To make room for new housing, Portland, Ore., is clearing out its old stock. But the city can’t just bulldoze century-old homes: Those houses have valuable materials in them (vintage fixtures, bricks, and glass), and teardowns harm the environment and create an eyesore for the neighborhood.
CityLab reports that instead of demolishing homes built before 1916, Portland is mandating deconstruction, which is the careful dismantling of a building.
Deconstruction is neater, quieter, and leads to the recycling of scrapped material. The process is more expensive and time-consuming, though.
At first glance, the labor costs make deconstruction more expensive than demolition. In most cases, though, the tax benefits more than pay for deconstruction—the value of salvaged materials, which can be donated for tax credit or saved for reuse in later projects, is typically thousands of dollars greater than the cost difference between deconstruction and demolition.