Habitat for Humanity furthers its mission with new Deconstruction Program.
Although it’s in the business of building homes, Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity (GDM Habitat) recently started a new program that does just the opposite. The ReStore Deconstruction Program offers a valuable alternative for homeowners and remodelers during the tear-out phase of a project.
According to Dylan Lyons, Marketing Coordinator at GDM Habitat, the idea came through other Habitat affiliates across the country. “Each state has its own Habitat affiliates,” he explains. “We’re given quite a bit of freedom to offer different programs and services as we’re able, depending on our community’s needs and size.”
The Habitat ReStore is one of those services, offering a place for area residents to donate and purchase usable building materials and appliances. Lyons says that was really the motivation for instituting the ReStore Deconstruction Program. “You watch those DIY shows on television, and people always seem to have fun taking a sledgehammer to their old cabinets and walls and things. But we look at that and think, ‘Someone else could use that. We could sell that in our ReStore.’”
Other Habitat affiliates around the U.S. had begun deconstruction programs, so the local group started researching the possibility in 2017. The goal was to salvage items that would otherwise be destroyed or discarded and generate revenue by selling those items at the ReStore. By the beginning of 2018, the ReStore Deconstruction Program was ready to tackle its first projects. “We started with kitchens initially,” says Lyons. “But we’ve expanded to bathrooms and other areas of the home, too.”
The program has salvaged items ranging from cabinetry and lighting to appliances and bathroom fixtures and tile. Habitat has a small number of paid staff who supervise the deconstruction projects. The jobs are handled primarily by a team of experienced volunteers.
“A standard kitchen only takes a few hours to complete, and we do a professional job, like any other contractor,” Lyons explains. “We cover everything, we clean up after ourselves, and we haul everything away.”
The ReStore Deconstruction Program works closely with homeowners and remodelers on a case-by-case basis to coordinate demolition and removal. “It’s a pretty simple process,” Lyons says. “The client submits an online form and can include photos to help us evaluate the project. Our Donation Manager determines whether it’s a viable project, and we schedule from there.”
Typically the team completes one or two deconstruction projects per week. Lyons says most jobs are scheduled within two to three weeks of initial contact.
Best of all, the program is a win-win for everyone involved.
“We do this free of charge,” Lyons says. “And we provide the homeowner or remodeler with a donation receipt itemizing the materials recovered. So they have that for tax purposes.”
The client receives free labor and a potential credit for taxes. The demolition is completed in a matter of hours by a skilled team that cleans up afterward. The remodeler can focus on skilled construction work instead of demolition. Habitat for Humanity receives goods and materials to sell in its store to generate revenue for future projects. And the end user who buys those materials at the ReStore can purchase good-quality items for less than the cost of new.
You won’t get to swing a sledgehammer against those cabinets you’re anxious to see gone. But you won’t have to sweat or clean up either. That’s definitely a win-win.