Monday, March 7, 2011

The Wonderful World of Salvage

In a recent remodeling project, we tried our hands at re-using salvaged materials. I have to say, this did not make the contractor happy. Also, he was right, increased fees for labor overrode the amount we saved in the material, in most cases. In the Puget Sound region there are three large companies that work in this arena. For no cost, they will go to a construction site and remove the salvaged materials that could potentially find a new home at another site. Visiting these stores, Re-Store, Earthwise, and Second Use is a delight. Over time, you will find that each has its unique strengths; one has the best selection of salvaged granite or marble, while the other has a wide variety of windows; one might resell kitchen cabinets in great condition, whereas another may offer the greater variety of bathroom furnishings. It is interesting to note that only one of these establishments is a non-profit: the Re-Store has stores in both Seattle and Bellingham. The other two are set up as for-profits. One thing I learnt in the world of salvage material is that persistence may yield great results. I found the right set of kitchen cabinets for nearly 1/6th of the price I would pay in the market. I found windows and solid wood doors that matched the older style of the home for a ridiculously low price. In the same way, I found inexpensive molding, lights, paint and bathroom fixtures. For a contractor, these stores can be a great find. For the non-handy person, please make sure that you have truck and a great tape measure; for it will be necessary to measure each detail of your purchase to make sure it fits your project. I quickly learnt that buying and installing doors in their frame is the way to go rather than trying to fit a panel into an existing frame; have a way to test electrical fixtures prior to their purchase; when buying tiles, make sure that your set comprises of the same type of tiles whether ceramic, porcelain or glass. Contractors cannot be convinced to mix tiles, since they are known to vary by millimeters in their thickness, beveling and size. If price is a factor, salvaged materials may just get you the look at affordable price. Just make sure that either you are handy or that you have a contractor willing to go the extra mile, like I did.

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