beautiful buildings from salvaged materials

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The two-year-old Austin, Texas, company Reclaimed Space is making a name for itself by creating small, modular buildings--with a twist. These generally 400-to-600 square foot dwellings are made from reclaimed, re-used, or recycled materials. (An image of the company's appealing handiwork is below.) 

Co-founders Tracen Gardner and Kimber Reed obtain their materials by deconstructing buildings that have been abandoned or slated for demolition. Some of these are old barns or industrial buildings; others are houses. "The houses tend to be large-pitch German homes full of virgin-cut longleaf pine," Gardner says. These items then go into the Reclaimed Space projects, which are usually used as studios, guesthouses, or other auxiliary structures. Gardner and Reed are also talking to clients about doing bigger projects. Most of its commissions are modular, but the company will also build on site, if it makes sense for the project.

The amount of reclaimed material in each building depends on the client's preferences; windows, doors, flooring, and interior and exterior siding are usually salvaged. Framing, electrical, and plumbing are always new, in order to meet code. "We're trying to show that 100- and 140-year-old materials, if taken care of, can still be useful," Gardner says.

A typical 400-to-600 square foot project takes three to five weeks to build, transport, and install on a pier-and-beam foundation. Structures on the lower end of that size range cost about $115 per square foot (not including transportation, which according to Gardner runs around $2 to $3 per mile, or installation). The per-square-foot price drops a bit as the units get larger. Gardner also owns a ten-year-old landscape design and construction company in Austin called Dirtco, which often handles the projects' foundations, underpinning, and digging for utilities.

Interest in Reclaimed Space has been growing along with the green building movement. Gardner and Reed are completing their sixth structure and have 15 to 20 more on the boards. They're getting ready to ship a modular showhouse to dwell magazine's dwell on design conference for the second year in a row, in a collaboration with the green website ecofabulous. And last year the company won an Honorable Mention in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Lifecycle Building Challenge.--mexterior of reclaimed space project.d.



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