Maine Attraction

Short of robbing a bank, it would be difficult for any musician turned art teacher to afford two homes. However, using building materials gathered from Maine's Casco Transfer Station, Kim Chasse has added a master suite and outdoor sauna to his first home, and currently is building a lake house — all while saving thousands of dollars.

Fueled by his desire to be a homeowner, Chasse learned how to build a house. In 1986, he bought materials and began building a two-story, 49-foot by 30-foot home in Casco, Maine. Then, a few years ago when he began carting his own refuse to the local transfer station, Chasse noticed building materials had been set aside, with much of the wood, doors and windows still in good condition. He began collecting pieces each time he dropped off his garbage, and soon had a pile big enough to extend his home.

The collected wood helped Chasse add a 14-foot by 14-foot master suite to his initial floorplan. With the exception of the window and shingles, all of the material for the cupola-style bedroom, including the red oak floors, came from the transfer station.

The wood pile also allowed Chasse to build a deck to set his hot tub on and to construct a sauna trimmed in mahogany. The sauna's materials would have cost between $6,000 to $8,000, but Chasse only spent $200, mostly on shingles.

“When people see the house they can't believe it,” Chasse says. “If you price these materials out, they are expensive. But if you know what you're looking for and understand what's there, you're going to take it. I'm able to make these things look good, and it is not like I'm digging and rats are all around.”

The bedroom alone has added $60,000 to the house's value, but only cost about $5,000, he adds.

Chasse continues to build with cast-offs — his current project is a lake house near the last 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The house is being constructed from materials from a torn-down cottage that previously stood on the property, as well as from pine retrieved from the transfer station.

“I'm a bit lazy on the recycling process, so this is how I'm able to be a part of that,” Chasse says. “It feels good that I'm using what otherwise would be destroyed.”