If you look around everywhere, no matter where you are, you will most likely find treasure loads of natural resources already formed into building materials that are going to waste. They are in the shape of old barns, houses, stores, and empty buildings from industries that have died. They are full of:

  • Vintage Wood as dimensional lumber

  • Doors

  • Windows

  • Flooring

  • Trim, baseboards, crown

  • Cabinets

  • Cast Iron w/Porcelain Sinks & Tubs

  • Hardware for doors and windows

  • Ceramic Tile

  • Fireplace mantles and gingerbread pieces

  • Lighting that can be rewired

  • Bricks and terra-cotta

  • Stained glass

  • Plumbing hardware that can be rebuilt

  • Many goodies abandoned in the structures you will find

If a Salvage Hunter sees one of these fine old decaying or abandoned houses or buildings, they need to track down the owners and find out the value or the liability it has for them. The owner may be willing to accept the help and let someone take it away for free. It is up to the salvager whether they want to put the booty from this treasure up for sale, trade, use the materials to build houses for themselves and/or relatives, or give them to someone who can. The best solution is always save it now and always use it again. People have the opportunity individually to help others who did not want these resources to go to waste and continue to see them rot. Most owners would be thrilled to see Tiny Houses built from the homes of their past. The mantra must become “Save it, donate it, don’t throw it away”. Together as a society, we have the knowledge, power, skills, and ability to make amazing things happen when we join with a common vision to do things that benefit everyone. This can also generate the income it takes to make it possible to pay for most of the human energy components that offset all the oil, gas, and fossil fuels normally going into making all the pieces and parts it takes to build a modern disposable house.

Ideally, you save it first, use it next, and never have to pay for any of it in the end. Salvage, for now, is often still free, except for the fun work of taking it down from its last life and preparing it for its next. I did not say easy, but human energy is sometimes easier to find than money. You can buy nearly all the parts you need with nothing more than the human energy and a few basic tools. You will also need a means to transport and possibly store what you find. That is where bartering, partnering, or sharing comes in for some people. Each person makes a contribution and everyone benefits from the resulting success.

My plan is to make available to everyone the knowledge they need to unleash the wealth hidden in all of these empty buildings, houses, barns, and stores. How the society grows from this opportunity is up to the individuals who will nurture these objectives and integrate them to fit their needs in other climates and unique conditions. I am constantly reassured by the fact that the physical experience of walking through my houses moves people to understand the value and importance of saving these incredible materials. There is truly a physical benefit to living in houses that are all natural and full of the energy that comes from ancient trees and proud craftsman.

My intent is to inspire, to enable, to urge on, and to support the wildfire growth of using these solutions at our fingertips to solve some of the immediate problems facing our society. As we have proven in the past, Americans have the power to change things rapidly if we choose, but it can only happen if we, as individuals, commit to do it ourselves and ultimately, en masse. That often means some sort of sacrifice, whether time or money, to help manifest a vision and integrate it into our everyday reality. It means being a part of change instead of the status quo standing by and watching for it to happen. That trend is hardest to develop at the beginning if only a few people are leading the charge. It becomes easier once enough people jump on board to support the concept and the pioneers who are trying to bring it to fruition.

It should come down to choices like:

✰ Using trees that were hundreds of years old when harvested rather than fresh cut 20-30 years old wood.

✰ Using hardware that was designed to last for centuries and has proven it by making it the first 100 years without breaking or still being repairable with ease.

✰ Using glass that will last for centuries rather than double paned glass that has to be replaced in 12 years.

✰ Building energy efficient houses that have affordable utility bills or go off grid.

✰ Building low maintenance houses that will not dissolve in 15-30 years by design like new houses do.

✰ NO “built in obsolescence”.

✰ Building using methods that will enable easy transport during its century or more of life ahead.

✰ Using doors and windows that were built here a century ago, some even by hand, with Old Growth wood, instead of plastics, composites, vinyl, plywood, or particleboard.

✰ Using wood floors milled a century ago without knots instead of glued plywood with multi-layered polyurethane finishes.

✰ Building with insulation that is not carcinogenic or hazardous to your health, does not cause mold, provide food, fire, or home site value for lizards, roaches, rats, snakes, and bugs or use fiberglass.

✰ Building a house that is healthy and nearly toxin free rather than full of materials that out-gas for two years or more after initial construction.

  • Using all American made products to build with and free us from a dependency on imports.

These choices increase the cost of housing because of the labor, yet by shrinking our personal footprint, we can afford to have such luxuries. We can afford to fund the work for our economy to grow if we just pay the same yet build less square footage, but with high quality salvaged materials that will last. We can do this without taxing the people or our world resources and fuel the change toward saving and respecting what we have already been given. To expect more indefinitely is simply denial since the inevitable realization must be that is not possible for everyone to have it all. The price we will pay globally for everyone trying to have more than they need is far greater than the rewards and luxury that is reaped on the front end by the few who profit most. There is no doubt that our planet is suffering and we need to wake up to the difference that we, as individuals, make in the big picture.

When it comes to building a home, it makes sense for me to aim for:

  •  Organic,
  • Local,
  • Logical,

  • And Executable solutions

  • To produce a house that will last for a century

  • With a minimal upfront financial investment

  • Minimum upfront energy/Carbon costs for materials

  • Minimal future structural and systems maintenance

  • Minimal energy consumption to create, heat, and cool

  • Minimal future tax liability

  • Maximum long-term value and appreciation

  • Portability so that it can move if needed or desired.

  • A unique style that is timeless

  • Designs that are proven by their historical performance

  • Being capable of functioning well off grid if needed

  • Built to ventilate heat or preserve it within as needed

  • Built to be easily repaired through out its lifespan

I propose that all of this is not only possible, it can also be artistic and beautiful.