Those Old Floors Are Worth What?!? A Salvage Story.

Ah, spring. In Victoria, this season is synonymous with the storied tradition of counting cherry blossoms (17 years of living here and I still don't get the math); daffodils in bloom on the slopes of Beacon Hill Park; and tourists shyly re-emerging to saturate the downtown streets.

Of course, no spring would be complete without disposal bins populating our residential driveways en masse. Yep, it's renovation season, folks!

I'm actually quite thrilled to count our driveway among this season's 'freshly binned.' Demolition lasted a full three weeks and saw the arrival and departure of four blue monstrosities. It could have been worse (as in, even more bins-worth of trash)...except for the fact that not everything needed to bee-line it to the dump.

There's some truth to the old adage that one person's trash is another person's treasure. Remember those 50-year-old teak kitchen cabinets pictured in my last blog entry? With no expectation of successfully foisting them on anyone, I posted an ad on Used Victoria, our local buy-and-sell. Within one hour, I'd received more than a dozen eager replies. Whaaaat? The cabinets ended up in the hands of a skilled woodworker, giddy over his good fortune in finding some beautiful project materials for his mid-century modern home. It was the perfect win-win.

Other things I've learned about salvage over the past two months:

  1. There's a market for old flooring. Underneath our mint green and red carpets, we found about 500 square feet of fir and oak in good condition. Though our particular reno plans didn't include a refinishing project, I discovered that our city is rife with vintage flooring aficionados preferring the old to the new. Moreover, if you call a salvage company, someone will actually come to your house, remove and de-nail the floors for free, then pay you for the goods. The net result: a) cool, old floors can live again;  b) no landfill guilt; c) $$ saved on demo labour; d) $$ in your pocket. Genius.
  2. Appliances are worth something! Even older appliances, such as the almond-coloured stove that came with our house, may have some intrinsic value. Though it certainly wasn't pretty, the stove was 24" wide--perfect for its new owner, who used it for his small basement suite kitchen. If you're stuck with old appliances that are too far gone to sell, recycling options exist for many of them.
  3. Even if you are trying to give something away for free (or cheap), take the time to shine it up first. Saving materials from the landfill takes a little effort. Even if you're offering up a freebie on Used Victoria or Craigslist, if it's dirty or otherwise looks like junk, you'll have a harder time finding someone willing to take it. Good quality photos vs those that are blurry and dark also help when posting freebie ads online.
  4. Charities may need your stuff. Habitat For Humanity's ReStore retail locations are a great place to donate good quality household and renovation items. Just remember: they're not a dumping ground for the patently unsellable.

At the end of the day, even though the demo/ disposal process is messy and often necessary, if you can save a few old items from a fate shared with mouldy mattresses and rotting orange peels, that's a good thing. Every bit helps...and maybe you can pocket a few $$ in the process, too!

p.s.--we pocketed enough to buy a dishwasher for the new kitchen. Hurray for clean dishes!