room. The building materials for the whole house are mostly salvaged, going beyond just lumber and windows. The mudroom is formed from old wooden lockers that were salvaged from a local college. The flip-down chairs in the mudroom are salvaged from a movie theatre renovation. The granite countertop in the kitchen was hours from being hammered into tiny pieces and trashed. The list goes on... Insulation is blown in cellulose and spray foam which paired with radiant heat will be incredibly efficient. From the standpoint of technique and process, Frank has built this entire project on his own. There has been very little subcontract help and as a result he has the luxury of overseeing each piece, using it to it's utmost potential. The waste created by this project has been little to none. Saving items from heading to the landfill on the front end and then continuing that theme on the back end.
What green building material or product were you most pleased about?
Personally, I am most pleased with the beautiful beams that frame the kitchen wall. Not sure what Frank's favorite part is. He doesn't know I'm sending this into you!
What had you less than enthused?
Again, from a personal standpoint: building a house from recycled materials, while also building it on your own, is an incredibly sloooooow process. As you can see from the photos I've submitted, this is a 3 phase process. The final slab that needs to be framed will house the dining room on the first floor and the master bedroom above. Although stage 3 still needs to be framed, we are still not entirely done with the finish work in stage 1. We are living in it while we build, to boot. It's been a long road and we're only half-way there, but I know it will be worth it in the end.
Have any advice for readers looking to green build or renovate their home?
If someone decided to take on a project like ours, my advice would be to remove any and all expectations of time and just accept that it will be finished when it's done!