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Want to avoid pay big-box store prices while improving your habitat? Here's how.

A few years after I bought my house, I called a plumbing company to fix my bathroom sink faucet.

“You’ll need one of our specialists to come out,” the technician told me. “He’ll need to tear into that bedroom wall to get to those pipes. But then he’ll build a nice wood cover to install over the hole.”

A few weeks later, the company sent a new technician who knocked out a 16-inch by  26-inch jagged hole in my bedroom wall, fixed the pipe problem, dusted off the floor, and packed his tools to leave.

“The other guy told me you’d install a cabinet to cover the hole,” I told him. He just looked at me like I was crazy.

“Well, he was wrong,” the technician grumbled and handed me a bill for $300. My calls to complain to the plumbing company were futile. I was stuck with a massive hole in my wall.

I rearranged my bedroom, moving my dresser to cover the hole, and started shopping online for a plumbing  access cover. I could buy an access door at any hardware or home store, but because the plumber sawed and hammered through my wall with no regard for the size of his handiwork, the cost of the door I needed ranged from $60 to even hundreds of dollars.

I decided to shop further, hoping to find a cover at the Habitat for Humanity Restore down the street. Habitat for Humanity Restores, located nationwide, are nonprofit stores and donation centers that carry used appliances, home accessories, building materials, and lots more for super-cheap prices.

I wasn’t about to pay for some overpriced access door when Restore had dozens of white kitchen cabinet doors of all sizes for $1 each. With tape measure in hand, I bought a hinged, white cabinet cover in perfect condition, four screws, and headed home. I had the perfect plumbing access cover for my wall. Total cost: $1.75.

After that, I became a regular Restore shopper. Here are a few things I’ve saved money on in addition to my repurposed kitchen cabinet door…

  • Desk. I found a sleek and contemporary white table with black trim, perfect for my needs for $15.
  • Lamp globe. I needed a new globe for my floor lamp after the other one broke, toppled during a dog-versus-mailman alert. My local Restore has several shelves of lamp globes for $1 apiece. The globe I bought looks custom made for my lamp.
  • Paint. I painted my small bathroom using an unopened gallon of Benjamin Moore paint I bought for $9. I would have paid around $60 to $70 per gallon if I’d ordered it at a Benjamin Moore store.
  • Tile:  I found new 12″ x 12″ ceramic floor tiles for $1 apiece. New premium 12″ x 12″ tiles at my local Restore run $2 each.

Here are several items you can usually find in stock at Restore at a fraction of the typical cost…

  • Doors ranging in price from $10 to hundreds of dollars
  • Lumber
  • Bags of cement and grout
  • Bricks and pavers
  • Plumbing fixtures and pipes
  • Ceiling fans and lights
  • Window blinds

So, next time you get nervous about how much you’ll spend on a renovation or repair project, take a stroll through the Restore aisles before hitting the big stores. Restore proceeds go toward building shelter for families, and you’re repurposing items otherwise headed for a landfill.

That’s a lot better than going on a spending spree at your nearest home improvement store.

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Meet the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp


Hipp is a freelance writer based out of Missouri.


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