In an effort to both save money and upcycle materials, we recently remodeled our kitchen using Craig’s List finds.
While we were able to save $10,000 on our remodel, there were definite lessons we learned.
1. IT TAKES TIME
You will need time to find everything you need and/or want for your kitchen if you are relying on Craig’s List finds.
It was 16 months between the time we found the perfect kitchen cabinets on Craig’s List to the time they were actually installed in our home.
This is where you really need to embrace the hunt. New items are listed every day and trust me when I say there is good stuff out there just waiting for the right buyer. Patience and persistence will be required to find just the right items.
Make sure you know these 9 Tips for Searching Craig’s List like a pro and you will be well on your way to the kitchen (or bath, or dining room, or laundry room…) of your dreams.
2. YOU MAY NEED STORAGE
While we waited to start work on our kitchen, we needed a place to put our cabinets before we installed them. For us, it meant the cabinets lived in one side of the garage and a car was parked outside.
My best advice to you is to have a plan for where your purchases will be stored and make sure you will be able to live with the arrangements for an extended period of time.
3. YOU MAY NEED TO KISS A FEW FROGS BEFORE FINDING YOUR PRINCE
Not everything on Craig’s List is “as advertised.” In fact, there are a lot of items that might look great in a picture, that aren’t so great in real life. And not everyone fully discloses the truth.
We found a stove I really, really wanted because I just knew from the description it was going to be absolutely perfect. The listing was an hour away in Denver. We found a Saturday to drive up and take a look.
Once we arrived, we found the stove was not at all as advertised and ended up walking away.
While we were disappointed, it is part of the process. After all, once you install something in your kitchen, you will want to live with it for a long time. Make sure it is something you can truly live with for an extended period of time.
This was when I learned to ask for more pictures if the ones in the listing weren’t clear enough. Motivated sellers won’t hesitate to snap a few more and send them to you.
It took several tries, but we finally found the perfect stove on Craig’s List
4. MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE
You need to know the exact measurements of your kitchen, as well as the exact measurements of your Craig’s List purchase to make sure everything will fit.
This was a HUGE fail on my part.
When we purchased our cabinets off Craig’s List, I was given the measurements of all the cabinets from the seller.
Only they weren’t all the correct measurements. I was told the measurement for the sink base was 33 inches.
It wasn’t. It was only 30 inches.
When did we discover this? Upon installation. I never double checked the measurements!!!
Fortunately, it didn’t really affect the layout of the kitchen. However, if more than one cabinet had been a different size from what I was told it was, it could have potentially blown the entire kitchen layout.
While it didn’t affect the layout of the kitchen, it did mean I had to purchase a special sized sink at full cost. It also meant I could only purchase a sink with one basin – not the two basin sink I really wanted.
The moral of the story is you must measure everything and be precise in your measurements in order for the layout of your kitchen to really work.
Although I didn’t measure the sink base, it all worked out in the end.
5. CONSIDER HOW YOU WILL GET YOUR PURCHASES HOME
This is another case where you need to measure your purchases.
Remodeling a kitchen using Craig’s List means you will have many oversized purchases that won’t fit into the trunk of a car.
We ended up renting a U-haul to pick up the cabinets we purchased. It wasn’t a large expense, but it was an expense.
6. KNOW WHEN TO HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
The installation of the kitchen cabinets was beyond our capabilities. Our home was built in the 50s and the floor is no longer level and the walls all have a bit of wave to them.
We are good at a lot of things, but construction projects are not one of them. Hanging pictures is about the only home improvement project we can truly say we’ve mastered.
Hiring a contractor to help with the installation of the kitchen meant a professional finish job that will last.
Our kitchen remodel in progress.
7. COUNT THE PARTS
Again, this is a lesson we learned so that you don’t have to.
When we went to install the kitchen cabinets, we realized we were missing an entire drawer! Luckily, we had hired a professional to do the kitchen install. He was able to craft one and a crisis was averted.
But if you take the time to make sure you have all the parts when making your Craig’s List purchase, you will be ahead of the game!
8. DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE MAKING A PURCHASE
One of the items we needed for our new kitchen layout was a new stove.
Any time a listing for a stove that met my specifications came up on Craig’s List, I immediately researched the product reviews for that particular stove.
This research project allowed me to identify any known flaws with the product. Did 150 people complain about the noisiness of the internal fan? Chance are the stove you just found on Craig’s List will have a noisy internal fan.
9. BE WILLING TO CLEAN
Wouldn’t you think if you were trying to sell something you’d clean it first?
Not so much.
Do a fair assessment of your find – is this surface grime or is it indicative of an appliance that was not cared for?
Surface grime you can deal with, neglect you can’t.
The interior of our new stove needed cleaning.
10. NEGOTIATE BUT DON’T INSULT (AND DON’T EXPECT A MIRACLE)
When I negotiate, I always start by asking, “Is this the best you can do on the price?”
If you have a price in mind that you are willing to pay, give the seller some incentive to take your offer. For example, you might have the cash with you and the ability to haul off your purchase right then. This could entice a seller to take your offer.
Please note: When the seller states in their listing that the price is non-negotiable, they mean it. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean you can’t tell them the price you are willing to pay. Leave them with your contact information and let them know if they haven’t sold by the end of the week, the month, the whatever timeframe, that your offer will be good for that time period.
You never know if your offer will look good after the listing has lingered with no buyers.
Using Craig’s List saved us a substantial amount on our remodel, and we are pleased with the results. My hope is that you will take what we learned and use it to upcycle materials for your next remodel project!