How to Remodel your House by Thrifting - Part 1

Unexpectedkindness is themost powerful,least costly, andmost underratedagent of humanchange.png

Janelle here!  So truth be told, I'm a bit of a bloodhound when it comes to finding a deal.  Not sure what it says about me, and it makes me feel all uncomfortably materialistic, but, it's true. Whether it's sweaters, baby gear or makeup, I just don't pay full price for it. I can't remember the last time I bought clothes for myself(or family) at full price. 

Now that we are knee deep in renovating our houses it was only a matter of weeks before I began to sniff out the best places to find discount materials for remodeling. Let me pass on my learnings and savings to you. :) 

Garage Sales

garage sale


When John and I were first dating, I asked if we could go to a garage sale together. He rolled his eyes, agreed, and I took him along. I don't think he knew what he had agreed to. " You ain't garage saleing with your grandma anymore!!!!" He calls me the pirate queen of the garage sale seas (just laugh along, he thinks he's funny :)  Sometimes friends and family have asked to bring me along to show them the ropes. Since I can't come to your house with  a starbucks to go and a list of garage sales, I'll just have to pass on my knowledge to you with a bullet list (you can pour coffee for yourself before reading if you want to pretend)

Here's some garage sale tips for AWESOME finds on remodeling materials (and really anything)

  • Make a list...and TRY to keep it - John's laughing at me as I write this. I'm kinda bad at this one. But in my defense...most people at garage sales don't come with a list at all!!  At least I mostly stick to my list.  My list is not something I come up with the night before I go out to a garage sale. I develop the list year long. For example, I know my son will need new shoes in the fall. It goes on the list now in January and I begin watching for shoes at all my sources. During garage sale season (May-August) I watch for shoes, and will buy them if I find them at a garage sale. I generally try to keep my list only 6months out. This means I'm not buying something for our house I know we won't use for another 3 years. This is how we found the siding we used on our house .  The siding went on the list and I started watching. I found it a month later, and we bought it. We didn't do the siding for another 5 months from when we bought it. 

  • Map It out -  Before I ever leave the house in the morning I check the local newspaper, craigslist listings and a few facebook groups that I follow for any garage sale listings. I write down the addresses for all the listings that sound like they have materials from my list. I star ones that sound extra promising. Then, if I'm feeling really dedicated, I'll punch in the addresses to google maps. I quickly figure out a general loop that hits most of them in roundhouse order and then number my addresses based off that loop. When I'm in the car I go by my numbers, and it takes me in a way more efficient pattern. Time is money when it comes to garage sales, so you don't want to waste it driving back and forth across town. 
  • Get comfortable haggling - This comes in handy especially if you are shopping near the end of the garage sale day. If you've never put on your own garage sale, just know, most people spend HOURS tagging and pricing all that inventory you are looking through. When 4pm rolls around and half of it is still there, they don't want to put it back in their house. They also don't really want to lose money off of it and just donate it. Here's some general haggling guidelines

- "If I buy all of these _________ will you give me a discount? "

- Round down . Instead of $4.50 ask if they'll do it for $4.00. Fifty cents might not seem like a lot, but if you do it every time you buy something at a garage sale, it's like using a coupon to buy milk, every time. It adds up

- I noticed this "defect" would you consider doing less for it? - Be careful not to insult their item, since it may have sentimental value. 

  • Do a drive by - Remember how I said time is money when it comes to garage sales? The time it takes you to get out, park the car, walk up the driveway, and locate the materials you are looking for - you may loose out on what you were really looking for in the first place. You also risk the chance of impulse buying when you go to a garage sale that doesn't have anything that catches your eye from the drive by.  So I recommend if you aren't sure about a sale to drive by the house slowly (like a straight up creeper friends!) and look to see if you see anything. 
  • Avoid the impulse buy: This goes a little back to the list making. Let me just say that there are weeks that I have hit up garage sales every Saturday and never bought anything. It can feel a little discouraging to go to all that work of mapping everything out, and hitting all duds. But, what money are you saving by just buying things you don't really need? I'm still developing self-control in this area. This is especially important to practice if you are going to a neighborhood garage sale. I almost never go to neighborhood sales without a very clear list in my mind. 
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Match your merchandise with your neighborhood: Now that you have your list, you need to find the people who have those things. Are you looking for a pottery barn rug and decor from anthropologie? Watch closely for sales in fancier and higher end neighborhoods. There aren't a lot around my area that hit the really high end, but a few years ago I hit some in the suburbs of chicago and I walked away with decor and home furnishings from west elm and pottery barn for only a few bucks. Are you looking for a kitchsy item or something with a distressed look? Antiques often come from people who well...are antiqued. Figure out where the "older" more established neighborhoods are. For example, we live right behind a retirement home. Their clothing racks usually aren't worth glancing at but I have discovered gorgeous antiques and jewelry. 

A few specific places you are going to want to look when looking for building supplies and home decor are moving sales and estate sales. These sometimes will have hardware and building materials. 

Alrighty, those were my main points on hitting up garage sales, but we are just getting started friends! My thrifting roots go deep and my accumlated knowledge...vast :) Check back soon for part 2 of how to remodel your house by thrifting.

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Until next time!