Building from recycled materials


As home renovators, we had the rare experience this weekend of planning a project, and actually completing it within the allotted time. And even more satisfying, is that it was done almost entirely with recycled materials (with the exception of four pine sleepers and four metal pegs).

We have found that once people know that you like to re-use and recycle materials as much as possible, they start offering you things that they no longer need. I love this shift in perception, so that we see our unwanted goods with new potential; as an opportunity to make something new, rather than just junk to be taken to the tip and forgotten.

From a practical sense, collecting recycled materials is not as quick or convenient as a trip to Bunnings. When friends offered us their old garden shed, we spent the morning with them dismantling it, trying not to lose all the little screws, and warily avoiding accidental contact with any creepy crawlies of the poisonous kind. After hitting each section of the dismantled shed with a high pressure hose, we made an awkward procession, negotiating our way along the gaping pit that will soon be a swimming pool, around the back verandah, along the side of the house, and finally loading everything into the ute. It was bitterly cold, and we all had drippy noses and grubby clothes. But now that I think about it, it was much more fun than a trip to Bunnings, and much more rewarding than spending $400-$600 on flat-packed shed. Plus we spent the morning with friends really doing something together, other than just sharing a meal.

The rest of our construction materials (including a metre high pile of sand) had been collecting for a few months along our driveway. Building from recycled materials definitely requires some patience, flexibility, and the ability to overlook piles of random clutter.



Because our garden shed sits over an easement, we’ve made a base that can be lifted and moved if necessary. It’s a non-permanent structure that we’re very much hoping will remain permanently in place.



Our shed floor is made up of random concrete pavers and bricks collected from my dad, my old workshop, Tim’s parents’ neighbour, and even some that were hidden under a layer of mulch in our backyard. We finished the job under spotlights, and then celebrated our achievement with a waltz in our work clothes & blundstones.



My parents came to the rescue the next day when it was time to re-assemble the shed. The wind had picked up, and trying to hold 3 metre long walls in place with only two people would have proved challenging, and probably made us both grumpy.



The result is a slightly larger and darker green garden shed than we would have ideally bought, built almost entirely with recycled materials, and with the help of those we love. It looks perfect in the back corner of our yard, and gives us some very desperately needed storage room. We’re ridiculously chuffed with the result.