Volume 10, Number 3
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Focus: Regulations affecting Deconstruction & Reuse
DECON '16 Update
BMRA Activities Update
 Connecticut DEEP Celebrates first Demolition License for a Deconstructor

• How do Codes and Regulations Affect Resale and Reuse of Salvaged Building Materials?
Member Notes

DECON ’16 Update

Registration is open for the premier national/international conference on building deconstruction, salvage, and building materials reuse will be held in Raleigh, North Carolina February 29 to March 3,2016.  Industry professionals, policymakers and researchers will gather at the Hilton Doubletree Brownstone hotel in Raleigh for presentations, interactive discussions and networking.  Whether you are new to the issue of building materials reuse or a long-time pioneer in the field, this is a great opportunity to meet colleagues and learn about the state of the art.
The conference program is coming together, accepted speakers are being posted on a rolling basis.

Exciting new classes are being planned for the days just after the main conference.  The first is Added Value: A Hands-on Guide to Setting up your Reclaimed Wood Shop.  Full details available here.
Planning for DECON '16 includes efforts by working groups on a few topic areas of special interest.  Participation is invited on these working groups, if you have energy and time to commit to the meetings and tasks.  

1. The Appraisal Working Group will have its third meeting on Thursday December 17th at 1pm EST/ 12pm CST / 10am PST. Interested parties should contact the head of that group, Tom Napier

2. The Market Survey Working group will have its third meeting on Wednesday January 6th at 1pm EST/ 12 pm CST / 10 am PST, Interested parties should contact Anne Nicklin,

BMRA Activities Update

Training Committee Meeting – December 21st 12pm Central

2016 BMRA Awards nominations open until December 18.  Learn more here.

Impacts of Regulations on Deconstruction & Reuse:

Connecticut DEEP Celebrates first Demolition License for a Deconstructor

by Sherill Baldwin, Environmental Analyst at the Connecticut Department of Energy  and Environmental Protection

Connecticut, like many states, often has legislative language or definitions that create challenges for new ways, including more sustainable approaches of doing business.  One such example is deconstruction, the act of dismantling buildings that recovers as much of the building materials for reuse.  The challenge is that CT General Statutes Section 29-402 defines demolition to mean “any wrecking activity directed to the disassembling, dismantling, dismembering and/or razing of any structure”, which clearly could apply to deconstruction. What the definition lacks is the ‘how’ a building is dismantled (often carefully by hand) and the ‘why’ (to maximize reuse), which distinguishes deconstruction from conventional demolition.  

To engage in any demolition activity, a contractor is required to apply and receive a demolition license.  However, deconstruction contractors continually did not pass – for they were not demolition contractors, they were deconstruction contractors.

In 2009, CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection started conversations with the then CT Public Safety agency, now CT Department of Administrative Services (DAS)/Division of Construction Services (DCS), and the Office of the State Fire Marshal along with demolition, deconstruction and green building contractors, C&D recyclers, historic preservationists and environmentalists in an effort to identify how deconstruction contractors could engage in their craft legally.  Conversations continued for 2 years, culminating in the hosting of Decon ’11 with interest and support moving towards change.  However, with staff turnover and restructuring at DAS, the conversations ended until 2013, when DAS Deputy Commissioner reached out to DEEP and the CT Department of Economic and Community Development to reconvene conversations to identify solutions to the barriers of contractors gaining legal status to conduct deconstruction in the state.

While the definition doesn’t take into account that deconstruction has other environmental implications connected to energy conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as economic benefits including skill building and job creation, DAS staff recognized the need to support Connecticut’s goal to divert 60% of our waste stream by 2024 as well as to support job creation efforts.

At the core was how to determine if a deconstruction contractor has experience and understands the difference between structural and non-structural.  Non-structural dismantling, or soft-stripping, would not need a demolition license and could continue to be done under the Home Improvement Contractor license.  But how to determine the experience of a contractor who is not a General Contractor or does not have an engineering degree?

It was agreed that when applying for a demolition license for deconstruction, years of construction/carpentry/building experience, as well as experience as lead contractor in deconstruction projects in other states, would be considered as valid as years of conventional demolition experience. 

This year, Joe DeRisi of Urbanminers, who had worked in construction for almost 20 years, attended Brad Guy’s deconstruction training at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School and also has worked with Dave Bennink on projects in CT received his Demolition License.  Before receiving his Demolition License, Urbanminers was only able to provide soft stripping, deconstruction of non-structural buildings, barns and sheds or a full deconstruction when the building owner applied for the demolition permit or as a subcontractor with a demolition company.  Now, with a Demolition License in hand, Urbanminers is able to respond to RFPs directly offering deconstruction services and so far has easily doubled the number of full-deconstruction projects. 

Impacts of Regulations on Deconstruction & Reuse:

How do codes and regulations affect resale and reuse of salvaged building materials?

by Dirk Wassink, Editor, BMRA News

Building codes and other regulations for materials and fixtures used in particular applications in buildings are intended to improve safety and performance in buildings, and they mostly do a pretty good job at this.  Those who sell salvaged building materials need to pay some attention to codes if they want happy customers.  I’ve witnessed on a number occasions where a customer will get very excited about purchasing and using a salvaged item in their house, only to discover that the component fails muster in an inspection.  That turns into a return (if allowed at the business), and questions about "why didn’t you tell me that this would be a problem?"  That sounds a lot like a dissatisfied customer.  It would seem prudent to learn about some of the most common issues encountered by those reusing materials, in order to avoid repeating those problems.
Each local building department adopts its own version of building codes, and regulations affecting reuse of materials could come at federal, state, county, city or other local level.  As a good starting point, many jurisdictions adopt or adapt some version of International Building Codes.  Learn more at the International Code Council
Below are a few examples of codes and regulations which constrain reuse.
Water appliance flow limitations
There are some state and federal regulations which constrain the amount of water used by plumbing fixtures and appliances.  For example, federal regulations limit manufacture of toilets which use more than1.6 gallons per flush.  Urinals, faucets and shower heads all have standards (and in some cases strict requirements) limiting the maximum water flower rates.  Some state requirements are even more stringent.  For an overview of recent standards and requirements on water efficiency, click
here.  The legality of selling items that do not meet current standards may vary from state to state, even town to town, but reuse stores would be wise to learn what is allowed in their local area.  
Lead-free plumbing fixtures
A 2011 EPA regulation makes many older faucets illegal to sell for potable water use.  Learn more at the BMRA about this issue

Window energy codes
States and local building departments can adopt particular energy codes which specify minimum insulating values for windows. California, for example, has one of the more stringent
energy codes.
In many jurisdictions there can be a building design option which evaluates the overall energy efficiency of the building, while allowing certain components to perform below the standard level.  In this scenario, a builder could put a lower performing salvaged window, but make up for this by adding extra insulation or better windows elsewhere in the envelope.  Single pane windows can be made more insulating by adding storm windows; however, local codes should be consulted before exterior use of single pane windows in new construction.  Those are often best reserved for applications without energy concerns such as chicken coops, tree houses and interior decoration.
Structural use of salvaged lumber
When salvaged lumber is reused in a new structural application, how will a building inspector know that the lumber will be strong enough?  Salvaged lumber is generally not as strong as new lumber (see
this article for example).  The inspector may require re-grading of salvaged lumber, but this is not a well-established practice yet.  The structural engineer on a project has authority to examine materials for a project and accept or reject them.  In some jurisdictions, there is room for inspector discretion on evaluating suitability of salvaged lumber in an application.  In the City of Seattle, for example, an inspector may evaluate an assembly made with salvaged wood, and if it is somewhat overbuilt from what would be done with new wood, the inspector can deem it sufficient.  Reuse stores may find it helpful to talk with local building inspectors to learn what practices are allowed with salvaged lumber.
Railing requirements
Most building codes restrict openings in railings protecting an elevated area to a size which a 4” diameter ball cannot pass through.  Many older railings do not meet this requirement without modification.  
EPA Woodstove Certifications
The EPA sets emissions standards for new wood stoves and certifies stove models which meet these standards.  See the
current list here. 
Some jurisdictions, including Washington State, prohibit sale or installation of wood stoves which do not meet current emissions standards.
Door fire code
Doors in certain building applications must meet minimum requirements for resisting fire.  Learn more
In most cases NFPA labels are required on the doors in order for them to pass inspection in new construction.  Salvaged doors, even ones which would perform well in a fire, may not have a label that certifies them, and they would likely fail an inspection.
Lights - rewiring
Some jurisdictions require all electrical fixtures to be listed or certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).  Lots of shops do rewiring work on lights, and the vast majority of these do excellent work. However, only a small fraction are certified by Underwriters Laboratory and allowed to place UL stickers on fixtures they rewire.  Just be aware that in some areas, a UL certification label may be required.
These are just a few of the many types of codes and regulations which could contain the reuse of salvaged materials.  (What other code issues have you encountered with reuse of salvaged materials?  Send your experience to  

In the end, it is good to remember that most reuse stores are in business to support positive community values of environmental stewardship, and associating the business brand with basic safety and efficiency standards can help add to a "good citizen" reputation.

Member Notes

This section is here for you, BMRA members.  What is going on in your world?  Do you have job postings?  Did you just host a successful event?  Send notes to  They should be 100 words or less and may include up to two photos.

Bruce Odom, owner of Odom Reuse, which has reuse stores in Traverse City and Grand Rapids, Michigan, writes:

The original store is humming along well in Traverse city, going into year 18.  The construction salvage work has tapered back to a more normal level in 2015 compared to the frantic pace of 2014.

The Grand Rapids store, now open 14 months, is gaining momentum, but at too slow a pace to stay in our present location.  we have listed the building for sale, while continuing operations, and have begun shopping for another location.  we plan to close for a week at Christmas and at least two weeks in Feb., neither of which we have ever done before.  A tenant still occupies a large portion of the building, which helps to pay the mortgage.

I have been amazed at just how much shopping a Grand Rapidian does before making a purchase.  We are receiving decent foot traffic, but often it takes numerous visits to the store before we actually sell a person anything. We do well with easy to sell items, but the more everyday stuff is proving quite difficult.  The low end of the product line is impossible to compete with.  Craig's list turns all of our customers into competitors in a sense.  That has not been the case in my previous 2 start ups.

BMRA News is published monthly, typically in the first week of the month.  Submission deadline for articles and member notes is the 25th of the month preceding publication.  Submissions and commentary should be addressed to editor Dirk Wassink at
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