Monday, January 11, 2016

Timeline - Craigslist Shopping - Materials

Last Five Years

I guess a $34/sq ft building budget helped to make me a Craigslist junkie.  Until actual construction crowded my schedule, I tried to find time each day (early mornings and weekend days are best), to check out two categories --"Materials" and "Tools".  Even then, I have missed more opportunities than I have hit because I contacted the seller nanoseconds too late.  I limit my searches to individuals instead of dealers (or dealers who pose as individuals) because most individuals are not into it for money and are not always privy to the real value of tools and materials.

Masonite for air-tight backing behind salvaged 1x sheathing
Materials Purchased
It is hard now to recall all of the good buys but here are some examples that come to mind.  From several tear downs , I have plenty of free salvaged one-by lumber for sheathing the exterior walls, installed old-school on a 45 degree angle. However, in order to pass the blower-door test for air infiltration, the walls will have to be sealed with some sort of sheet goods under the 1x's.  For $3 per sheet, I was able to find 40 sheets of quarter inch Masonite for this purpose (by being recycled, it should no longer be out-gassing VOCs).

I was able to pick up two tempered glass panels for $40 that will serve as two walls of the shower stall.  A high-end screen door will be perfect for the screened porch ($20).  A metal utility shed that retails for $2,500 still in the box for $500 made for a finger-numbing, assembly project a couple of winters ago.  For $25, I found more than enough mint quality lever-style bright brass interior "door knobs" for the entire house.  To our surprise, we were able to find a vintage cast iron farmhouse kitchen sink with right and left drain boards in mint condition for $150.  A cast iron bar sink was $40. (We are still looking for a similar find on a cast iron bathtub and another kitchen sink to use as a "slop sink" in the laundry.)

Freebie Materials -- Some from Craigslist, Some Not
A neighbor contributed six wooden patio doors with insulated glass that will make a south wall should we ever build a greenhouse.  A nearby business provided three 12 foot trailer loads of short 2 x 4's and 3 x 4 sheets of plywood.  Another business had two trailer loads of recyclable lumber and commercial quality solid core doors which will be useful for tables, benches and replacement doors for some of the family's rental properties.  A 1.6 g/f one-piece toilet was a free Craigslist find.  The first tear-down I did was the result of my "Wanted" posting on Craigslist.  

Win Some, Lose Some
One unfortunate Craigslist mistake was enough to offset, in one fell swoop, many of the other good buys so painstakingly accumulated over several years.  I made the mistake of paying for a large, partially-dismantled implement shed then dilly-dallying before tearing it down.  The purchase was made during the worst of the record-breaking cold weather a couple of winter ago.  The building was on property that was in the path of expanding residential development on which a sale was supposedly pending.  The seller assured me, though, that closure of the sale was not imminent so there would be no reason not to postpone the tear-down until the weather moderated.  Unfortunately, the sale morphed into a foreclosure before I could claim the building and the new owner said "we did not sell you anything and we do not give you permission to trespass."   Not only did I lose $800, I squandered the opportunity to obtain enough very long 2 x 12s to do most of the roof of our house as well as shorter 2 x 12s and various other dimension lumber--all better quality than is available now and at half the price.  Now, of course, all of that good lumber will end up in the landfill.

Don't Hesitate--But..........
I would heartily recommend shopping Craigslist.  Not only is it possible to do well financially, but doing so is a green alternative to buying new.  However, be cautious: If possible go immediately to the seller, pay the cash, get a receipt signed, and be prepared to take the purchase with you.  If claiming the purchase will take time, simply pass up the deal.  

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