I’m talking perfectly good second hand tools and materials here! Figuring out how to find good deals for home improvement can be easy if you know what you need and where to look. Being able to negotiate and flexible on timeline can make all the difference too.
What makes for a good deal?
We love to find good deals on items that we don’t necessarily need to buy new. In fact, I think my husband now considers it a stand-alone hobby! Probably 70% of our power tools are now second hand. We have a handful of Dewalt power tools that we bought new, but we now have a used scroll saw, table saw, jig saw, lawn mower, weed eater, garage door, grill, smoker, toilets, dish washer, stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer, … you name it!
But what makes for a good deal? Getting something that works well for a price significantly lower than the cost of buying the same thing brand new is what makes it a good deal!
What kinds of things can you buy used?
Clearly, you can buy almost anything used. If it hasn’t been damaged and still has life left in it, there is no reason not to buy something used, unless it simply isn’t a good deal. Some people list items for sale for too close of a price to the new price, and this usually isn’t worth it. You could just buy it new for a few dollars more, after all. But when an item is available for around half the price of a new one, and the condition is good, this is a steal!
Items that could potentially be any sort of biohazard shouldn’t be bought used generally speaking. But even toilets are commonly bought used and just need a new seat installed. Just use good judgment.
How do I know if it works well enough?
Most items that you would consider buying used can be checked out to see if it is still in good condition. Things like furniture can be pushed, pulled, sniffed, etc to ascertain if it is still sturdy and usable. Tools and appliances can be plugged in and checked out too. If someone won’t let you plug something in, or if they say “as is” without telling you what is wrong with it, that could be a red flag that there’s something significantly wrong with it, and it probably isn’t worth the price. But if the item powers on and looks undamaged and relatively clean when plugged in, odds are it will work well enough for you, at least enough for the deal to be worth it.
What are the risks of buying used?
Of course, you do run the risk of something breaking sooner than new, or having some fault that you couldn’t have spotted on your initial viewing. And since it is second hand it’s not like you have a warranty or a return policy. So those of us who do a lot of second hand purchasing do end up losing a little money here and there when things don’t work out. But that is fairly rare! If anything the greatest risk is the risk of being overjoyed at how much money you saved by buying something used!
Where can I find good deals for home improvement?
My husband does most of the used-goods hunting and gathering, but I help him suss it out from time to time. His favorite resource is the OfferUp app, where people can list their used items for sale. We have purchased so many things this way, and sold quite a few as well!
My most frequent place to buy used is from Facebook Marketplace. It is generally the same concept, but there tend to be more items available simply because of how many people are already on Facebook and don’t want to use a separate app.
Of course there is the age old Craigslist, but that tends to be a little less reliable and people have less accountability for selling something legitimate and of value.
There are other apps where people occasionally list items to sell, like the Next Door community app. And a friend just told me of an app called Freemie Alerts that is specifically for free items and “curb alerts”.
Of course there are plenty of brick and mortar options, from thrift stores to pawn shops, that will have many of the same items you are looking for. Goodwill is great for small appliances. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is one of our favorites because it is almost entirely tools and building materials, with fixtures, appliances, and furniture also at most locations. We are lucky to have one very near our house and there are about 4 more in the surrounding 45 minute drive.
Wherever you choose to look, if you are diligent and check back a couple of times, it is usually fairly easy to find things you’re looking for!
Of course, if you are buying from an individual on such sites, it us fairly common to be able to haggle over the price. Some of our biggest windfalls have come from simply asking if someone would take a little less, and it made the whole project reasonably affordable.
If you’re interested in reading more about how and why we are trying to save money with DIY, I’ve also written about what it means to us to live a DIY lifestyle. I’d love to hear if you have any of the same goals!
Let us know what your secret is to finding good deals on tools and building materials! We will update the posting if we hear of something new!