Luck learns about recycling buildings by accident
Darrick Luck has a real appreciation for quality lumber. That’s why he sees the value in log buildings, timber frame barns and other older structures.
Luck learned about recycling buildings by accident. He was working for a company installing and maintaining swimming pools in the Madison area when a customer asked him to help remove an old barn on his property.
Luck recalls he loved doing the work and, at that time, no one was doing that type of work so he started his own building recycling business.
He receives some barns for nothing just for the service of removing it from the property and cleaning up the site. Other times he negotiates a pay price for the building.
All work is done on a contract basis with completion date, terms and liability release statement (hold harmless agreement).
When he buys a building he reminds customers to remove anything they want before he comes to the job. He then gets everything left behind.
He quips, “You’d be surprised the kinds of things we find in old barns … things that people didn’t want or need, but things that have some value.”
He salvages items like lightning rods/balls, license plates, milk cans, agriculture antiques, tools, crocks, doors, windows, pulleys, hay forks/lifts, hardware, and more. He comments, “I really feel bad when I drive past a farm and sees a barn collapsed or about to fall over. It’s such a waste. It begins with the roof. If the roof leaks and is ignored, it won’t be long before rain gets in, beams deteriorate, the roof falls in and the sides go with it.”
Luck notes, “Then there is a heap of junk to be removed. The value of the lumber is gone and it can be dangerous and an attractive place for raccoons, rats and other critters. By removing a barn before it gets to that point, good materials can be salvaged from it and the spot is left neat and orderly.”
He started his business in 2000. In the last six years he has disassembled 300 barns, sheds and houses and recycled them.
At any given time Luck probably has 10 or 12 buildings stored in the shed at his farm — he sells them on e-bay, through his web site and through word of mouth. One barn he took down in Dodge County was recently sold to a customer in Maine.
He recently took down an octagon barn at Sauk City and shipped it to Texas where it will become a part of a customer’s odd building collection.
No job is too big or too small for this entrepreneur. Luck says, “Warehouses to outhouses. I’ve done them all.”
Most times he takes buildings down for the materials but sometimes someone will contract with him to take down a building that they plan to keep and reassemble elsewhere.
That was the case when Luck was in Juneau recently taking down the upper portion of a historic barn that will be moved to another property across the road, owned by Jim Zahn, to be used as a machine shed.
He will then move on to another job taking down an old warehouse that was constructed many years ago by a canning company that was once in the city. He is particularly interested in that job because of the quality of hard maple floors in the building.
He has a sincere interest in saving old buildings, recycling the quality lumber that was used in them.
Luck says the older wood is often better quality than new wood. Most of the older wood came from old sturdy trees that grew slowly over many decades. Much of today’s lumber is grown quickly, harvested less than 20 years after it was planted.
Many old beams can be sawed for hardwood flooring. Other materials are used for framing, cabinetry and décor in modern homes.
Luck shares, “We sold a million feet of used lumber last year. We sold various types of products including material for a multi-million dollar home because it is such good quality wood.”
He sells over e-Bay, through his web site, www.oldwoodnewuse.com and through word of mouth. He locates buildings to take down through word of mouth and through ads in the Wisconsin State Farmer.
Luck stresses, “It has always been very important to me to do things right and keep the people happy. The best advertising I can do is leave satisfied customers.”
He says old structures can be dangerous liabilities. Removing them before the materials in the building start to deteriorate and rot is easier, less expensive and safer.
Luck’s home base is his 160-acre farm near Blue River in southwestern Wisconsin where he also grazes Scottish Highland cattle and a herd of about 20 Tibetan Yak. Both make good meat and graze on the hilly pastures inside fences he built with recycled lumber.