Where to buy and sell used building materials

Finding used building materials on classified lists and through online brokers

Recycled building materials
Recycled building materials image via Blu Trumpet

When buildings are decommissioned there can be a lot of valuable materials that could be used again, but when buyers can’t find sellers, otherwise usable materials are being sent to a land fill. There is a growing amount of used building materials that can be found at online classified websites such as Craigslist and Kijiji, but finding what you are looking for can be very hit and miss.

Sustainabuild Canada is a company that connects buyers with contractors disassembling old buildings. Not all the materials can be salvaged, but much of it can. Through the website you can search by category and location; you can also put in a request for certain materials and receive notification when something is available in your region. This saves usable building materials from ending up in landfills, and from a financial perspective, both parties win here. Rather than paying to remove and dispose of building materials that still have life in them, contracting companies can instead receive a cheque in hand when someone comes to pick up the material.

Most of the materials available at Sustainabuild Canada come from decommissioned commercial buildings rather than houses, as the quantities available are worth the effort of involving a broker. But for residential builders looking to acquire inexpensive building materials such as insulation and flooring etc, this is a great place to look.

Reclaimed foam insulation boards
Reclaimed foam insulation boards © Michel Chenier

The adjacent stack of 2x8’ by 4” XPS foam insulation was purchased through an online classified website for $3 a sheet, whereas purchased new in a building supply store would retail for about $50 a sheet. 

It doesn’t take a calculator to know that that’s a pretty good deal, even if it requires a truck rental and some travelling time. It's dirty looking (but who cares) and the corners are not as sharp as they would be new but that is easily rectified with a can of spray foam after they are installed. Not every deal will necessarily be that great, but there is for sure money to save if you do a little digging.