Super-Cheap Building Supplies and a Way to Help Your Community!

by Linsey Knerl on 31 October 2007 9 comments
Photo: Sam Felder

I’ll admit that my family is the “cobbling” kind of people. Our depression-era farm house was slapped together in a sturdy, but irregular fashion. So when it comes time to replace windows, doors, or other basic components, we try to do it as cheaply as possible. Last week I discovered ReStore (a project of Habitat for Humanity), and I will never shop for home improvements supplies the same way again!

Habitat ReStores are retail outlets where building supply and home improvement companies can donate their quality leftovers for resale to the public. Think “Goodwill” for the DIY’er – these stores have it all! While a little jumbled (you will need to dig around a bit to find what you really want), they have aisles for bathroom fixtures, appliances, tile, windows, doors, décor, lighting, paint, hardware, and more!

In addition to providing extra funds for the Habitat for Humanity buildings – some Restores generate enough money to build an additional 10 homes per year – the outlets promote environmental responsibility by allowing quality building materials to be recycled.

While they have a large assortment of used materials, here are some of the brand-new finds we saw at our local Omaha ReStore:

 

  • Pella brand Double-Hung Windows and Doors (originally $1800 – marked down to $500)
  • 5 Gallons of Exterior Paint for $20
  • Boxes of Laminate flooring for $22
  • Chandeliers starting at $60
  • Boxes of Tile for $10
  • Spa tubs for $500

 

Did I mention that our family of six FINALLY owns a dishwasher? After many years of begging and pleading with my husband, we brought home a nice pre-owned dishwasher from our Omaha ReStore for $60!

For the ReStore near you, and an opportunity to get some great deals on those last-minute storm windows or insulation for your home, visit your local Habitat for Humanity website and look for the ReStore link. (And for a taste of what ReStore has to offer, check out this online tour of the St. Louis ReStore!)

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Myscha Theriault's picture

Got a lot of great stuff there. Saved a lot of money to boot. I even got to know "the guy" and he would call me when certain things would come in that he knew we were looking for. These are a great resource, for sure.

Andrea Karim's picture

Hey, Linsey, I thought the whole point of having kids was to make THEM do the dishes? Not that I would begrudge anyone a dishwasher.

I'm kind of embarrassed that I had never heard of a ReStore, despite giving to HFH for years. Thanks! 

Linsey Knerl's picture

I totally agree that kids should do the dishes... but until they invent a lead-free kid's sized sink and scrubbers for tots under 4, I'm out of luck.. (My 8 year old is HORRIBLE at washing dishes.)

And don't feel bad about now knowing about the ReStore.. we just learned about it and had to visit.  I drove by it several times and had no idea what treasures lay in store!

Note:  The folks that work (volunteer) there are awesome!

Guest's picture
Lucille

I finally ventured in the one in our town after we bought a fixer upper last year. I try to stop by when I do payday shopping just to see what is in. Last time I was in there they had bins full of brand new aluminum mini blinds, the better ones. I have started keeping a running list of things we need now so I can sort against what is in there.

My favorite find was a brass drop pendant light. It looked all ugly and outdated. I took it apart, sanded a bit, painted it with hammered bronze spray paint and it looks like one I saw at Home Depot for $200. $5 for the light, $3 for the paint.

Ours has furniture and decor items from time to time too.

Guest's picture
sylrayj

Our local ReStore has a deal going with AlCan - I'm not sure what it is, exactly, but they take pop cans and I think they get good money for recycling the aluminum. We can only get out there on the weekend, but we've got a box with crushed pop cans ready for them when we can.

Guest's picture
Marie

In my town the local animal shelter has yard sales for fund-raisers, and whatever they have left after the sale, they donate to the Habitat Re-Sale store. It is nice when they are struggling so that they are still able to try and help other organizations. Over the summer, the shelter was broken into by people trying to steal rescued pit bulls. There was a good bit of damage. They contacted to Re-Sale store to see if they would give the shelter a new front door, since they had made donations in the past. The shelter director was told that they only accept donations from the community, they do not give back. Nice. Thanks, anyway. I'll find my treasures somewhere else!

Guest's picture
Dave

I too am unaware of thrift stores or ReStores, as HFH's are called, fulfilling donation requests. The good thing about a thrift store having something another non-profit wants/needs is it is probably available at a good price. Perhaps a thrifty supporter would like to buy the door and donate it!

Linsey Knerl's picture

While I certainly don't know the policies of ALL non-profits, I am not surprised that the local Re-Store was unable to assist with donating supplies.  They have some very strict policies in place, not because they are heartless (they do make sure that proceeds of the sales of all items go towards the Habitat cause), but because I'm sure they would have to be fair in their policies of donating to everyone or donating to no one.  Additionally, this would be very similar to policies in place at your local Goodwill or Salvation Army that keep them from giving their merchandise away.  They make their money by taking donations, not giving them.

 

On the other hand, I'm sure you could find out where the Re-Store gets their donated materials from and request assistance from them directly.  Our local store had lots from Lowe's and some local construction companies.  If you were to ask them for any doors that they didn't need, they might be happy to help out! 

Myscha Theriault's picture

There's a gentleman up the road from us on the next lake that will come and take away items you are ripping out or tearing down. We've given him tons of stuff as we have been paring down the cottage to have more breathing room, and he has done a few chain saw / stump grinding things for us. Win-win.