Anyone driving down state Highway 23/33 during the last two weeks might have noticed a reversal of the normal building process in front of Sound Devices.
Instead of a structure slowly going up with workers pounding nails into studs and stuffing insulation between the drywall and siding, the front building was coming down piece by piece.
The structure went from a full building to a skeleton in a little more than a week’s time.
Volunteers from Habitat for Humanity of Sauk-Columbia Area salvaged more than 200 studs, 33 trusses, siding, insulation and piping, which will be sold in Habitat’s ReStore in Baraboo.
Habitat is an international organization that builds housing for low-income, working families.
Sound Devices bought the old Liberty Flag property at 7553 state Highway 23/33 last November and realized that the front portion of the building, which had some rot damage and was separate from the rest of the facility, was going to have to come down.
Jon Tatooles, managing director of Sound Devices, said the company had planned on just razing the structure when a business associate who sits on the board of directors for the Dane County Habitat branch told him about Habitat’s deconstruction projects.
“Our original plan was just to take a backhoe and take about two hours and knock it all down,” Tatooles said. “But it made sense to donate the material and divert it from a landfill.”
The Habitat ReStore sells donated lumber, appliances and furniture for people looking to remodel their homes for heavily discounted prices.
Close to a dozen volunteers came from across Columbia and Sauk counties to tear the building down, said Bruce Koch, deconstruction and ReStore coordinator for Habitat.
The volunteers put in about 75 hours to take the building apart over the course of two weekends, working on Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays and Tuesdays from March 23 to Monday.
Tom Meisenburg, a retired Alliant Energy worker from Reedsburg, volunteered every day during the deconstruction project, pulling nails from studs, coiling copper piping and stuffing insulation into bags.
Since the weather held out well through the project, Meisenburg said the biggest challenge was containing the insulation on windy days.
“It got pretty hairy there for a bit,” Meisenburg said. “It looked like an insulation snowstorm.”
Meisenburg got involved with Habitat about three years ago through his friend Jeff Rouse of Poynette, who also volunteered on the build. This was the biggest deconstruction project they’d worked on over their years with Habitat, and both said they liked knowing that their labor keeps building materials out of landfills as well as helping others.
“It’s great to salvage everything instead of having it end up in a landfill,” Rouse said. “And it’s great to know you’re always helping someone, even if you don’t ever get to see them.”
Koch said that Habitat saved more than six Dumpsters’ worth of lumber from the landfill and that some of the materials already have been sold over the last week. The money goes to help Habitat build new houses and pay for overhead expenses for the ReStore.
Koch and others keep a list of volunteers from across both counties who can help on deconstructs like this one, although normally the projects are a little smaller.
“We also do as much deconstructing of kitchens as possible,” Koch said. “If someone’s had the cabinets for 10 or 15 years, they’re really nice still and someone is happy to use them.”
Meisenburg and Rouse said they’ve also deconstructed radio towers, salvaged lumber from burned houses and taken out furnaces and water heaters as well as cabinets.
Tatooles said he was amazed at the speed and diligence of the Habitat volunteers.
“It was amazing how meticulous they were when they did it, removing the nails and keeping the piping and everything,” Tatooles said. “I had no idea you could even do this, and they salvaged an amazing amount of material.”