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Used Building Materials a Hit Among Home Improvers PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 November 2010 21:11

For The Associated Press Many homeowners these days are considering using secondhand items for home improvement projects.

"The interest keeps growing," said Justin Green, program director for Build It Green NYC, in New York City. "The No. 1 driver is you can save a lot of money. The No. 2 is people are interested in being green." Used building supplies can cost 50 percent to 90 percent less than new, said Shane Endicott, executive director of the Rebuilding Center in Portland, Ore.

"It's a huge motivator for people to reuse," he said. Lots of large cities, including Seattle, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, now have stores that sell used building materials, such as lumber, kitchen cabinets, lighting fixtures and sinks. Many of the stores are operated by Habitat for Humanity, which sells donated goods to raise money to build houses (using new materials) for low-income families.

Some of the resale shops also operate deconstruction businesses that tear down old buildings to salvage as much material as possible.

"Our goal is to be competitive with the wrecking ball," said Tom Longstreth, executive director of ReSOURCE, a nonprofit that offers deconstruction services and sells used building materials in Burlington, Vt. "It really is a win-win. There's a huge volume we are able to keep out of landfills."

Karen and Bradford "Skip" Hardy routinely find quality materials they could not normally afford at ReSOURCE. Past purchases have included bathroom faucets and windows. "We seemto get lucky.We get there at the right time,"

Bradford Hardy said. "On a bad year, we probably spend 2,000 bucks there. In a good year, we spend eight to $10,000."

The store also allows the couple to indulge their creative sides. He recently found large wooden pipes from an old organ, and intends to use them for giant garden wind chimes. She has turned old tile pieces into coasters.'s Pam Kueber hears from lots of secondhand- goods shoppers who have found creative uses for old building materials and household products.

"This is something you do out of joy and creativity as much as utility and frugality," said Kueber, who lives in a 1951 Colonial-ranch house in Lenox, Mass.

The growth in the number of stores around the country has made it possible for more people to consider used materials, she said. In the past, she added, it was mostly people restoring old homes and looking for items from a specific era who were drawn to used items.