DANVILLE — Houses look rock-solid, until it's time to take them apart.
When you have an army of volunteers and a special drill that takes the nails right out of the wide plank oak flooring, things pop apart like a pile of big, heavy Legos.
The house is at Sweetbrier, the Boyle County farm of nationally known radio personality Rick Dees and his wife, Julie.
The volunteers are from Habitat for Humanity's Habitat ReStore — which sells donated home goods, including furniture, at its outlet on Lexington's Southland Drive — and from around Danville. They include a group of University of Maryland students who have been in town painting and fixing up Habitat houses. On this day in January, they finally get a chance to take a house down to the bare walls.
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The house, a short jaunt from the Dees' imposing main house, is being torn down, its land returned to agricultural use.
For Habitat volunteers, this is another day of harvesting goods that would otherwise go to waste.
"We do kitchen cabinets regularly," about 50 sets a year, says Katie Clay, resource development coordinator at ReStore.
Jim Kreiner, ReStore director, says the store receives about 5,000 pounds of goods a day from residents, contractors, remodelers and businesses such as Marriott's Griffin Gate Resort & Spa, which, Kreiner said, "has been donating to us for 13 years."
The material will be sold to those who want to improve their homes in a way that is inexpensive and green.
"We're keeping that out of landfills," Kreiner says of the parts and pieces of the house.
The group works within a six-hour time frame to complete its "harvest."
The volunteers scoop up flooring, windows, doors, cabinetry and fixtures. The oak floors are largely unmarred, as are the white wood-and-glass cabinets from the kitchen, and the dark-stained entertainment center and bookshelves that take up a wall of the family room.
All items go to the Habitat ReStore in Lexington for sale the next day. ReStore sells new and lightly used home-improvement goods, furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances to the public for 50 percent to 75 percent off retail prices. Proceeds are used by Habitat for Humanity to help build and renovate homes.
Whether anyone without a keen sense of kitsch will want the pink toilet, tub and basin from this house is another matter.
The work is a switch for the Maryland students working at the house, among them Wilson Fletcher, who is part of Collegiate Challenge, an alternative break program in which students spend time — and pay their own way — to help Habitat for Humanity.
Groups spend a week working with a local Habitat affiliate — there are 200 throughout the United States — and the community and Habitat partner families to eliminate poverty housing in the area.
It's a matter of construction, such as painting, or deconstruction, such as pulling up oak planks, Wilson said. "This is fun. ... This is different from what we've been doing all week."
HOW TO HELP
Habitat for Humanity deconstruction
How it works: For people remodeling or demolishing a home, Habitat considers deconstruction "an environmentally responsible alternative to demolition." Deconstruction is the removal of salvageable items. It reduces waste deposited into landfills. Items are then sold to the public at the Habitat ReStore, 451 Southland Dr.
Contact: Jim Kreiner, (859) 252-2224, Ext. 103, or firstname.lastname@example.org.