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Build Using Reclaimed Materials

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 19 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Garden Sheds Oak Beams Shed Reclaimed

Is it time to build a new shed or some other type of garden building? Are you keen to do your bit for the environment as well? Then you should seriously consider building using reclaimed materials.

Why Use Reclaimed Materials?

When you take construction materials that have been previously used in another building and re-use them in a new project, you are using reclaimed materials.

The key is that they must remain in their original form. Although they are not processed, they can be re-sized or refinished. (When materials are processed into something else, that's recycling, not reclaiming.)

Building using reclaimed building materials is good for the environment.The construction industry is considered to be one of the leading environment offenders. Creating new artificial materials often releases greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

Even when timber is cut from managed forests, it must be replaced. Building materials often must be transported long distances, contributing even more to global CO2.

Reclaimed Materials in the Garden

Constructing garden sheds or summerhouses can also be desirable from a design perspective. As materials age, they also acquire character. A new garden building constructed using new materials will look...well...new. It could take years before it really blends with the garden and even with your house.

Building using reclaimed materials provides instant character. The imperfections and signs of use are precisely what make many reclaimed materials so interesting. Gazebos and decks built with reclaimed materials will fit in with their surroundings from the very first day.

Some builders maintain that using reclaimed materials is superior to new construction. Structural components from an earlier era were often made to higher quality standards that those currently being manufactured. By using these reclaimed materials, a level of quality can be reached that would not normally be economically feasible.

What kind of materials can you salvage and reuse? Building materials especially appropriate to garden construction include bricks, timber, slate roofing and cobbled stones. Some of the most attractive and sought after reclaimed materials are oak beams and oak flooring.

Bricks are the most commonly reclaimed building materials. It's helpful to have a creative bent when you salvage reclaimed materials. Often items can be re-purposed, or adapted to a different use. Most building materials need very little treatment or processing before re-use. Fitting them into your new garden building may require a little extra labour.

Budgeting for Reclaimed Materials

In some cases, reclaimed materials may be more expensive than new materials. In other situations, they may be more economical. Comparative savings or costs may also depend on the source of reclaimed materials. If you are able to salvage building materials from a project in your neighbourhood, then you will be likely to save money.

However, if you purchase reclaimed materials from a salvage yard, you'll end up paying for labour and transportation costs. In the long run, the character and quality of the reclaimed materials may be well worth it. A salvage yard will also offer you a wider range of choices.

To control costs, try to salvage your building materials directly from demolition sites and house clearances. If you deal with suppliers, you may be able to decrease your costs by buying in bulk.

Building using reclaimed materials is an excellent choice for obtaining high quality items with character. Garden buildings made from these materials will instantly blend with your garden and house. However, make sure that reclaimed materials meet current building, safety and health standards.

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