Bellaire tries to go green by deconstructing home

January 29, 2013 8:30:45 PM PST
We often cover stories of cities demolishing old homes. Well the city of Bellaire is trying something different with an old home and it's going require some extra tax dollars.

Bellaire City Council has voted to pay more to get rid of an house in an effort to learn for itself about green building practices.

At a small wood framed house in Bellaire, an experiment is brewing.

"This is kind of a test case for the city," said Kristin Schuster with the Bellaire Building and Standards Commission.

Owned by the city and located next to the library, one 1950s house was slated to come down anyway. Now it will be deconstructed.

"In other words, rather than bulldozing it, now it's going to be taken apart and salvaged for reuse and recycling," Schuster said.

Bellaire City Council voted Monday night to allow Habitat for Humanity to recycle the whole house. Some taxpayers like the idea.

"I guess I'm in favor because I think it benefits other people," Bellaire resident Judy Thrasher said. Sot

"It's a new idea, let's try it," Bellaire resident Chuck Mullen said.

Schuster hopes it encourages change. Current city ordinance requires demolition to be done within seven days. Taking a house apart piece by piece takes longer.

"We've been looking at ways to suggest revisions to that ordinance that might allow or encourage the practice of whole-house recycling," Schuster said.

Four council members voted in favor, one abstained and Mayor Phil Nauert voted against measure. It will cost $21,000, about $8,000 more than a traditional demolition.

"It costs more and I want to know if we're going to get more, or if we're getting the same thing. Recycling, I don't have a problem with -- now what we have to decide is how we're going to do it and how much we're going to pay for it," Nauert said.

Now that the oridnance has passed, Nauert says he now supports it. And while it will cost the city of Bellaire more, supporters say it will cost private residents less in the long run because they will be able to claim tax deductions on any donated materials.

We worked on this story with our Houston Community Newspapers partner, the Bellaire Examiner.

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