From the Archives: Help Habitat for Humanity, Minimize Landfill Chow and Ease Your Taxes

[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2018! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at!]

From Jon Anderson: Too many think of December as the month to start counting their Santa haul. How about helping those less fortunate and yourself?  earlier in 2017 I urged you to check out Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore shops.  You can donate to ReStore for the tax write-off and buy from ReStore for bargains to help you make your home more homey. That’s a win-win regardless of your beliefs this time of year.

Sometimes it kills me to watch HGTV.  Eager beaver renovators gleefully rip through their home with sledgehammers ablaze without a thought that some of what they’re splintering could be reused. Sure the cabinets aren’t spankingly trendy and the appliances aren’t stainless, but for someone without, they’re precious.

When I gutted my 1960s home, I called ReStore.  They’re a division of Habitat for Humanity that takes donations of furniture, appliances and construction materials from individuals and businesses and resells them in their stores. Donors get a tax write-off and a lighter conscience.  Someone renovating their house on a shoestring gets some bargains.  Someone else gets housing from Habitat for Humanity.

Plenty of ReStores in the Metroplex

In my case, they sent a truck to pick-up doors and doorframes, cabinets (freestanding and built-in), sinks, countertops and even avocado green appliances. I recall specifically asking about the 40+ year old appliances (who’d want then I thought) and was told sometimes it’s the old stuff that goes quickest. They only take things in working order, they’re not repairmen. So don’t mistake them for your own personal dumpster.

Stainless Steel Bathroom Sconces for $10

And all that stuff you bring in is tax deductible.  For me that meant taking leftover materials to ReStore after the work was done.  They took lighting, sinks, mirrors and other things I didn’t need (Yes, I bought some stuff I didn’t like and couldn’t return.)

All in all, a nice haul and haul-away.  Win-win.

$13 bucks for 9 paint rollers. Can’t beat that!

I also bought some things there to help me renovate.  They often have excess cleaning supplies, paint rollers and the like.  For college kids on a budget, there’s always some furniture around to furnish that first off-campus apartment.

There are often surprises.  Take this $250 Marvel wine fridge that would likely set you back over $1,000 new.  Take the $750 you saved and fill it up with wine knowing you helped someone in need.

Manufacturers also send perfectly good new items to ReStore.  Take this kitchen cabinet.  Since it’s not Skaker white, maybe it’s not as popular today.  For $360, it’s yours along with enough matching cabinets to build a kitchen.

Need counters for the cabinets?  For ~$100 you get decent granite with some having sink holes already cut…and again all matching.  This may have been a display or someone who renovated their kitchen and carefully removed them so they could be reused.

Finally, there’s this shocker.  It’s a 9-foot front door with a beveled glass insert.  New, it would be every bit of $1,000+ but some lucky buyer snapped it up for $250.  With a little elbow grease it’ll be good as new and stained whatever color you’d want.  There was also a set of old, solid wood interior French doors … yours for $150.

Regardless of whether you’re snapping up bargains or donating what you’re ripping out, or both, Habitat for Humanity and ReStore are a worthy cause.  After all, you’re helping others, you’re keeping perfectly good things out of landfills … and you’re helping yourself take a dent out of your taxes (the only kind of tax evasion I support). It may be too late to get any deductions this year, but the taxman will cometh next year too.


Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement.  If you’re interested in hosting a Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email

3 Comment

  • Excellent info! Thanks for sharing.

  • All that Habitat for Humanity does is take the creme from the old houses being demolished and then resells the fixtures at their store. Howard Darby with Dynamite Demolition will hand wreck the entire house and resell all the fixtures and will dismantle the lumber and resell it. Instead of turning the 2X4s into tooth picks, they are resold free of nail. Which sounds like a better feel good option to you?

    • mm

      Clearly you’ve never been in ReStore. They’re hardly the place where derelict, architecturally significant mansions go to die. They resell mostly mainstream construction surplus and donated items. A charity shop for construction and home-related materials. No shade on Dyn-O-Mite Demolition, but they’re a for-profit operation salvaging architectural treasures from homes hitting the wrecker. They’re not selling cases of donated paint rollers to generate money to build homes for needy families. You’re kinda off-base here.