For starters, my own boss calls my husband "Craig" as a joke because he is well-known for being a Craigslist junkie. Before we started our house project, we were already fairly heavy CL users, having bought and sold numerous cars, furniture, tools, building materials, sports equipment, a boat and my favorite - firewood from the Free section for our wood-burning fireplace in our last house in Seattle. But Curt's time on the site, or more often the free iPhone app, went up considerably when we really got started working in Breck. Many an evening, Curt would arrive at home with some weird purchase he picked up from CL that I did not like, understand or see a need for. Most of the time, I would eventually realize why he bought what he did and how it would help us. Certainly not ALL the time though, since plenty of our CL buys have been duds - both services and materials.
While we have lucked out with many great short- and long-term workers/contractors using the Gigs section, we've also had no-shows and less than desirable folks give us bids we didn't like or start work that we didn't want them to finish. We have had great success buying and selling appliances over the years, though we recently bought a dishwasher that didn't clean our dishes. It happens. We took it out and bought a new one from a real store, not wanting to press our luck. I still have no complaints about how the law of averages has favored us over time. My two favorite things in our house - the bowling lane countertop from Celebrity Lanes in Denver and the bright green tile in our powder room - both came from CL and were steals.
|Countertop and tile from CL, lights and towel ring from Amazon, sink and faucet from eBay, mirror from IKEA|
|Cabinets, shelf, oven and lamp from IKEA. Fridge, bowling lane countertop, microwave and range hood from CL. Tile from Floor & Decor Outlet. Quite a few thrift, Ross and TJ Maxx finds in this photo too!|
As the home builder in the article noted, selling materials and tools no longer needed was also a huge bonus to us. Curt has many times bought a specific tool he needed for a very specific use, and then sold it soon after. He bought things on eBay like our PEX spooler and plumbing, and then sold the little bits and pieces and extras we didn't use. We've sold scraps of tile, and bought tiny lots of scraps of others' tile from projects already completed. He bought portable heaters for when we slept in our house last winter in well-below-freezing temps, and then sold them to others who were embarking on a similar difficult winter project. He sold the concrete forms and floor joists that were leftover in our house before we even starting working on it ourselves. He bought a wood chipper to clean up our yard and we're about to resell that. He bought a pedestal sink for a bathroom, put it in and we decided we didn't like it, so we just bought a different sink and will resell the pedestal.
And I'll be honest, he often makes a profit or at least breaks even. Hey! Buyer beware. It pays to do your research before buying or selling anything in a marketplace like CL. He has also given plenty of things away for free or loaned them to people. Karma works both ways. The point of using CL is not just to be cheap. Like Freecycle, it is more about taking, using and giving things back to someone who needs them, when they need them, at prices that are mutually agreed upon, negotiated and mutually beneficial.
We have friends who make fun of Curt, who is always recommending that people check CL for almost any question or advice they ask of him. However, we also have plenty of friends that use CL like we do, and have found labor, tools, materials, appliances and more while they plow through their own house projects. We have built a unique house and spent probably a third of what our neighbor spent building his just down the street (he's still not finished!). We have eBay, CL, IKEA (mostly the discounted As Is section), Floor & Decor tile outlet, Habitat for Humanity Restore, The Lumber Guy, Appliance Factory Warehouse, a few pawn shops and dozens of thrift store visits to thank. You probably wouldn't know it by walking through the house, but even if you did, I wouldn't mind. I'm not embarrassed. Not everything on CL is even used. Not everything is junk. Not all the people looking for work are meth heads (though some will be!). Not everyone is trying to rip someone else off. By using so many used and recycled and affordable materials, and putting back into the marketplace the things we no longer need, while taking advantage of the local labor resources, I hope we have made as positive an impact on the environment and the community as our bank accounts.