Bob Oetting, left, Upper School teacher from the Landon School, works with students Sam Lamson and Eric Jordan to gather scrap metal at the Habitat Choptank ReStore’s recent pre-demolition project site.

EASTON Recently, a family from Northern Virginia purchased a property in Talbot County and looked forward to constructing a spacious home that takes advantage of the peaceful water views. Standing between them and their dream, though, was a 1300-square-foot cottage, built years ago, but kept nicely by its previous owner. Like so many older homes along the shores of Talbot and Dorchester counties, this one was slated to be demolished, its remains to be carted to the landfill.

When Ilex Construction & Woodworking signed a contract to construct the new home, part of their job was removal of the old building. This has been a common practice in the Mid-Shore. Often, the homes were razed by the new owners who had no way to get rid of still useful items from the house other than send them to the landfill.

An alternative is now available that helps builders and property owners responsibly dispense with salvageable materials from demolition sites and to save on costly tipping fees.

The Habitat for Humanity Choptank ReStore has been accepting these materials since it opened in late 2010, relying on contractors and home owners to bring them to the Easton store.

Now, Habitat is forming a partnership with area builders to provide a pre-demolition service to help remove fixtures, doors, windows, cabinets and anything else that can be salvaged from a house slated for removal. Ilex has a long-standing relationship as a supporter of Habitat Choptank, so the partnership on this initial project was a natural fit.

"When David Nabb, the project manager for Ilex, contacted us, we were excited to have the opportunity to send a volunteer crew in to work on this project," said Lee Weldon, manager of the Habitat Choptank ReStore. "Habitat affiliates around the country are engaged in pre-demolition activities, and with the closure of the Talbot landfill, the need for this service locally is particularly acute."

Racheal Patrice, a stipend volunteer serving with Habitat Choptank through the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, has been working on developing the pre-demolition program for the ReStore, and helped identify the Ilex project as the first to be tackled by the local organization.

"The Chesapeake Bay is directly impacted by the way we dispose of things." Patrice said. "If we can reduce the volume of material going into the landfills through reuse, recycling and salvage, we are making a step toward improving the watershed."

In addition to protecting the Chesapeake, keeping these materials in circulation has a positive impact on the community when they are brought to the ReStore and offered for re-sale.

"We bring the materials back to the ReStore, clean them up, and sell them to the public at a discounted price," said Weldon. "This helps people have access to quality goods to fix up their homes, and all the proceeds of our sales support Habitat Choptank's self-help home ownership program."

He added that the property owners benefit from the donation of the items, since they can be tax deductible. Habitat Choptank provides a detailed listing of materials that are salvaged as part of a receipt.

Items Habitat expects to collect from the project include kitchen cabinets, appliances, a nearly new oil furnace, carpeting, hardwood floors, windows, plumbing and electrical fixtures, interior and exterior doors, cast iron radiators and more. In the coming weeks, these items will be available for purchase at the ReStore, located at 8648 Commerce Drive.

Habitat Choptank has made home ownership possible for 55 families to date and currently partners with eight local families. These families are offered a "hand up" out of poverty housing. After completing "sweat equity" hours and pre-homeownership classes, these families will purchase homes that they helped construct and assume responsibility for repaying an interest-free Habitat mortgage.

For more information about the Habitat Choptank ReStore, to volunteer with the demolition program or in the store, or to make a donation, contact 410-820-6186, or visit


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