Columbus Local News: > Archives > Region > News > Builder’s piecemeal approach to demolition spares landfill

Connor Matrka carries wood from the roof of his father Mike Matrka’s Upper Arlington house, where he’ll pull nails and stack it with other salvaged planks. Connor Matrka and his family are working together to demolish the house.

Upper Arlington builder Mike Matrka and his son Danny are aiming to go where few builders have gone before.

Having purchased a house at 2800 Edington Road in November, Mike Matrka plans to build three houses on the site, including one for him and his wife, after the existing structure is torn down.

But rather than hire another company to demolish the house quickly, Matrka and his crew are taking their time with the demolition to salvage, recycle and reuse as much material as possible.

Most of the recovered lumber, stone and metal is being donated to Habitat for Humanity. Some will be incorporated in the new houses.

When a building is torn down, most of the debris usually ends up in a dump or landfill, Matrka said.

“It’s always bugged me,” he said. “I’ve always felt a responsibility to be as efficient as possible.”

While a demolition company can tear down a building in a matter of days, this deconstruction is taking eight weeks.

“It seems like we’re always trying to go faster and faster, and I’m not totally convinced that’s always the best case,” Matrka said. “It’s my own personal project so no one can yell at me for taking too long.”

Danny Matrka, 24, is leading the crew, which includes his brother, Connor. Danny Matrka, a Dublin resident, said he embraced the idea when his father first discussed it.

“As a society, we waste a ton of stuff,” Danny Matrka said. “Instead of that being dumped, you get to see it live on in a new way.”

Mike Matrka, who spent nearly 30 years in the construction business, called the project an “experiment.”

“I don’t know if anybody’s done it before,” he said. “We’re documenting the journey.”

Danny Matrka is filming every aspect of the project, charting the progress to show others what they’re doing, what works and what doesn’t.

He also filmed Kiel Mohrman of Modern Farm Furniture receiving some wood and turning it into new furniture. That sequence embodies what the project is about, he said.

He added he plans to edit the footage into a documentary.

“We’ll see how that turns out,” he said.

Among the companies assisting with the project are the Linworth Lumber Co., which is lending its trucks and banding machine to bundle the lumber, and Wholesale Stone Supplies, which is storing the stones.

Mike Matrka said the companies he’s worked with have been encouraging.

“They think I’m a nut, but they’re curious,” he said. “You get these people I’ve worked with jumping in to help.”

From the outside, the project might not make sense financially, he said, but he won’t know the final cost until everything is complete.

“It might not make any sense at the end of the day, but sometimes you don’t know until you try it,” he said.

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