Salvaged Building Materials: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

When building a home, what often matters most is the character of the residence. Buying a new construction gives the luxury of customizing exactly what the customer would like to see in the new property. What has been on a lot of people’s radars as of late is the use of salvaged materials during the construction process. With the ability to instantly add a new level of depth in a room, mixing in a splash of old or antique into a space can go a long way toward tying together the various elements that make up a home. As is many times the case, however, homeowners can easily get carried away with the details and overwhelm the property by overdoing the distressed look.

Here’s a peek at some great and not-so-great practices.

salvagedPhoto © Dale Hubbard, Surround Architecture

The Good

During a new build, one of the most gratifying things is to experience is a custom project moving from the idea stages to fruition. A well-informed design proposal should be able to tie things together through use of common colors, materials, and tones. A solid plan of action will do wonders for the value of your property. Thankfully, many salvaged pieces are less expensive than their modern counterparts, and can also result in substantial savings for buyers, in addition to the benefits in character that they provide. Case in point: the use of reclaimed wood. First and foremost, it’s extremely cost effective. Second, it’s very environmentally friendly, since you’re basically recycling another building’s materials. Third, there’s a one-of-a-kind attitude that comes along with making floors and siding with this kind of history. It’s a balance between beauty and functionality, and can certainly do a lot to tie an area together.

The Bad

When working with older building materials, one must be certain that the new concept fits the home’s overall theme. Having a room that’s completely different from the rest of the house can make it look really out of place, and throwing in too many antique accents can actually overpower the space. It’s crucial that you thoroughly vet your design plan before moving into the construction phases, so as to avoid the unfortunate surprise of building something that you weren’t quite ready for. In other words, sometimes an idea sounds better in your head, so it is really important to put it down on paper and consult with your builder or architect before giving the okay to move forward with construction. When done right, salvaged highlights in your home can be fantastic conversation pieces that add a lot of depth. When done wrong, you achieve a very different look, often characterized by an inconsistent palette without any rhyme or reason.

The Ugly

Aside from the immediate design implications surrounding the addition of reclaimed building materials, there’s also a safety issue that must be addressed. Many components being pulled and repurposed from other properties can have a number of hazards associated with them if left unchecked. For example, using old wood boards can run the risk of introducing mold or pests that may have been harbored within the porous grain. Another worry is the strength of said building materials. Do not design purely for aesthetics and neglect to think about whether something is strong enough to support regular foot traffic, for example. Any time you use older supplies, it’s necessary to keep an eye on the quality of the product being brought in. If nothing else, it ensures that you’ll have a hazard-free place to live for years to come.

The key to making sure you’ve got a special project that’s not too out-there is to work with a professional on the details. It’s our job to be honest with you about any questions you may have along the way. Our customer-centric approach ensures that your needs will be addressed, while still preserving the utmost standards in safety, green building practices, and functionality. The next time you’re interested in new construction, contact us, we’d be happy to help your vision come to life.

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