New and Better:
Utilizing the RE Store for Residential Remodeling Contracting

Something that has bothered me for many years is the infrequency with which local contractors utilize the RE Store to create win-win arrangements for their remodeling clients. Hopefully what follows can inspire and promote this incredible local resource, and illustrate some of the various strategies to bring the RE Store in as a helpful partner for contractors and clients.

Recently, at the annual Rocking the RE Store silent auction, I offered a $200 gift certificate for my services to the highest bidder, with the proceeds to benefit the Restore. The couple that won the bidding used the certificate to get an initial price reduction off of a multi-faceted remodel for an older home they had recently purchased in Bellingham’s Lettered Streets neighborhood.

They presented to me a project with a variety of options. Floors needed to be refinished, windows cabinets and doors replaced, a porch floor needed to be rebuilt, framing needed to be changed – the list went on. It was a multi-faceted list, and certainly not all of the items would make the inevitable budget cutting process. How should the project be approached? What factors could help determine the cost effectiveness of various elements under consideration?

I wrote a comprehensive proposal that broke out all the costs involved for each item on the list. Included was the cost of removing, hauling away, and disposing of an entire set of perfectly good, but medium quality, kitchen cabinets and half a dozen newer, but not stylistically correct, interior doors. In the contract I inserted a clause allowing for a further $300 price reduction if the RE Store choose to remove these materials. The RE Store sent a field crew leader to the house to preview the materials, and agreed to do the work. The work proceeded quickly and efficiently, and did not cost any money. Within four hours the entire set of cabinets and all the doors were gone – I had done no physical work and had expended little organizational time. The rooms were left clean and neat, the plumbing items to remain and be reinstalled left neatly collected together.

For making this “donation” of materials to a registered non-profit the owners were given two options – receive a tax-deductible receipt, or a trade credit at the store. They elected the trade credit, worth $183. Additionally, the RE Store had available salvaged tongue and groove flooring of the just the type and age to help patch damaged areas of the house’s floors. There was even enough to do the whole front porch floor. The porch floor had been initially eliminated from the project because of cost – new fir flooring is extremely expensive. But the RE Store material was about half the price of new. And with a further $183 price reduction it was a steal.

Another benefit was to the environment. I always insert a statement in my contract that enumerates any old growth materials to be used in the project, and recommends alternatives. The biggest old growth item in this project was the porch floor. But now all that material could be had without cutting any new trees. Additionally, the elimination of the porch from the project had reduced my potential for earnings and profit. Reintroducing this item back into the project at a reduced cost gave that earning potential back to me, at a savings to the clients.

A final tally of benefits from this participation with the Restore:

The RE Store gets:

  • A $200 donation
  • A half day of work for it’s non-profit employees
  • Over $1,250 worth of highly attractive sales items for the showroom
  • An additional sale of about $750 of flooring

The client gets:

  • A price reduction of $200 on the project
  • Another price reduction of $300 on the project
  • A tax-deductible receipt from the RE Store for their $200 bid donation
  • A savings of about $1000 on a purchase of flooring over new prices
  • An additional credit of $183 on the flooring purchase

I receive:

  • A job that keeps me busy and employed for over two months
  • A satisfied client who could provide good references for future work
  • A portion of the work done without hardly any effort by me, at no cost
  • A portion of the project eliminated by the budget reintroduced to the project

The earth receives:

  • The continued existence of one huge old growth Douglas Fir tree.