Tips and Tricks for Finding Local Recycled Building Materials
Monitor Dumpsters at Local Construction Sites.
Some homebuilders are very wasteful, and will pitch lots of scrap lumber in the dumpster. If you don't mind washing off the Big Gulp and caulk residue, you can usually find some decent structual timber at the typical job site. Who cares if it is covered in paint? It's going to be hidden behind drywall anyway. Be wary of trespassing on private property - ask permission first. Also, be careful not to step on nails or get cut by discarded razorblades and scrap metals while dumpster diving.
Search Local Newspaper Listings.
Keep an eye on the classifieds, moving and estate sales. People don't usually list salvage items in their yard sales, but you can call and ask if they have anything that you can use for your construction project.
If you live near a historic district, watch for public hearings for remodels that homeowners need to have approved. Not only might you score some usable material, but it will probably have lots of character due to its age and vintage craftsmanship.
In addition, watch for public notices from government offices. Many city municipal departments post construction bid requests in the newspaper. You can call and ask what they plan on doing with the material being replaced. Government buildings are so large that even if half of the material is unusable, you still may be able to salvage enough for your residential project. And they're usually happy to have someone take it off of their hands, saving the cost of pick-up and disposal.
Track Local Homes that are For Sale.
As soon as you see a "contract pending" or "sold" sign, give them a call. Everybody has stuff in their basement or garage that they don't want to move with them to their new home. It could be an old solid wood door, or some salvage windows. They may just let you have it (free!) if you are willing to haul it off for them.