I worked as a chef for a number of years before I met Emily. One of the things drilled into me as I came up in the business is the importance of reducing waste. Sure, from a business point of view, less waste means less lost money. A crafty cook that can turn waste into sellable product can even increase the profit margins. But there’s a certain pride and self-worth caught up in how you use your ingredients. Chefs take it as a mark of skill if they can turn secondary elements and toss aways into desirable dishes. What isn’t fit for consumption or can go into a stock, gets turned into compost for the on-site garden (in the dream set up — not that most restaurants do that sort of thing). I’ve come to learn that the construction site works in a similar kind of way. For the carpenter, the main course is wood, for the electrician it’s wire, plumber it’s pipes, etc. When framing up a wall, you cut down a lot of 2x4s. The standard length for a a 2×4 stud piece is 8 feet. But in renovation work, you don’t necessarily need an 8 foot length. For my walls, most lengths were around 90 inches. That leaves about 6 inches I was cutting off of each board. Those 6 inches add up. Beyond long lengths, there’s also short lengths. When spacing studs 18 inches on center and cutting perpendicular lengths for fireblocking, you need a whole lot of 15 inch boards. I can’t say that I feel the same sense of self-worth in controlling my scrap in this project. But I do feel that cost and materials issue. Less waste is less boards I have to buy. An 8 foot stud is about two and half bucks give or take. That’s not a lot of money, but when you need to buy them 10 at a time, it starts to add up. Plus it’s complicated transporting them. Our little sedan can actually manage five boards sticking out a window. To date we’ve used close to 150 in our project and we’re not quite done yet. That’s a lot of boards. The story is pretty much the same when it comes to wiring. Every inch is money. If you’re throwing away end pieces because they’re not long enough, you’re throwing away money.