By Christina B. Farnsworth. They are expensive, Artistic Homes' Max Wade says. But the Albuquerque, N.M., home builder saved so much money on Dumpster fees and clean-up labor costs that the first two grinders paid for themselves and the brand-new Ford Super-Duty dump trucks that haul them in less than a year's time.

Artistic typically builds 800 homes annually. Wade, Artistic Homes' vice president and son of the company founder, astonished his audience at the NAHB's March Green Building Conference in Baltimore by revealing he saved some $285,000 in just one year by recycling construction waste.

Before he bought the recycling machines from Mableton, Ga.-based Packer Industries, Artistic Homes rented 22 Dumpsters a week to fill with construction debris. The company builds houses selling for less than $100,000 but scrap disposal costs were $900 to $1,100 per 1,300-square-foot home. Every home was generating a dumpster or more in unprocessed scrap.

Packer's grinders nano-size everything from shingles to stumps, logs, brush, leaves, even asphalt paving material. The machines chew up lumber cutoffs, gypsum drywall, block, and brick. Pursuing virtue to its logical conclusion, recycled materials become everything from road beds to fertilizer.