We Blow our Carbon Footprint

Before I share some awesome shots of house demolition, I need to expiate my guilt by going over the factors behind our decision to wreck.

For three years, we tried to figure out how to salvage the unsalvageable. As I mentioned in my last post, we had pretty much everyone who has ever held a hammer in the region and many who have not, come through to give advice about whether we could save “Old Gray”.

As one person after another dug into the walls to examine the skeleton of the house to see if we could peel back to the bones and rebuild, it was hard to miss the fact that there was basically no skeleton. To give an example of the poor craftsmanship of this house, the 2″ x 6″ roof rafters were three feet on center. In our house our roof rafters are 2″ X 12″ and are a foot on center. Basically, what this skimpy building style meant was that when our friend Scot MacLeay put his excavator scoop on top of the roof of Old Gray, she quickly fell down.

And even as Scot worked to keep the floor intact during demolition so that he wouldn’t have to scoop up extra stuff from the basement, in the big part of the building, the floor immediately collapsed. Moments later, as rotten carpeting was removed, the floor was revealed to be made of something resembling thick cardboard, resting on collapsed punky cross beams held up by rotten logs in a swamp hole.

Perhaps I have indicated sufficiently why no one wanted to salvage anything from this house, even when everything was offered for free.

So, after three years of paying $3,000 taxes on a house no one could safely spend an hour in, let alone inhabit, it was time to let the whole thing be carted away by some nice guys wearing shirts that said RECYCLE on them. What exactly they meant by the phrase, we did not ask, though the amount of inspections and hoop jumping involved in getting permission to have these guys take the house away made it clear that it was all very legal, if also very sad that a whole house could be of such little value as to be destined for dumpsters.

The truth is, that while I thought I used clothe diapers on my four kids in order to keep our landfills emptier, I was really just saving space for Old Gray. As the house seems mostly to have been made of vermiculite insulation and paper wallboard, I hope it will compost down as well as those diapers would have. Maybe even better.

But let me leave wishful thinking behind to cheer you up with some action shots.

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Scot’s first couple of swipes brought down one end of the building.
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The white powder filling the air was ground paper used for insulation in the walls. It kept blowing in on Scot in his excavator, making for less than pleasant conditions.

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Jim and Will left school during lunch hour to visit with Scot. Jim had considered spending a summer taking the place down stick by stick with help from Will. Here they agree what insanity that would have been. William wants me to point out the toilet holding strong on the second floor.

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When Scot got down to the foundation, the nicest part of the building, he pulled out the rocks for us to reuse.

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Within hours of demolition, local stone masons were at the site angling to buy the rocks, even going so far as taking pictures for their “files”. We politely declined all offers on the rocks as we do want to use them eventually for whatever happens here on this land in the future. Maybe one of our kids will build here someday? Plans for Ben to camp out in the place were mercifully scraped years ago when he got free housing with his teaching job.

In the meantime, I hope to plant the whole spot with flowering Thyme. It will be a gift to our bees and somehow feels like the right way to thank “Old Gray” for having been all that she could be.

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