In 1980 I was in my second year of college, majoring in geology. Realizing I had no desire to be a geologist I started to think hard on what I did want to do. I noticed an ad in the local paper for a new show. It was called “This Old House” and was about restoring old homes. I immediately fell in love with the idea. I’d buy, move into, rebuild and sell old wrecks. It was a perfect fit. I’ve always loved old houses, enjoy creative problem solving, and have a hard time with waste. Over the years this evolved into my current focus. Building small, efficient homes of traditional design.

Building creates a fair amount of waste. With careful management I can reduce the waste from building a new house to a single pickup truck load.

Managing jobsite waste begins with the design. Keep the materials you’ll be using in mind and plan accordingly. For example, the sheet goods I use for subfloors come in 4'x8' sheets; I make sure my design utilizes those sheets efficiently.

I always use Boarding Boards, which are number 4 pine, for my roof sheathing, and often for wall sheathing. The best boards are culled out for exterior trim, less window trim. The result is that, other than my subfloor, all my framing and exterior trim waste becomes kindling.

My interior wall surface is 1x8 pine V-match. Ceilings 1x6 pine Edge and Center Bead. Again, all waste is kindling.

Anything that can be recycled is. There’s always a box on-site for recyclables. I punch a few holes in the bottom of a paint can for drainage. All small metal scrap, primarily bent nails, goes there.

My current build has locally built windows. Every window came out with large foam shipping protectors on each corner. Those went back to the plant for reuse.

Anything that can be repurposed or passed along is. At times a new use isn’t obvious. When I use batt insulation, rather than slice the bag open, I fold it down over itself.

I can get the compressed batts out and use the bags for trash. Saving that bag for reuse rather than slicing it off takes an additional 30 seconds.