After seeing a client in tears beside a Dumpster during a gut remodel, mourning the loss of old windows and teak moldings, remodeler Ray Gauthier figured there had to be a better way. Now, he has discovered a sales edge to "deconstruction" -- taking apart a house piece by piece to be used elsewhere. He's also learned that reuse holds more emotional appeal than financial for his wealthy clients.

"That's the way I pitch it," says Gauthier, of Lynnbrook of Annapolis, in Maryland. He explains to his prospects at the outset that anything of value that isn't being reused will be donated to those less fortunate. "Then you move up on the scale of how they select you," he says. "In sales, they teach you the purchasing decision is an emotional decision. This definitely works from a sales point of view."

Gauthier has been so successful using deconstruction that he has launched a business with a demo subcontractor. The company, Removal Experts Co. (REX), projects $400,000-plus in first-year revenues, with eight employees, mostly laborers.

Gauthier says there are tax guidelines on exactly what homeowners can deduct and advises them to consult tax advisers.

He says a typical job, for a 3,500-square-foot home, costs about $3,000 to salvage (fixtures, cabinets, countertops, doors, windows) and $6,500 to deconstruct (includes joists, rafters, hardwoods). The homeowner, meanwhile, takes about a $25,000 tax deduction (which works out to about $8,000 in real dollars, depending on the tax bracket), based on the products' costs, determined by a lumberyard building products directory.

Materials are donated to The Loading Dock, a nonprofit Baltimore reuse center whose proceeds fund affordable housing.

REX now provides services for Gauthier's competitors, and it's also working with the county to show how almost an entire structure can be reused and how much waste, by pound, is saved from the landfill.