Home>Discussions>NEW DIY IDEAS>Salvage>Why are salvage items so expensive?
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Re: Why are salvage items so expensive?

I know that in our area we have a non-for profit radiator warehouse where you go and pick the one you want for about 30$ or less and it is in an effort to recycle :)

I like older things because they last for ever.
VS. anything installed new. The older items seem to have better design, and better installation.

Suffice it to say, the school where I work, a federal style building with a copula and all, has been recently renovated in that we now have central air/heat vs. the old radiators. I am suffering from the devastation to that building. :(

Thank God they are too poor to tear down the whole building. And the workers had mercy and covered over some of the better features in the building, vs. ripping them out (wooden floors, bay window seating, etc...) It kills me how they tear down our old city, and the antebellum mansion I visited and played in as a little girl :(

I wish our historical societies got more funding than they do.
Around here we need them.

I think the reason why salvage companies charge more is because they can.
Most people who buy houses to restore is because they have the extra money. It is a hobby of the elite.
The sinks that I found in my research are being bought up by the Boston and NYC brown stone and Victorian home owners.
They have money to spare.
The sink I have is valued at 375 with hardware.
I think that is preposterous. I am only selling my sink for 200 so I can give a homeowner who values vintage porcelain bathroom facilities a break. That is almost half price.

I am trying to sell it to a homeowner, but they are hard to find, since they go to stores to search for their treasures. In the stores, the same sink would be about 500+ just because it is in a store and they blame overhead/rent/etc...

I am just trying to find it a home.
I know that store owners also think, If I sell one piece it will give me what I need to cover this or that expense to stay in business. So they hike the price of their wares, knowing that one sale, vs. several, will give them their quota for the month.

Re: Why are salvage items so expensive?

I love to go to my local Habitat for Humanity Restore. I have purchased many different things there like door knobs, vanities, light fixtures, and so on. I have never felt like I over paid for any of it. In fact, I have even got things cheaper by asking for a reduced price.


Re: Why are salvage items so expensive?
KCM wrote:

Does anyone know of a salvage company in the Eastern Shore area of Mayland? I have a friend who purchased an 1940's 7 Bedroom , 7 Bathroom estate. He plans on tearing it down and building a new home. I was in it last week and noticed this home has a lot of old materials ( window, doors, plank flooring, tubs, pedestal sinks tec..) I believe there is someont out there who would love to have these kind of materials.

It doesn't have to be a salvage company. If you know anyone in that area looking for salvage materials, let me know.



Kevin...I have never been to this place, but the local old house salvage store I go to visits this place in Baltimore fairly often. http://www.secondchanceinc.org/index.aspx?u=Location

They have nothing but wonderful things to say about the place. They may have a crew come right to your friends home & disassemble parts to salvage & fill some trucks. They are a 100% non-profit, with efforts on workforce training.

Your friend might not get $$ for his items from the company, but he can certainly write off all that's taken on his taxes.

It's a win-win all the way around.

Re: Why are salvage items so expensive?

From the little experience I have, another factor is the time that goes into negotiating and contracting with who ever the home owner is who is selling the salvage from their tear-down. A salvage person would have to weed through and visit many different sites to see how much vintage stuff is in there they can actually USE, come to terms with the owner, etc. It's not like all that stuff is just neatly sitting by the side of the road, somewhere, and the store owner simply moved it to their store.

Some items are very heavy to remove and transfer, too...like a cast iron clawfoot tub or old built-in cabinetry.

The other reason these things are costly is the originals are never going to be made again (obviously). They become scarcer and scarcer as time goes by. There was lots or vintage salvage available in the 1970's, then less in the 1980's, then less in the 1990's etc. The price goes up as more and more time passes...

Re: Why are salvage items so expensive?

A few things that I've observed:

  1. Salvaging old building materials and fixtures is very labor intensive. Special techniques are required to safely remove (and restore) old things without permanent damage, and the labor of restoration may exceed the cost of new construction.
  2. Salvage yards often hang onto inventory for YEARS. Your average big-box is looking to move goods off the shelf in a matter of weeks. The longer an item sits on the shelf, the more profitable it must be to account for the rent, utilities, and management overhead.
  3. Simple economics of supply and demand. There are a lot of people who want quality, vintage houseparts while the supply is limited. Just like at an auction, you will find out who's willing to pay a premium.
Re: Why are salvage items so expensive?
Labraham wrote:

How come salvaged items (that would have been on there way to the garbage) are so expensive? I have seen door knobs for up to $35 and windows for over $200, with these price listings it seems cheaper to buy new. Is the high cost of salvaged building materials just a result of it being trendy right now????

Because antique stores and salvage outfits have raised the level of pricing on this stuff to what I consider to be the European fine art import level, if you thought $35 for a doorknob was pricey try $350 for an ornate doorknob now!
You now see those old common "public school city of New York" doorknobs all over Ebay every week selling for $150 and more.

It's become totally ridiculous because they are repaidly pricing themselves out of the market to where high quality reproductions can be made of many items now for less.
There's no way a door knob can cost $350 to cast in bronze.

As a sculptor of Victorian architectural ornaments and a collector of the antique pieces I have seen these items priced through the roof now, with $1200 for a common keystone with a face on it being about normal, I can hand sculpt one from photos for that and make copies.

Also, due to the insane prices on not only salvage but metals such as copper and brass- there is a huge problem with theft, churches reporting copper flashing and gutters being stripped in the night for scrap, cemetaries and public parks reporting ornate antique iron gates, bronze markers and plaques, fountain heads, faucetts and more being stolen for scrap.
One landmark hotel in Detroit that was sitting vacant had over 50 terracotta lion sculptures stolen, just ripped out of the brick walls over time and sold to a Chicago salvage dealer who the FBI and police eventually recovered about 30 of them from.
All of the aluminum window frames were ripped out- hundreds of them, the huge gabled copper roof was completely stripped of the copper and the building is now so deteiorated from rain leaking in that it's beyond saving this Art Deco masterpiece now.

People will have to be aware now that when they buy salvage they may be contributing to the ongoing theft and destruction, and may in fact also be buying stolen goods.

Re: Why are salvage items so expensive?

I once worked at a shop where there was a sign that said "Used Parts Policy" at the top and followed with something like this:
"I hunt it, find it, buy it, check it, clean it, fix it, test it, stock it, maintain it, and then sell it to you. With this much work involved, why do you expect me to sell it for any less?"

Some of this holds true for building salvage items too and at best, the seller is tying up their money in the things you see for an unknown amount of time waiting for them to sell while the bills keep coming in regularly. Scarcity and demand add to this and with reuse of the old is becoming quite popular these days it's become a seller's market and priced accordingly.

The bottom line is always whether you want something bad enough to pay the price being asked and whether you have any alternatives to choose from.


Re: Why are salvage items so expensive?
RD Wolff wrote:

One landmark hotel in Detroit that was sitting vacant had over 50 terracotta lion sculptures stolen, just ripped out of the brick walls over time and sold to a Chicago salvage dealer who the FBI and police eventually recovered about 30 of them from.

It doesn't sound like the property owner was doing a very good job of securing and maintaining their valuable building.


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