Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: demolition







Two days ago we became quite distracted by the demolition of a house next door, spending much of the day watching... no, gawking out the window and taking photographs. We were most impressed by the skill of the operator of that excavator and how quickly it was done, loaded onto numerous trucks and hauled away.

We knew this was coming since the property had changed hands and the buyer is having a very much larger home built in its place. Still, it was sad to see a decent home torn down, one that had housed several families over the years. We knew three in the time we've lived here and liked most the last family with young girls.

Most appalling, however, was that the building materials - roofing, window glass, timbers, gyproc, insulation, wiring and much more - were not separated for recycling, that is, were not put through a process of deconstruction which I think is required practice today. Truck after truck just hauled it all away quite some distance to some dump presumably.

Sad, at so many levels.

Marja-Leena | 19/01/2012 | 17 comments
themes: Current Events, Environment


you don't have any laws about that? We do. Of course the problem is that someone might in the dark night do that anyway, but often they're caught up.

People usually know eachothers, so they can't just haul of any heap, without putting different material in different places.

Harmful waste has to be put in separate places.

I always enjoy watching works like this, whether of construction or demolition. The waste does sound shocking though; they say it takes many decades for a house to justify the materials used in building it. Let's hope the new house at least uses more environmentally-friendly, energy saving materials to offset that a bit.

Ripsa, I don't know if there are real laws, or just recommendations, but it does not look like there is enforcement. I suspect the disposal charges are just higher and justified by lower labour costs. I'm just speculating.

Canada has the worst record in the world for greenhouse gases, did you know!? Many European countries, especially Germany, are now very "green" and even creating jobs doing so.

Lucy, I enjoy it too but this is the first time it is so close to home. We did do major renovations to our place but without the major destruction and waste, recycling as needed when it was still a fairly new thing, and we put in passive solar. I'm not sure how environmentally friendly this new construction will be as we know this builder uses concrete a lot. Time will tell.

At present, a big hole in the ground is being excavated for the foundations and more earth is being hauled away. Thankfully it's winter and we can keep our windows closed - the constant movement of dump trucks spew out nasty diesel fumes! No, the working trucks don't use the clean diesel technology that Europe uses, and is available here too. No laws for that, I suppose. Shame on Canada!

I'm so sorry about the house next door. You know, it might have had a lot of asbestos in it. Maybe the best thing was just to haul it all away. But you live in such a desirable spot that the richies are bound to move in on you and build their tasteless McMansions.
Not to be offensive, I hope, but there is a Canadian tendency toward complacency. The average Canadian is reasonably well off, and the social safety net is pretty good. And it's a big country, where a lot can go on in out of the way places that is not good for the environment. Like what happened to the forests of B.C., out of sight and out of mind.
And the tar sands. I am so glad that Obama put a stop to the Keystone project to bring tar sand oil all the way to the Southern U.S., which some said would have tipped the planet toward irreversible climate change.
There is hope. My niece, who grew up in Vancouver, is a dedicated environmentalist and works for an organization that buys up land for restoration and preservation.

Hattie, I agree about the tendency to McMansions around here since property values are the highest in the country now. The big problem is that we have a lot of resources which the business and corporate interests exploit with all the power they have in Canada, as they do in the US so the environmentalists have a struggle here. And there are lots of us environmentalists here, the home of Greenpeace. I'm glad to hear about your niece, sounds like our youngest daughter who also works for an environmental foundation. You have probably heard of the current hearings and fights against the Tar Sands pipeline project (the same as the Keystone) which would cross from Alberta across pristine areas of northern BC to the west coast at Kitimat. We hope to stop it as did Obama.

It is sad that that in the world we now live in it is easier to throw away perfectly good stuff and replace it with newer stuff than it is to save the old stuff and repair it. It's the same with houses as it is with socks. I remember the time when I had a darning egg to darn socks with. Now if a sock gets a hole in it I toss it in the rubbish bin.

But you will at least enjoy to some extent watching the new house take form. And I bet there will be lots of photo-ops.

My first thought as soon as I saw the first picture was my hope that it wasn't the place next door to you. Considering the amount of dust and toxic material tossed into the air when this kind of operation is conducted at least you were spared by it being winter and having your windows closed. I hope your gardens will be okay come spring.

Yes, it is sad--and o shortsighted. I believe necessity will force us to enter a new era of frugality soon.

Anne, yes, we are a throw-away society. I'm trying to save things, like I have a huge basket of socks that need darning, sigh. I just cut up a few worn out shirts for rags, and saved the buttons, yet still had pieces to throw out. Oh yes, it shall be interesting to watch the new house take shape, though we are rather nervous at how huge it will be and if we'll lose the view of the mountain, that sort of thing.

Susan, yes, we're glad it's winter. We hope it won't be too messy and noisy during the building. We remind ourselves that we impacted on our neighbors when we were doing our extensive renovations, years ago now. There are a lot of old houses in this neighbourhood so this may happen more and more. Many of them were not so well-built, lacking the insulation and double-glazed windows that are the norm now. And thanks, I hope the garden will do fine. I might not grow any vegetables on the deck this year though, if there is too much air pollution.

Patry! Wonderful to have you visit! Yes, an era of frugality may be around the corner - sure hope so!

Startled to see these images here, the blog I visit for very different images, ones that please my soul, challenge my own ways of seeing. You have my sympathy. Closest experience of mine was watching a very ugly new house built next door on what had been a large open lot filled with trees, flowers in the spring.

Not enough has been written/pictured about the urge toward McMansions by the new rich--especially gross when often these fill entire footprint, leave no room for trees that might obscure them from the rest of us!

Naomi, thanks for the kind words about my blog and in sympathy. You've said it well about this overbuilding mania. We were attracted to this older community because of its larger lots with lots of trees and space between neighbours. It's changing but I'm still keeping fingers crossed that eventually this property will be landscaped nicely to blend in and give privacy. At least in our backyard we have a screen of huge rhododendrons.

I have some protection from that sort of thing now, living in an older house (it was a temporary federal center-hall, used by the original owner until the grand house next door was built--sort of the trailer of 1808) in an established village. But the lovely farms close by are being carved up in a sad way, often for big new houses...

In the village, we can't violate our footprint without a great deal of paperwork and review--my neighbors across the street and to one side have put on additions, one where there was a woodshed attached to the house and another where there once was an addition. Even extending our rear porch to be the size it once was but in a different spot (the kitchen having been bumped out into the old porch) turned out to require meetings and argument. I don't really mind, as I don't want uglification!

Marly, it is a good thing that there is protection for heritage/old buidlings in your area. I've heard of those issues around renovations and additions in England and even my husband's grandparents' home in Germany. Vancouver is a young city... nevertheless, many important old buildings have been destroyed before heritage councils have been able to put protections on some of them. Our neigbourhood has just a few older heritage homes around 100 years old.

We're trying to keep our hopes up that the new home won't be too ugly, even as it will be big, judging by the excavations taking place.

oh, what a disgusting waste. i'm shocked to see it. it was a perfectly good house, i'm very upset to see what they've done. amazing what people think is okay! x

Elisa, yes, yes! You should see how many truckloads of topsoil were removed and now the subsoil. There's a small lake next door, and this amazingly huge rock that has surfaced (wish I could have that one if we had room in our garden).

Oh, yes, they might like dumping that rock next door! I want rocks!

Marly, it was so big that the excavator machine could not move it. One guy spent more than a day drilling into it, and then the excavator broke it up into some lovely but still huge pieces. I wish I had room for some of them in my garden. I do hope they will be saved for the new one that will come.