Unbuilders owner Adam Corneil with employee Erin Watkins in front of a deconstructed hearth. Unbuilders crews carefully deconstruct old homes to rescue as many reusable materials as possible, including old-growth timber. (Unbuilders photo)

Unbuilders owner Adam Corneil with employee Erin Watkins in front of a deconstructed hearth. Unbuilders crews carefully deconstruct old homes to rescue as many reusable materials as possible, including old-growth timber. (Unbuilders photo)

B.C. deconstruction company ignites Dragons’ Den interest

Unbuilders deconstructs and salvages old buildings instead of sending them to landfill

A B.C. entrepreneur had all six Dragons’ Den judges opening their wallets after pitching them a business that makes money from salvaged supplies.

Unbuilders is a deconstruction company that is working to save thousands of homes – including one in Vic West – from going to landfill each year by “unbuilding” them instead.

READ ALSO: New Vancouver Island ‘deconstruction’ company breaks down heritage houses by hand

Founder Adam Corneil explained to the dragons that they donate the homes’ fixtures and finishes to Habitat for Humanity and salvage the building materials for resale and remanufacturing.

In Canada, the construction and demolition industry sends the equivalent of 80,000 homes every year to landfills, Corneil told the dragons. Most of those are old homes and are built from old-growth lumber, which is far denser and stronger than modern lumber and holds 12 times less embodied carbon.

READ ALSO: Victoria entrepreneur slays Dragons’ Den pitch

It’s also far more valuable. According to Corneil, $2 billion worth of this lumber is left to rot in landfills across Canada every year. Unbuilders is currently working to salvage it and turn it into flooring, stair treads, countertops and furniture.

“Adam is really impressive — he is the real deal. Entrepreneurs think outside the box; they’re innovators and problem-solvers, and that’s where they win long term,” dragon, Arlene Dickinson, said in the Oct. 29 episode. “Adam is all of that. His company, Unbuilders, is a game-changer within the construction and demolition industry.”

By the end of Corneil’s pitch, he had all six dragons offering him a deal and walked away with the potential for $600,000 ($100,000 from each dragon) at 18 per cent.

READ ALSO: New Vancouver Island ‘deconstruction’ company breaks down heritage houses by hand

In January, Unbuilders expanded to Vancouver Island and set up its office in Nanaimo. Corneil has met with representatives from municipalities in the Lower Mainland, the City of Victoria, and the Capital Regional District, in hopes of having them implement stronger deconstruction policies.


 

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