Want to trim your remodeling budget and make the project eco-friendly? The answer may be using reclaimed or salvaged materials like doors or moldings.
“If you go the salvage route, you’re reducing the amount of waste in the landfills, saving money, and you’re able to build something that’s different than what everyone else is building, says Carrie Ferrence, the former director of business development at Second Use, a Seattle store that sells reclaimed business materials.
The environmental impact is huge. In 2017, the United States generated nearly 570 million tons of construction and demolition debris. That’s more than double the amount of municipal solid waste generated.
The impact on your budget can be sizeable as well. Salvaged materials can sell for 40 percent to 60 percent less than buying them new. Reclaimed renovations have even gotten trendy in recent years, thanks to the popularity of television renovation shows like Fixer Upper and Salvage Dawgs.
While you won’t have to sacrifice style to make reclaimed materials a part of your renovation, it’s not going to be as easy as a quick trip to Home Depot. Here are five things you need to know:
1. You may have to put in some time…
You’re likely not going to find all the doors or tile you need to remodel your house on your first visit to the salvage store.
“Like any second-hand industry, come with your measurements, come with some creativity, and come with a truck,” says Leslie Kirkland, executive director of the Baltimore nonprofit reclaimed building supplies store The Loading Dock. “You might have to go back to find what you’re looking for.”
While interior and exterior doors are common finds at salvage stores, consumers can also buy light fixtures, sinks, cabinets, molding, tiles, and many other things needed for remodeling a home.
2 …But you’ll have plenty of options
There are salvage stores across the country, stocked with materials recovered from deconstructed homes, buildings and schools, and from homeowner donations. The nonprofit Habitat for Humanity runs salvage stores in many areas under the brand name ReStore, but you can also find a list of architectural salvage stores via the online directory from Old House Online. Many such stores are updated regularly. Perusing salvage stores isn’t the only way to find reusable materials.
Pawn shops and some thrift stores and flea markets may have usable items. Online marketplaces like Craigslist, Etsy, and eBay all have reclaimed materials for sale. Some Facebook groups and the website Freecycle also feature people offering used materials (and pretty much anything else you can imagine) for free. Another option: Visiting the local dump or salvage yard. For those finds, however, you may have to test for hazardous materials such as lead paint or asbestos. (Most salvage stores won’t sell anything with asbestos, and they may tag items that might have lead paint. Though, generally, its buyer beware when it comes to hazardous materials.)
3. You may need to be flexible
…and creative If the exact tile or fixture that you envisioned in your project isn’t available, you may need to look at the types of salvaged materials that are available and work backwards to retrofit your design. Using an architect or designer who’s experienced in working with – and sourcing – reclaimed materials can make this process much easier. Keep an eye out for décor items that can add personality to the room, like a statement chandelier or an ornate mirror.
4. There may be hidden costs
Even if you use reclaimed materials that cost less, you’ll still have to pay for the labor to install them. That happened to one homeowner recently who thought they’d gotten a bargain on salvaged doors. Unfortunately, they didn’t factor in how much they’d have to pay the contractor to trim and retrofit each door to so that they’d fit in the home, says Paulo Scardina, a designed with the architectural and design firm Sustainable Sedona in Sedona, Ariz.
Still, in cases where the parts fit and the reclaimed materials blend in, homeowners not only get cost savings but also distinctive a distinctive look. “When you’re working with salvaged materials, you get really interesting designs,” Scardina says. “Whether (the cost savings) washes out depends on a case-by-case basis.”
If you’re in need of financing, consider using your home equity to make necessary updates to your home. If you’re house is worth more than you owe on it, you may be able to use that equity to make home improvements.
5. Think about your project waste as well
If the goal is to reduce the environmental impact of your renovation, you’ll need to also think about the waste that the project is generating. If you’re redoing a dated bathroom, for example, or gutting a kitchen, consider whether you can donate or sell those materials so that they don’t end up in a landfill. Ask your contractor whether they can help you “deconstruct” your home, so that it’s dismantled in a way that leaves the materials intact and usable.