It's a sure bet that most businesses in our industry would jump at the chance to lower insurance costs, employee turnover and training demands, while at the same time improving their image and reputation. Well, as an 18-year veteran of the deconstruction industry, a licensed demolition contractor in California and a former general contractor, I've learned that improving safety is one of the surest ways to accomplish all of those aspirations.

How to Appraise Your AppraiserThis month I'm announcing the opening of two new partner retail-warehouses, one in Durham, North Carolina, and the other in West Haven, Connecticut. Both of these establishments have relationships with TRP that allow them to provide tax-deductible donation receipts for materials dropped off at their stores. In addition, both are eager to help homeowners, architects and contractors connect with local TRP-certified deconstruction contractors who can provide full-service deconstruction (as an alternative to demolition) on building-removal and remodeling projects.

How to Appraise Your AppraiserIt never fails. When a new business model is developed based on an older, established model, two things happen. First, older, entrenched businesses attempt to discredit, and in some cases demonize, the new model. Second, unscrupulous faux organizations spring up to make a quick buck off unsuspecting customers, even if it means flaunting the law.

Intelligent Expenditure of Tax DollarsTRP recently participated in a well conceived government program in Kansas City, MO, designed to relieve blight and recover reusable materials from abandoned homes. While this deconstruction program will continue for 18 more months, the people involved in its creation and successful kickoff deserve early recognition.

Important Lessons Learned from IRS AuditIn 2008, the Internal Revenue Service recognized "Deconstruction" as a discrete program. This allowed its offices to begin auditing nonprofit organizations that accept tax-deductible donations of materials salvaged from deconstruction operations. The ReUse People is one of the most prominent organizations in the industry, so it was no surprise when TRP received an audit letter in January 2009.

Road and AirI started the month of May in Sacramento, working with TRP Area Manager Kristin Williams and Larry Liedelmeyer of the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps (SRCC), a YouthBuild affiliate. Larry and the SRCC have become certified TRP trainers, and recent graduates of Larry's deconstruction training classes are using their skills to soft-strip dozens of houses at Beale Air Force Base.

Yale University Marsh HallIf you are interested in building-materials salvage and/or deconstruction -- and your subscription to this e-letter tells me you are -- then you should check out the Building Materials Reuse Association DECON ‘11 conference and, if possible, attend. This year’s event is May 15-19 on the campus of Yale University, New Haven CT. To learn the particulars, visit www.BMRA.org

In addition to outstanding sessions, speakers and exhibitors, the Yale campus alone is worth a visit. Walking the campus and surrounding area is like taking a trip back in time. The architecture of the university buildings and adjacent residences is breathtaking. As a deconstruction practitioner and salvager of building materials I practically drool.

The ReUse HausOver the past few years, the perception of the backyard shed has slowly been changing. No longer merely a "mini-barn" for the storage of lawn mowers, tools, pool supplies and broken bicycles, contemporary backyard structures are designed to serve any number of practical (or frivolous) purposes.

Giving Building Materials a Second LifeAs a baby boomer who has spent over 35 years in the architectural and real estate development professions, I'm aware that the current economic downturn has made many of my peers revaluate where they are going in both their personal and professional lives. Some have regretfully waived the defeat flag and headed for retirement. Others have reinvented themselves in second careers, and in so doing given themselves exciting new lives.

In an analogous rebirth, perfectly good building material that once would have been buried in a landfill is now enjoying a second life through creative reuse.

TRP is expanding again, this time at the home office. In December we opened a second warehouse at our Oakland facility, adding 9,000 square feet to our retail complex. The new building is about 60 feet from the original warehouse, adjacent to our 6,000 square-foot lumber yard.

Why add more rent and personnel costs in recessionary times? Quite simply, we want to increase sales and need more space to do it. TRP prides itself in keeping more materials out of landfills than do most used building-material retailers. This requires that we accept a wide range of inventory, including more mundane items like single-glazed windows and hollow-core flush doors. If we reduced our inventory of lower-value items to make room for more high-value materials, no additional space would be required (at least for now). However, excessive cherry-picking goes against our mission.

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