Monday, July 15, 2013

How to Get Your Kitchen Demo Done for Free

Get Your Kitchen Demo Done for Free...

and feel good about it at the same time!


You're ready to put in a brand new kitchen... but what do you do with the old one?


Want to know how we scored a kitchen demo for free? Here's the background: we had secured the funds for some updates on our home. But even with a designated budget, we needed to be careful about how we spent every dollar. We realized that the most cost-effective option was to DIY-it, but we couldn't do all the work ourselves (esp. electrical, plumbing).  We decided to hire contractors for the bigger tasks, but still, we wanted to DIY what we could.

One of the tasks we decided to take on was the kitchen (e.g., new flooring, cabinets, counters, and a couple appliances). After pricing out a few cabinet and countertop options, we decided to use Ikea for the bulk of the updates (bonus: we waited until their annual kitchen sale to save 10%). 

Here was the plan: Ben would conquer the kitchen demo, build and install the new cabinets (and appliances), and lay the new floors (LOL did I say WE were doing the DIY?).  But don't get all judgmental, I did end up helping him out... especially with this part!

Because I hate to put good things to waste, (plan #1 was to rent a dumpster for the kitchen demo), I decided to take pics of everything we were replacing (cabinets, sink, counters, oven, dishwasher, microwave), and list them on Craigslist for free.  I didn't want to throw this stuff out, but I definitely wanted it gone, so I tried to take some decent pics for the listing, hoping I would entice someone. I posted it in the "Free" and "Materials" sections. Here's how it looked:

The CL text read: 
  • We are renovating our kitchen and getting rid of our old cabinets, gas stove/oven, microwave, and dishwasher (basically everything but the refrigerator). You can even have the kitchen sink if you want it! It's all in decent shape. Certainly a bit dated, but it all works.
  •  Only a few small issues: (1) Bottom of under-sink cabinet is warped, would need to be fixed; (2) Lazy Suzan shelves need to be fixed (3) Sometimes when the oven is on and you start the stove burner, it shorts out the oven and clock, but as soon as you turn the oven back on, it's fine. (4) Obviously, some cosmetic issues, but those just come with time.
  • We want to get rid of it all this week so we can build the new stuff. Preference given to those willing to remove it all themselves.
As you can see, I listed the kitchen in its entirety, and because I wasn't sure if I'd get any response, I also listed all of the appliances separately. I had only gotten as far as listing the oven, microwave, and dishwasher when my inbox started EXPLODING (by the time I removed the ads 12 hours later, I had over 200 emails). 

I had offers to take everything, just certain things, offers to remove it all, even a couple offers from licensed contractors willing to remove it all. I was now in a position to be picky, so I immediately eliminated anyone who didn't want it all and/or couldn't do the removal themselves. I called the first person who met my criteria and talked with him for a few minutes (I think this step is REALLY important so you can get a sense of who you're dealing with), and we set up a pick-up date for the weekend. Unfortunately, he ended up flaking out on me (thus is the one of the many ups-and-downs of dealings on CL, especially the free section; ever see this hysterical CL post that kinda sums up the free section experience?).

After that fell through, we went back through all the emails and started going through the rest of the people who met the criteria. Still a very long list. But in the midst of that process, we got an email that helped us make the decision. We were contacted by a woman whose organization who was renovating a home to would be used as a halfway house for those recovering from addiction. Even though so many of the people who contacted us may have benefited from our stuff, we knew that we made the right choice by giving it to this group, and we're so happy that we were able to make some people's lives a little more manageable, even if just in this little way. It worked out perfectly. They showed up that Saturday with a truck, a trailer, and tools, and in a little less than three hours, our kitchen was gone!

Maybe now you're thinking, "With all that interest, why didn't you try to get any money out of it?" And the answer was simple: convenience. We wanted it gone, we didn't want to do the work. And as it worked out, we didn't have to rent a dumpster, hire anyone, or take up any more of the time that we had devoted to our kitchen improvements.  And, frankly, there wouldn't have been nearly as much interest if we were selling it, even if it was cheap (not to mention the fact that I did not want to deal with the hassle of negotiating with people and setting up different times to meet everyone to take a look at individual items). And, really, when you start thinking like that, you lose track of the point: we got our kitchen demo done for free! And we lucked out double in this case, because we know the organization who received it is going to make good use of it all, and we feel good about that.

I think the best thing to do when you approach a new project like this is to go with your instincts (in this case, think like a DIYer). Even though our cabinets and appliances were no longer going to serve our purposes, they could certainly serve someone else's. Maybe someone would love to paint your cabinets a pretty new color, or someone else is pining after their first gas stove, or even better, someone would cherish your old dishwasher after doing WAY too much handwashing... hey, like they say: One man's trash... yeah, you know the rest.

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