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Philadelphia Rowhouse Deconstruction Pilot Project

| Written by ILSR Admin | No Comments | Updated on Jul 19, 2003 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/philadelphia-rowhouse-deconstruction-pilot-project/

Summer 2003

ILSR conducted a Phase One deconstruction pilot project in cooperation with the City of Philadelphia Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI) during the summer 2003. NTI is a multi-year strategy for eliminating blight ad revitalizing communities in Philadelphia.

ILSR’s Jim Primdahl supervised the two City-chosen demolition contractors in the pilot project that resulted in the deconstruction of two abandoned row houses and a “soft skim” of a third house, a process that did not require any structural changes to the building.

Most of the deconstruction activities occurred from June 24 – July 15, 2003. The deconstruction workers successfully recovered a wide range of materials including panel doors, flooring, molding, fixtures, tiles, cabinets, and more from the three houses. As part of the disassembly phase, the workers removed more than 6,000 board feet equivalent of floor joists, and wall framing from the two houses. They then de-nailed the lumber on-site and assembled it for shipment to market.

ILSR received $2,518 from the sale of a wide range of architectural salvage items and lumber. The retail value of the materials recovered from the two deconstructed houses and a “soft skim” of the third was estimated to be about $8,000.

The Phase One pilot was successful in documenting the value of recoverable materials in the abandoned houses and the existence of markets for these materials. The high project labor costs were the result of several factors including the on-site processing, which was not cost-effective at the prevailing wage paid to workers on the project.

ILSR concluded that the incorporation of deconstruction practices as an economically viable component of the NTI demolition packages would require additional research in determining a cost-effective means to recover marketable lumber and bricks from the NTI houses.

The Sustainable Development Fund provided funding to document labor costs and recovered material value and to do an initial assessment of recovered material markets.

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