Role reversal part II

Habitat Matthews to tear down second house, makes home décor using salvaged materials

by Josh Whitener

After a successful first “deconstructing” experience in February, Habitat for Humanity of Matthews will begin tearing down a second house Saturday, May 5 to salvage materials that could bring the nonprofit thousands of dollars.

Habitat Matthews is known for building houses, not tearing them down. But earlier this year, the organization followed in the footsteps of other Habitat affiliates nationwide who have deconstructed homes, collecting discarded lumber, brick, metal and glass to sell and raise money.

The first deconstructed house was a 1949, 1,600-square-foot house located at 148 S. Fremont St. and the second will be the 1952, 1,100-square-foot brick and veneer house at 138 S. Fremont St. Habitat Matthews saw between 80 and 90 volunteers throughout the duration of the first deconstruction project, including teams from UNCC, Elevation Church and local Boy Scout troops, and Pruitt said they hope to see this kind of response from the community again.

Matthews Presbyterian Church donated both houses to Habitat. The church had been renting the houses and could use the lots for future expansion. The church considered selling the homes to buyers who would move them, or demolishing the homes themselves, but both had up-front costs, Rev. Bill Peterson said.

Partnering with Habitat was the right decision, he said.

“We thought that would be a big waste of material, just to demolish them ourselves,” Peterson said. “This is just a tremendous deal, we think. It gives Habitat some much-needed cash, and it gives us the opportunity to have those lots cleared and available for future needs.”

So far, the first home has raised about $4,500 for the nonprofit through metals taken to a recycling center, lumber re-sold to builders and items reconstructed from various materials and sold at the Matthews ReStore, 136 E. Charles St.

“We’re continuing to profit from materials we’re reconstructing,” Habitat Matthews construction manager Troy Pruitt said. “We’re trying to maximize our return, and it’s keeping a ton of material out of the landfills.”

Although the second home is a bit smaller than the first, Pruitt said he expects the project to take about eight weeks to complete – virtually the same amount of time as the previous endeavor – because of the large amount of brick.

“It’s going to be a bit more of a challenge,” Pruitt said. “We’ll probably have to take it apart one brick at a time, chip the mortar out of it. We want to actually salvage as much brick as possible.”

He said the brick could be used to build everything from fire pits and barbecue grills to fancy mailboxes. The lumber, all southern yellow pine, would be sold to builders as well as used to construct items to sell at the Restore.

Habitat Matthews used a handful of wood and other materials it can’t sell at the ReStore to create items, such as shelves, cabinets, flower boxes and an 8-by-8 utility shed behind the foundation of a future Habitat home on Crestdale Road. Glass salvaged from the house’s windows was used to make window sashes on cold frame “mini greenhouses.”

Each item is marked with the house’s address, making buyers aware they own a piece of Matthews history.

“We’re taking the materials that are usually undesirable and making something that is desirable and that people will like,” Pruitt said.

Building committee volunteer Dick Puryear, who has done a lot of the prep work on the items, said Habitat’s goal is “going green” and supporting a healthy environment.

“By reusing the materials, that’s part of the idea that we’re trying to support,” Puryear said. “I think it’s a good idea, plus the things are very handy.”

Last month, Habitat Matthews sold some of these created items at the Earth Day festival, raising about $575. Pruitt said the nonprofit plans to sell more at St. Matthews Catholic Church’s consignment sale May 19.

“We hope to make another $500 or so from that,” he said.

Want to help?
To volunteer or find out how you can help Habitat Matthews, call 704-847-4266.

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