Ever felt like an alien?

By Cheryl Sharp

One of my first tasks after joining TRP in July, 2005, was to go to jobsites and offices and introduce myself to San Diego area contractors and architects. I've had a lot of experience working with the public, but I have to tell you, this was the first time I actually felt like an alien in my own country. Yes, you read right, it seemed as though I was speaking a foreign language as I attempted to educate people regarding deconstruction and TRP's mission of salvaging and redistributing building materials. Eventually I realized that convincing them would require experience in the field. With experience, I could show people photos of jobs we had successfully finished.

Now that I have completed many projects in Southern California, those same contractors and architects, who used to look at me as though I were from a different planet, have grasped the concept of deconstruction and are recommending it to every client contemplating a remodel, complete gut or tear-down.

My first project was in Rancho Santa Fe -- a 14,000 square-foot complete gut, with hanging lights too big to put in the back of a truck, and an aquarium I could scuba dive in, along with many beautiful items that were delivered to Habitat for Humanity in Gardena. That was a real eye-opener for me and just the beginning of a long line of projects, each connecting me with a unique homeowner.

The homeowner is the one who makes the ultimate choice: to do a straight demo, which negatively impacts the environment, or to deconstruct, which helps TRP fulfill its mission, employs contractors and workers in meaningful work and sends so many wonderful materials to the TRP warehouse in Pacoima and Habitat for Humanity in San Diego, where people are just waiting for the trucks to arrive. We also ship lumber into Mexico for housing. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved.

I really have to hand it to this organization. It is a wonderful thing we are all involved in, and the clients I have worked with over the years have all been ecstatic about seeing how deconstruction works, and amazed when they watch it happening. They have an opportunity to see that, yes, we do take all those clay tiles from the roof and save every one of them. And, yes, we save all the doors, windows, hardwood flooring, and appliances. Some are awestruck when they witness the process actually happening. Then when we start de-nailing the lumber and stacking it in units, homeowners find out how many tons of lumber have been salvaged (16 units from a Point Loma house are shown in the accompanying photo). They are incredibly pleased to know that they are helping others get the materials they need to complete projects, or add vintage items and modern appliances to their homes.

Now that a lot more green building is going on in San Diego, I am excited to work with contractors and homeowners to do the right thing -- start projects with deconstruction. I have some beautiful items coming from a La Jolla home and a Rancho Santa Fe home in the next two months, so look for photos in TRP's monthly newsletter and on the website.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have chosen to deconstruct with TRP, those who plan to do so in the near future, and those who have recommended our services. Also the certified contractors who have done such wonderful work for our homeowners.

If at first you fail to grasp the concept of deconstruction, don't worry, you will. I'm no longer speaking an alien language.

Cheryl Sharp is Regional Manager of Orange and San Diego Counties, Temecula and Riverside

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