Reclaiming building materials can give your new self-build home a unique or personal touch and often goes down well with local planners. Here’s how to do it right.
Photo: Jonathan Billinger
Reclaiming building materials or furniture certainly isn’t for all of us but it is definitely an increasing pastime and reclamation yards are big business – there is a good chance that you have one near you wherever you live! Added to this, most of them have an online presence so you can browse at what’s available before you go and have a rummage. You may be looking for something in particular, i.e. floor tiling, floor boards, stone, window frames, wrought iron gates, or you may just enjoy the experience of not knowing what you are looking for until you see it! Reclamation yards can certainly be a treasure trove of amazing finds.
If you want to go down the reclamation route as much as possible there is certainly great satisfaction to be had from finding something that you can re-use and are giving a new lease of life to. Some items are easier to source than others – for instance, timber floorboards are to be found in most reclamation yards but items such as windows or floor tiling would be more difficult. Windows have to fit your particular design and there has to be a sufficient quantity of tiles for the wall or floor you have in mind. People love to buy Victorian tiles but it can take some patience to find exactly what you are looking for in the number you require. Vintage fire surrounds are also another favourite, as well as lighting.
You need to be aware that reclaiming building materials can be expensive so shop around and if you are buying more than one item you should ask for a discount. It is also good advice to ask where the item has come from and whether it will be suitable for what you have in mind. If you are buying something to fit into the structure of your house, i.e. windows, doors, flooring, have a chat with your builder first to ensure that he know how to re-use salvaged materials and is happy to do so.
Charity shops also sell a great variety of objects needing restoration when it comes to furnishing your dream home and repurposing items or looking at where they can be placed only requires the use of your imagination!
Finally, if you now have a burning desire to start delving through recyclable materials, bear in mind that whilst reclamation yards and charity shops are covered by the Consumer Protection Act, this is not universal. If you are tempted by an item for sale via auction or a trade fair, make sure it is exactly right for you as you would be unlikely to get your money back.