Saturday, March 22, 2008

To the Dump

Some of you may find it odd that Eric and I once had a date at the dump, but it was then that I knew he was the one.  Seriously, for those of you that haven't been to your local landfill, it is quite the adventure.  If you are not one to recycle or believe that as a society we are creating more trash than we know what to do with, you MUST go.  There is a huge gaping hole in the ground that trucks literally back up into and dump out their garbage. Then it is flattened by heavy machinery, watered down and presto!.....out of sight, out of mind.  
About half way into our green building process, Eric and I realized that no one (subs, contractor, etc.) was going to sort and recycle our construction debris.  If we wanted it to happen, we had to do it ourselves.  It took several days to sort the pile of trash in our front yard into metal, cardboard/paper, glass, and clean wood.  The rest went into the dumpster and will eventually end up in land fill.   I would estimate we brought down our trash weight by 1/3 to 1/2 of what it would have been...a huge savings in dump costs as well as better for the environment.  

The bulk of our recyclables was clean wood which is put through a huge machine and made into wood chips for landscaping.  It took several attempts at the recycling center to learn the process. On my first trip, they said I had painted wood (not good).  On my second trip, they wanted to call haz mat because I had some pressure treated wood (also not good).  On my subsequent trips I was given the okay.  

Clean wood, as defined by San Diego, is not painted or treated (varnished or pressure treated) but it can have nails.  I have to admit, I like going to the dump, as do our kids.  There is something therapeutic about throwing large pieces of wood onto a huge pile and watching them shatter.  It is even cooler to know that we will be back in a few months to retrieve that same wood in the form of wood chips.  The cycle of life......

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lessons Learned

We just finished month 5 of the remodel process and this last month has brought a lot of joys as well as a lot of thorns.  Let's start with the good stuff.  I was able to locate all of our brick needs (about 2,300 of them) through Craigslist.  

Our first score was from a woman who was re-doing the hard scape of her 1960's home here in San Diego.  She was ditching her brick and putting in concrete.  So there I was at 6 am ready to load a whole lotta old brick (which almost matches our current chimney perfectly!) into our truck.  The contractor at that site did most of the work for us AND since he lived near us, agreed to drive a load to our place in his 1 ton truck.  See, not only is going green good for the earth, it promotes community!  He was as happy to see all the brick go to a new home as I was to receive it.

Our second score was getting brick veneer for all of our columns.  It was brand new, but a guy had a ton of overage so he agreed to sell it for about half its value.  Turns out he is installing a  drip irrigation system and doing a native landscape....I may come back to ask him some questions when we enter our landscape phase.  

Now for the bad news.....we've got mold and a lot of it.  Eric and I had a sit down with our contractor about what was within his control to manage and what wasn't (remember our roof has been off for 5 months now).  As it turns out, we are tearing down all of our existing plaster walls due to water damage/mold.  It totally sucks, but we all agree that it is better to deal with it now than downstream.  It is setting us back a few weeks, but in the end it is the right thing to do.  Note to future remodelers:  Never, I repeat never, take off a roof without securing the existing home beneath it.  And try not to remodel during the rainiest season ever!!!!!  The mold is making our "green" remodel take on a whole new meaning.

More bad news......we have had a series of thefts.  It seems par for the course in this area, but it still stinks.  They have taken (as in cut out) plumbing copper pipes, windows, and electrical copper wiring.  We've had a put in a claim to our insurance company and notify the police.  There isn't much you can do unless you catch them in the act.    In case you weren't aware, addicts have been recycling copper for decades.  The only problem is it wasn't theirs to begin with.  My brother has offered up his son and a bb gun to protect the property...thanks Tom.  

That is about all the negative I want to write about because it gets depressing.  Eric and I continue to enjoy this whole process and try to keep our eyes on the prize.  Don't sweat the small stuff, right???  Next post will highlight our trip to the dump.  I'm serious.