How To – Purchasing Salvaged Building Materials For Your Projects

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    Saving money should be part of any good project and there are a number of ways that you can save by using Salvaged building materials.

    Salvaged materials come in two groups. First and the best bet for your money is when you can find new materials that were never actually installed.  The second offering is when you reclaim used materials from homes that are older and either being demolished or remodeled.

    Before considering any salvaged materials for reuse you must be able to inspect the items for function and contamination. There are many times that you would never consider using a used product if it is a health or safety concern. In addition to function and health considerations you may also have limits placed on you by your local building official.

    Old decorative toilets are almost never a good idea however your building official will fail your permit if it is not within the low flow rules so there is no reason to get one. Even a newer model is probably not a good idea if it is not still available by the manufacturer and you can get a model number off it.

    Windows are normally not a good idea unless they have never been installed. Even double insulated windows that are new are a risk if they have been installed because they were probably pulled out because they leaked. If you do get a set of used windows or salvaged ones that did not fit a project make sure you get a return warranty just incase you have problems or they fail inspection.

    Interior door are often a great deal. You can expect to pay $60 to $100 for an interior door but you may be able to pickup a full house worth of doors and hardware if you can verify dimensions. Remember used doors are often cut to fit openings and if they are not cut they are defiantly going to be planed and drilled for locksets. If you see a bunch of doors in a 32 inch pile then measure each door’s width in three places along its height.

    Flooring is not a bad deal if you can get over runs or unused materials from a large project. You may find a contractor that over ordered just enough to do your bedroom but make sure that it is still available from the manufacturer so you can match it in case you need to buy a few extra boxes.

    Used flooring or lumber that is cut for flooring like 10 inch barn planks used for a kitchen floor can be a great way to get hold of some beautiful and not available wood. Make sure you get a decent price because boards over 6 inches cost a lot today. That is because they are old growth lumber and not used much today.

    Bricks for Pavers… you may see someone giving away or throwing away a bunch of bricks that were used in the construction of a home. These bricks can be used for pavers but you should not place them in an area with high traffic or heavy loads. That means you really want to stick with a paver that is specifically designed for driveways if you are thinking of replacing your driveway or creating a border. But for a backyard pathway or a small place to put your bbq grill a load of used bricks can be installed in just a weekend. You should inspect the mortar on the bricks. If you have a lot of difficulty removing the mortar then pass on that load because it is too labor intensive unless you have a few teens that need an afternoon chore.

    Note about Used Wood and Lumber

    No matter what product you find you must inspect the item for bug infestation. Lumber, Moldings, Doors, Furniture and any wood items including a used shed or fence must be inspected for termites, ants and other infestations. If you will be stripping the furniture in a dip bath then you can be pretty sure it is safe for use after it is prepared. However all wood can contain infestations and for that reason you should never use used lumber for framing or structural projects.

    Sure you can pull some 2x4s out of a dumpster to build a dog house … but don’t bring it inside and you would never want to use something like old barn beams unless they go through a wood drying mill that heats the lumber hot enough to kill all bugs and eggs.


    Electrical and Plumbing Items

    You should never use electrical items that are used unless you rewire them. I would only use things like lamps and outside lighting where the housing is attractive and you can rewire and resocket the light with all new internals.

    Plumbing should almost never be reused and that was covered above but if you are looking at some old pvc pipe take not that the sun can degrade it and this will end up with cracking and a much shorter life. Never reuse gasline.


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