Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Budgeting for a Re-Use Project

Post by Bonnie.

Setting a budget for the T.O. project was very simple.  After Joe shared his grand vision, I simply said "Ok fine, if you can do it all for less than $1,000 then go for it."  Of course, I never dreamed he would actually be able to stick to that, therefore the project would be done before it began.  Little did I know, Joe was very dedicated to making this thing happen!

I could have said $500. I could have said $3,000.  I could have looked at our finances and determined what we could actually afford.  That's all in the past now, and we have rallied around the $1,000 number, making it more than just a budget.  It's a goal.  It's part of the adventure. It's...a challenge.

Planning any sort of project with primarily reclaimed, used, re-purposed materials can be extremely difficult.  You never know what sorts of deals you will find, which items you can find for free, and what you will have to end up purchasing.   

Don't give in. 

It is so easy to run up to Lowes or Home Depot and get brand new lumber, lighting, windows, etc. etc. etc.  But if you are committed to building responsibly and creatively, then take the time to do the research, check back one.last.time. on Craiglist, and wait.

Some of the amazing deals we got because Joe was patient and thorough include:
- A beautiful 15-light glass door w/ jam salvaged from a project just last week
- Over 30 leftover 2x10's from a construction site, found by a good friend
- Free pallets found all around town!

Unfortunately, since we were unable to get the T.O. enclosed for the winter, the progress on the floor has been damaged and will have to be redone.  The good news? Joe didn't spend one penny on those materials. And he doesn't plan to spend a penny on the replacement materials.  Did it cost us in frustration and grumpiness? Perhaps.  (But who can budget for those things...)

Tips for how to stay in budget:
- Barter. Trade your skills, or even something you own, in exchange for what you need for the project.  Joe was able to barter several hours of construction labor for the garage doors we are using for the TO roof.
- Research in advance. You have to be realistic about what you think you can find for free, and what you will have to purchase.  Research how much things cost, don't just guess! For example, in the TO we are purchasing insulation from The Loading Dock.  Instead of thinking it would be "around $__", Joe did the calculations (cost/sq.ft. x sq.ft. needed) so we know exactly how much it will cost.
- Ask. You would be shocked at how much STUFF people have laying around their homes that they are just dying to give a handy, crafty person such as yourself!

Good luck!


  1. This inspires me to surf craigslist for my fire-pit project

    1. Do it, Phil! You will be amazed at what you can find. You can also hop on your local Freecycle, and swing by Community Forklift.