When it comes to building, I have an enthusiasm for recycling old materials and giving them a new life. This probably goes back to childhood days building cubby houses out of bush poles or scavenged materials… but it’s stuck with me and I get real enjoyment from taking something that might otherwise be thrown away and using it to make a beautiful useful building.
Sometimes friends have asked me about building things at their place, but I’ve seldom done such work because the cost of labour is such a big component and is what often makes recycling inefficient from an economic point of view. Spending time de-nailing a century old piece of hardwood can be therapeutic and satisfying, but you can’t charge your friends an hourly rate to recover a piece of timber that ends up a dozen times more expensive than a fresh new piece of pine. Consequently, much of recycling has to sit in the DIY world. That’s fine for me because I choose to use my time that way (plus I have a good set of tools & equipment so I’ve become more efficient over the years).
If you’ve ever worked with twisted old timbers or lost the tooth of a saw blade to a hidden nail, you’ll know there are other reasons why sensible builders like to use new materials!
Recycling is great but requires time, equipment, space to work on the materials and then store them until they are used… so it’s not for everyone. If you want to build a house, for instance, the storage space required to collect enough materials just isn’t available on your average block.
If you are thinking of building and want to use a local builder and new materials, but still create an environmentally strong house, there are other models. I recommend taking a look at the website Josh Byrne created about building his own 10 star home in Perth. It features a series of great videos taking you through the process.
You’ll also find lots of technical data, plans, etc on the fact sheets page – this will save you doing many hours of research!