Building with recycled materials offers two advantages. Not only are you building with cheaper materials with a history, but you are also helping to offset part of your CO2 footprint. It’s no secret that building materials can really eat into your construction budget. Like the housing market, material prices can go down and down. By looking for recycled materials wherever possible, you can save more money. Don’t know where to start? If you know where to look, you will find an abundance of salvaged materials at your fingertips. Here are some of the best places to score free and cheap materials.
Social media and online advertising
The best place to start is to call the call to your friends and family on social networks. Chances are, someone on your friends list has something you need in their garage right now. Post a message on your page, then post on indoor swap meet and on online classifieds sites. There are entire websites, such as Freecycle, dedicated to the free exchange of used goods. There you will find wood, tiles and countertop residues and even tools.
Buildings to be reused
Habitat for Humanity Restorations are outlets that accept donations of building materials such as light fixtures, cabinets and even tools. They then resell them to the general public for a few cents on the dollar. You can check if there is a repossession nearby, but if you are not lucky enough to have one, try thrift stores.
Barter and trade
Hey, you’re not looking for an alms, just recycled materials! Exchanging some of the extra materials you have on hand can be a win-win situation. Don’t you have anything more? Offer to lend a hand to a builder or a neighbor who needs materials. Or, take a look in your garage and display some of the tools or toys that you don’t use on exchange or sale sites. It’s a great way to get to know your community and take some of your extra business off your hands.
Centers of scratches and dents
When floor models or packaging are damaged, they are usually unsaleable to retailers. While some stores may write off damaged items at a loss, others send damaged items to scratch-and-dent outlets. There you will find special offers on materials that have minor aesthetic problems, have been returned by customers or have been ordered incorrectly. Check out these outlets for things like carpeting, lighting, plumbing fixtures, flooring, and even appliances. If you are ready to neglect cosmetic problems or if you are less picky about color and finish, you can equip your home on the cheap.
The fact is that construction sites almost always have scraps and leftovers in their garbage cans. However, before you dive into the dumpster for leftovers, make sure it is kosher with the builder. In fact, calling a builder to see if they have any extras from your bathroom tile or a poorly ordered chandelier can help you connect with contractors who are happy to give you leftovers that they would otherwise have thrown away.
Scrap yards are the real noose of recycled materials because in most cases the materials go to landfill. When you consider the number of houses that have been renovated while remaining in good technical condition, it is obvious. For example, cabinets are regularly updated, even if cosmetically or functionally there is nothing wrong. Keep an eye on demolition sites to mark reclaimed wood, brick, cabinets and even tiles and floors.
Salvage yards are usually run by people who can see the potential in just about anything. Even the pallets used in the shipment can be reclaimed wood if you can find them in good condition. Take a Saturday afternoon and head to your local salvage yard. Tell the owner or manager about some of the things on your wish list and, more often than not, you will find someone who will be happy to help you with your treasure hunt. Salvage yards are great for recycling reclaimed metal and wood and finding replacement parts for expensive tools.
No one can give you their recycled stuff if you don’t ask for it, right? Just spreading the word in your neighborhood can give you a huge return on your time. Printing a leaflet that informs your neighbors about what you are working on and some of the materials you want to recycle can help you practically recover items from your own garden. Put a few flyers in town or post them on community message boards to make sure you spread the word.
Whether you are renovating your home or building from scratch, your local hardware store is not the ultimate solution for materials. Getting creative when it comes to sourcing and looking beyond the usual avenues can help you save money, in addition to adding more to your story. Breathe new life into materials by committing to recycle and reuse whenever you can and you will enjoy your finished project even more than before.