Donating unused construction materials can be both financially and personally rewarding. Unfortunately many home owners and contractors are at a loss of how to go about doing it. Sure we all know of tons of charities and organizations that are in constant need of donated items. Selecting the right materials for the right organization can be a bit confusing. The time and effort it may take to track down which which organizations can use which items, figuring out which items can be donated and where to take them to can seem not worth the effort. This causes a lot of unused, valuable construction materials to end up in the local landfill. Here are a few ideas on how to eliminate some of the confusion and leg work involved in finding a way to donate unused construction materials to a worthy cause.
First, match the types of materials to the proper organization. Unused lumber can be used by just about any club, charity or community organization that helps with repairing housing for low income families and elderly individuals. Lumber can also be a good donation for any group that builds community buildings or works on community projects like senior and youth activity centers and public club meeting buildings or even churches.
Groups like Habitat for Humanity, the Department of Housing and Urban development, the local chapters of the Kiwanis club, the Free Masons, the Knights of Columbus, The Boys and Girls Club and Boy Scout and Girl Scout organizations are good places to start. This goes for any major donation materials such as siding, plywood, roofing shingles, doors and windows, bags of concrete or even partial gallons of paint. Contacting any main office of these agencies should point you in the right direction if not give you the information you need right away.
Smaller pieces of scrap wood that are not large enough to build with can be donated to a local school wood working class. Teachers always appreciate donated materials as it helps them use their budget for other things and the local school board should be able to get you a receipt for them. The Salvation Army has career training centers that can use small pieces of wood for practice also. Any youth or senior activity center that has programs for making wood crafts would appreciate the donation. Contact your local area group activity coordinator to donate at these places.
Left over unused electrical wiring, outlets, switches and covers are also good things to donate to home repair charities. Any state agency that participates in the LIHEAP weatherization program should have a coordinator to contact regarding donations that can be used to help the program stretch their funds for weatherization of older homes for low income and elderly or disabled participants. These programs are usually found at state agencies where people go for help with paying utility bills. Other things that programs of these type appreciate as donations include unused insulation, extra weather stripping, air conditioning parts or duct work and ceiling fans that may have been stripped from a home installing a central heating and air unit.
Extra pieces of chain link fencing, fence poles, caps and other fencing hardware are welcome donations at just about any animal shelter. Community gardens also need donations of fencing materials. Other unused construction materials that can assist community or public held gardens are items like usable pieces of lattice, small amounts of brick or mortar, left over over landscaping materials, paving stones, step stones, gravel, pieces of picket fencing, pieces of gutter works, chicken wire, small amounts of piping for irrigation projects, extra sodding, and bags of mulch.
Interior items such as unused wall paper and border, extra sheets of paneling, lighting fixtures and ceramic tiles or large pieces of carpet and vinyl flooring can be dropped off at any Salvation Army, Goodwill or other charity thrift store donation site.
Emergency Relief agencies such as the Red Cross, Unicef and local volunteer fire departments often coordinate efforts in helping victims of natural disasters or fires by providing materials to rebuild and repair homes and businesses. Many churches accept donations of unused or reusable construction materials not only for use in their own buildings, but also to help parishioners or needy members of the community with needed home repairs.
Any of the above mentioned agencies as well as any registered non profit organization can give a receipt for tax purposes. This is quite helpful for homeowners and business owners looking to offset tax payment at the end of the year. Always call the agency first to make sure they can use the items and that they are tax deductible before you drop them off. Many times organizations will pick the items up and if they can not use an item, they will most likely be able to tell you which organizations can.
If you don't want to fool with the hassle of finding an organization to donate to, there are many other ways to donate your unused construction materials, although they may not always result in receiving a receipt for them. Anyone with internet access can browse through charity websites and send an inquiry to the agency as to if they can use the item and how to get it to them. If that doesn't suit your time limits, there are hundreds of free posting internet sites to post the items on. You and the person or organization who wants it work out how it gets to them. Sites like Craigslist.com and Freecycle.org have data bases of wants and needs for local charities and organizations as well as local forums where you can simply list the item as free to whoever wants it and get it out of your way. These sites are also great places to list items that have come out of a remodeled or rehabilitated home or building that are still usable. Many people would be surprised at the demand for a single sheet of drywall or an old vanity cabinet, but people do need these items and will come get them.
Here is a small list of suggestions for donation items.
- Electrical wiring, caps, panels, breakers, outlets, light fixtures, switches and covers
- Plumbing pieces of pvc and cpvc pipes, hoses for appliances, shower head assemblies, tub and sink faucets assemblies, safety bars, old tub and shower units or surround pieces, safety bars, pvc extension pieces such as T's and J's, sink traps, old hot water heaters, pressure control devices and basin sinks
- Heating and cooling ventilation duct work longer than 4 feet, air vent covers, air conditioning window units (even if they don't work someone can fix them), ceiling fans, bathroom and stove exhaust fans, dryer vents hoses that aren't badly damaged
- Hardware, just about anything usable including, screws, nails, door latches, door and cabinet hinges and cabinet handles
- Drywall no smaller than 16 inches by 48 inches. This is because 16 inches is the standard distance between wall studs in building. Anything smaller is unusable unless it is being used for a patch work.
- Left over rolls of shingles, make sure they are not bent or rolled up because this makes it nearly impossible to use for new roofing.
- Bags or partial bags of quick dry concrete and mortar, left over over drywall mud powder, tubes or partial tubes of caulking, silicone or plumbing and wood putty as long as they are not dried out
- Any type of fencing or fencing pieces that don't have large holes in them
- Concrete blocks, brick o blocks and bricks that do not have large cracks or chips off of them
- Windows, doors, cabinets, cabinet doors, counter tops, vanities and shelving that has been removed from a home but is still reusable.
What not to donate
- Anything that has had mold or fungus growing on it. These are health hazards and difficult to make sure they are removed as they can grow back from areas that they are not visible in after cleaning.
- Anything that has been severely damaged by smoke, water or aging.
- Warped, water damaged split or cracked lumber. This type of damage makes wood unsuitable for building with.
- Uninsulated electrical wiring, unless someone has a specific request for this such as an electronics hobbyist. Knowledgeable builders will not use it and anyone who is inexperienced in electrical work could cause a fire hazard.
- Pieces of carpet or carpet padding that has been damaged by animal urine or similar damage. Remember, if you can't get the smell out its likely no one else can either.
- Cracked pieces of glass because once it cracks it begins to split. Windows with frames that have broken panes are probably ok as the pane can be replaced
- Old insulation that is worn thin or has been wet.
- Pieces of vinyl flooring smaller than 4 foot by 4 foot, since rarely anyone has a room built smaller than this. Unless there is a specific request for something smaller such as for a patch job, anything smaller is not really useful.
There are many ways to donate unused construction materials without having to make a tremendous effort to do so. Some of the organizations that accept donations of this type are listed below. As always, don't forget to check with your local area groups to see if they can use the item, no matter how small it might seem.
H.U.D. repairs programs
LIHEAP weatherization programs
Yahooo.com>groups> keywords> recycle, your location
Salvation Army and Salvation Industries
Good Will and Good Will Industries
Habitat for Humanity
Boys and Girls Club
Big brothers and Big Sisters
The Lions Club
The Free Masons lodge
Boy scouts and Girl scouts of America
Red Cross disaster relief coordination program