Eco-look on Restoring Secondhand HousesTopic: Real Estate Value
If you've bought a fixer-upper, you may be making a list of the materials that you need to purchase in order to repair or replace. This is an ideal time to make eco-friendly practices work for you, both in terms of the environment and your wallet. By choosing previously used materials whenever possible, you can save money and also be eco-friendly.
Buying a home is a significant investment, but buying a home in need of repair can be even more of an investment, initially. In order to cash in on the increased equity that repair and redecorating will likely bring, you need to invest some time, effort and money into the renovation process.
First, look around your home. Go from room to room and have a separate list for each room, as well as the exterior of the house and the roof. Make a list of things that need to be repaired and things that need replacing. Get a binder and put all of these lists into it. Since it can be a big job to completely fix up a house, consider focusing on one room/area at a time.
Wherever possible, obtain used materials to repair and replace these things. Avoid replacing something if it can be repaired; for instance, wood window frames will outlast vinyl frames with a little maintenance, and look a lot better, especially in an older home. The one exception can be appliances, as replacing an old stove with an energy efficient one can be better both for your electricity bill and the environment. Make sure you dispose of the old stove where it can be reused or recycled properly.
Where can you get materials? It is amazing (and deplorable) how much can be found in the local landfills and, even if your tastes run to dumpster diving, landfill operators can be loathe to let you poke around. However, since recycling is in vogue, they may allow you to look through some of the stuff brought in, especially if it's recently dumped stuff. It's worth a try, but don't expect too much.
Dumpster diving is a possibility, if you are strong and agile. However, it is wise to get the permission of the person or organization using the dumpster, as some items may be dangerous, messy or actually not junk. If you are not sure, ask, and always clean up after yourself so you (and others) may be allowed back.
Recycling centers are starting to take off in a big way. They can have everything from old blankets to tiles to various bits of hardware. The nice people there may also have resources that can help you with your quest to reuse stuff for your home.
Many communities have "free" days, where people are encouraged to drag out their useless sculptures, hideous purple sofas and three-legged desks and hope that someone else wants them. The cliche "one man's junk is another man's treasure" is a cliche for a reason, especially on these days where you can find dedicated fans of this practice cruising the suburbs at 4 AM in order to get the best "finds".
The garage sale is still a traditional favorite for finding what you want and need on the cheap. Sometimes, if you see something you like that doesn't have a price tag (like that lumber lying abandoned at the side of the house), make an offer. You may also find some deals if you chat up the people holding the sale - if one of them is involved in construction or home repair, they may have some valuable items they didn't put out for perceived lack of interest.
Contact the local eco-people. You know, the ones who are constantly lobbying for cleaner water, better building practices and against dumping in ecological areas? Many of them would be thrilled to aid someone dedicated to reusing and recycling material instead of buying new. There are many eco-friendly options for the fixer-upper that your local green store may be able to hook you up with.
Never underestimate casual opportunity. If you see people demolishing a house or part of a house and it looks like they're getting rid of stuff you want, offer to take it off their hands. You may be able to get it for free or for a much lower price than you would pay elsewhere - especially if you have cash on hand. It usually helps to have a good idea what the item you're bargaining for costs on the open market.
Your local reclaim operation may have just what you're looking for. Many of these operations exist solely on reclaimed wood and other materials, transforming it into flooring and other products and reselling it. If you're looking for wood and can't find it anywhere else, your last port of call is here, where they will sell you reclaimed wood (for a price).
With a little ingenuity, you can obtain useful materials with very little outlay of cash. Not to mention, patting yourself on the back for recycling.