Our Net-Zero Home in Long Beach, California

Living the Change We Want to See in the World


    Goodbye Old House

    Before we removed contigencies, during escrow, for purchasing the Cristensen house, we contacted several demolition and deconstruction companies to get rough estimates for removing the existing house, pool, and trees. We wanted to understand if we were going to eat up too much of our budget just removing the house. The rough estimates, while generally higher than we expected, were tolerable from a financial perspective.

    Unfortunately, the condition of the house was very bad and it had significant amounts of hazardous waste (lead and asbestos). Very little material was available for reuse which meant the deconstruction cost estimate was much higher than demolition cost estimates. We wanted to deconstruct the house to really minimize the amount of material that went to landfill, but given cost premium to deconstruct, we decided to demolish. Also, the City of Long Beach has some pretty strict requirements for routing demolition waste to appropriate recycling and landfill areas. We rationalized that demolition was not a significantly worse environmental option in this situation.

    After a somewhat lengthy process getting all of the appropriate permits, posting a sizeable bond (to ensure that we transported the waste to the appropriate recycling facility and landfill area), and removing the hazardous waste, we demolished the house about a year after buying it. We were able to divert a very small number of items to reuse.

    Looking from our current home's kitchen window, we now have a relatively clean slate for building our green, dream home.


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