Buying Reclaimed Materials
Using reclaimed building materials is a great way to inject character and an individual feel — but how do you know a good deal from a bad one? We round up the best advice from reclamation experts to get you started
Buying reclaimed building materials for your project is a great way to save money and optimise character. We take you through what to watch out for when getting ready to purchase
Salvage or reclamation yards can be treasure troves for self-builders and renovators — full of hidden gems from condemned or demolished old buildings.
From roof slates to lighting, timber beams and old baths, there are a wealth of options out there. However, it can be easy to get carried away, seduced by the apparent historic nature of an item, without fully investigating its quality or suitability for your project. Certain reclaimed building materials are well worth buying, while others require the buyer to exercise a little caution.
Why Buy Reclaimed?
Sometimes, using reclaimed materials can be part of a planning condition — particularly in sensitive areas, or where you are required to fit in with an existing building or the local vernacular. However, many people are simply drawn to the authentic character that reclaimed materials bring to a project — especially when renovating or trying to replicate a house from a particular era.
Reclaimed materials are also a popular choice with those keen to be as eco-friendly as possible — using reclaimed materials is, effectively, recycling. And, finally, if the materials are still in good condition, despite their age, it shows their quality.
Reclamation yard, auction or internet?
While reclamation yards were once the only place to head to source reclaimed materials, there are now several other options.
Auctions remain popular with those seeking authentic goods, although some people are put off by the nail-biting bidding process.
Then, of course, there is the internet. Auction sites such as ebay have meant that reclaimed goods and antiques are easily accessible from the comfort of your armchair — providing you are willing to risk spending money on something you haven’t actually seen or touched, or happy to travel some distance in order to view the item in person.
Visiting a reclamation yard means you can view the materials yourself, ask plenty of questions and even try to barter on price. You can also expect to find pieces that have already been restored or reconditioned, meaning less elbow grease for you.
Some reclamation yards have a particular speciality, such as windows and doors, bricks and roof tiles or flooring, and the staff will usually be knowledgeable about the stock, giving peace of mind.
Unlike a shop selling new products, you may have to wait some time for a particular item to come into stock, so regularly visiting or calling the
yard is a good idea — as is leaving your details and what you are looking for so that the staff can notify you when something suitable comes into stock.
Which Reclaimed mateRials should you Buy?
Salvage and reclamation yards can be sources for all sorts of building materials, fixtures and fittings — from period bricks and tiles, to doors and floorboards. There will also be items that you might not have thought about buying reclaimed, such as sanitaryware and brassware.
You need to pay close attention to quality, value for money (the popularity of reclaimed materials has seen prices soar) and durability.
In the case of materials that will form the fabric of your new home, such as bricks and roof tiles, you need to be aware that they will have already used up some of their original lifespan — they have taken a battering from the elements, so investigate their integrity to ascertain how much life they still have in them.
Other items, such as sanitaryware, lighting and radiators, may require alterations to ensure they are compatible with modern plumbing, electric and heating systems — check that they will be fit for your purposes before buying.