Dwell Home Venice: Part 5

Dwell Home Venice: Part 5

By Michael Sylvester
In this series, Sebastian Mariscal designs a home in Venice, California, that brings the outside in. We track the project from start to finish with future resident Michael Sylvester. Part 5, June 2011: Deconstruction and Site Preparation. Deconstruction precedes construction as we dismantle an old cottage to make way for our new home.

We have our demolition permit from the city and so now it's time to deconstruct the existing cottage that is on the site. 

Deconstructing at a rapid pace.

With deconstruction our plan is to take the house apart (instead of demolishing it) and donate the reclaimed materials to The ReUse People who will then sell and distribute them to the public. For this purpose, we retained an expert deconstruction dppraiser, Floyd Sparks from Property Pros. Floyd took an hour to inspect the little cottage and make notes on the types of construction and any fixtures and fittings that were going to be donated. For example, we donated the kitchen appliances since we would not be using these in the new home. 

The windows have been removed and most of the roof is now dismantled. Next the hardwood floors will be gently lifted.

The final value of the donated materials is calculated after the items are delivered to The ReUse People. This determines the tax deduction we will receive for the donation. However, Floyd was able to give us a general idea of the donation cost per square foot up front. Once the final appraisal is completed we will receive the important IRS form 8283 (non-cash charitable contributions) which will have signatures from both the The ReUse People non -profit and the appraiser.

Windows, doors and cabinets are stacked on the driveway. Lumber is sorted into piles according to size and type. The large front yard acts as a staging area.

For the physical deconstruction we’ve hired Duncan Elliott from RER, Inc. Duncan does both traditional "wrecking ball" demolition and also deconstruction, so he can look after the parts of our site that cannot be salvaged, such as digging up a concrete driveway and also the gentle removal of hardwood floors so they can be reused.

Sorted lumber ready for collection.

The electrical meter and fuse box is attached to the last piece of house standing. Soon the electrician will disconnect these and install a temporary power pole at the perimeter of the job site, then this final piece of house will be removed.

Our biggest frustration with this phase of our project was with the gas company who took over two weeks to disconnect the gas service at the street. All of our other utilities were disconnected and removed within 48 hours of our request. The gas company shut off service promptly but would not come out and disconnect and cap the service at the street. Until this was done we could not start the deconstruction process.

The cleared site after everything has been removed. No more cottage. Note the protective fence around the pine tree in the background.


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