Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reuse, Recycle, ReStore

We moved into our new house about 4 months ago, and little by little we're figuring out just where everything will go and how we'll use each room.  But one area of the house currently has a purpose that is still entirely temporary. For the past several weeks, the basement has been a chicken coop construction zone, complete with sawdust, power tools, and stacks of repurposed lumber.

Neither of us can claim to have much experience with carpentry, but as we are constantly telling ourselves, "I don't think the chickens will care." So maybe each wall won't be perfectly straight because some of the old playset boards are a little warped or cracked, but they can still be useful. And just because we didn't want a backyard playset, doesn't mean that all of the boards are ready for the landfill.

With that in mind, we decided to check out the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity's ReStore a couple of weeks ago.  The ReStore is stocked with a random collection of building materials that have been donated to Habitat for Humanity. When they recieve these donations, they first try to put them to use in the homes that they build. But sometimes they get donations that aren't quite what they need, and those items end up at the ReStore. The ReStore sells to the public, and uses the money to help support Habitat for Humanity's efforts to provide homes to people in need. There are ReStore outlets located in many major cities throughout the United States and Canada.

Walking into the ReStore is like entering a hardware store crossed with a flea market. Everything's organized, but since the donations are so random, inventory totally varies over time. One week there might be pallets full of ceramic tiles and landscaping blocks; another visit might yield a glut of bathtubs. It's a bit of an adventure to see what might be in stock on any given day. Some of the items at the ReStore are salvaged from a previous home, and just waiting for someone to find a new purpose for them. But they also have lots of new materials, so if you have a project at your home, it's worth stopping by to browse around.  You never know what you might find.

We're trying to build the chicken coop inexpensively, and as we mentioned while building our compost bin, we like to find the worth in "worthless" things. We spent quite a bit of time strolling up and down the aisles, back and forth across the store. We didn't know exactly what we hoped to find, but a couple of interesting items made their way home with us.

When Stacia drew pictures of the chicken coop, she included a crossbuck style door, just to add a little country charm to the design. She wasn't really thinking that concept would come to life exactly as drawn, but as fate would have it, we stumbled upon the perfect door hiding in a stack of perfectly ordinary doors. It's not the prettiest color, but it's structurally solid, and cost us just twenty-five dollars.  With a fresh coat of paint it'll grace the front of our coop quite nicely.

And while we initially wanted to find windows for the coop, we happened upon three like the one pictured that will have a rather different destination. Coop windows need to slide open for ventilation, but once we saw the big, plain wood-framed windows with no screens, we knew they had to go into our cold frame. We'll certainly talk more about cold frames as we work on building ours, but in short they're mini-greenhouses used to extend the growing season. These simple panes are perfect for a cold frame, and they were only five bucks a pop.

We didn't find quite the right windows for the chicken coop that day, but with new donations coming in all the time, we'll be sure to stop by again. Maybe another time we'll find just the right windows to complete our chicken coop project.  Or maybe we'll stumble upon the raw materials (and inspiration) to build something else entirely. Whatever building supplies you might be looking for, a trip to the ReStore is a treasure hunt that's definitely worth checking out.

1 comment:

  1. We should have added a safety disclaimer. We don't know how old the door is, so there is a possibility that it's coated in a lead-based paint. For that reason, we'll use a primer designed to prep painted surfaces, rather than sanding it. Don't ever sand painted surfaces that were (or could have been) painted prior to 1976.