How To Find Salvaged or Reclaimed Materials By Setting Up A PSO

Last updated on February 13th, 2020 at 02:33 pm

You might be wondering WHAT THE HECK IS A PSO? It stands for Pure Salvage Outpost, a place that collects and stores salvaged or reclaimed material to help others build on their own land. A PSO can be a formal business or an informal “drop off” area on private property where materials can be left for others to use. If you’re in the market for reclaimed materials for your build, this post will guide you on how to find salvaged or reclaimed materials by setting up a POS.

The Value of Reclaimed and Salvaged Materials

There are a growing number of people who want to get away from over-sized houses and the overwhelming mortgages that go with them. Oftentimes the dream of owning a small, simple house includes building it one’s self as economically as possible. Reclaimed and salvaged material can play a huge part in such a goal.

Saving Money

The determined do-it-yourself builder can easily save thousands of dollars using reclaimed and salvaged building materials that sell for a fraction of the cost of new. And though they may be a bit harder to find, there are plenty of free-for-the-taking deals available, especially if you’re willing to provide the labor for removal and relocation of the materials.

Photo Credit: Roma Frank

Standing Strong

But there’s more value to reclaimed materials than just the immediate direct-cost savings over new materials. Those savings occur over the long-term because, simply put, vintage building materials tend to be of superior quality. In earlier times when there were few shortcuts to the intense labor of building a home, those homes were build to last using materials that still remain strong today.

Preserving Health

In modern manufacturing, unfortunately, the “bottom line” often matters more than either durability or toxicity. The extensive use of synthetic and chemically-treated materials in the construction of our modern homes can literally make us sick. Although you will want to be wary of lead in some vintage materials and items, salvaged materials do minimize the off-gassing concern that plagues so many homes built with all-new products.

Lasting Charm

Building with salvaged and reclaimed materials creates unique, one-of-a-kind results that mass-produced materials simply can’t match. There’s no denying the special charm that comes from the use of vintage windows, antique doorknobs, reclaimed hardwood floors, and the like. Houses built from materials “with a history” possess a character all their own that modern construction simply can’t recreate.

Finding Reclaimed Materials

Reclaimed materials can be found all across the United States. These are the building materials that have been used and abused and yet have stood the test of time.

Photo Credit: Tiny Texas Houses

The farmer down the road may have a dilapidated barn he’d like to remove that’s full of chemical-free hardwood perfect for flooring or siding. An old schoolhouse might provide sturdy antique windows. An unused factory might be a great source for gorgeous old bricks.

I have personally seen many abandoned old houses on tobacco farms that provided a treasure trove of old wood, ornate doors, vintage light fixtures, and even big old cast iron sinks.

You never know what might be lurking inside an overgrown old building no one even notices anymore. It could be worth your while to track down the property owner and inquire.

Resale Sources For Reusable Building Materials

Sometimes a convenient place to start the search for reusable building materials is a local Habitat for Humanity or area thrift stores. Keep in mind what you find may be usable but not necessarily vintage. Still, they can be a great resource for affordable building materials, and usually any purchases made support a charitable cause. So it’s not all bad.

Many areas also retail outlets specializing in salvaged building materials. These stores are great fun to find and explore. But I’ve yet to find such an outlet that didn’t give me sticker shock. If you have a big budget for your build, then salvage stores can save you a lot of time in finding unique materials. They will rarely save you money, however.

How To Find Salvaged or Reclaimed Materials By Setting Up A PSO

Before you drop your money at a resale store or expensive salvage retailer, do some research. Is there a PSO to be found within reasonable distance of your build? If not, it could be very worth the effort to set up your own.

Ideally a Pure Salvage Outpost occupies a physically space and works best with some type of shelter to protect the materials. An old barn, outbuilding, or even a lean-to could work.

Don’t let lack of shelter be too big a hindrance, though. Even an open area of land can work as a PSO.

But what if there’s absolutely no space available to set up a physical outpost? Then think outside the box and create a virtual one! Through social media and meet-up sites, you can set up boards to let each other know what materials are needed and what’s available for giving away or swapping. A virtual PSO may take a bit more time to set up and get rolling, but it can be every bit as effective for finding salvaged and reclaimed materials for your build.

Making a PSO Work

Whether physical or virtual, Pure Salvage Outlets are all about connecting and networking. So reach out to friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. And ask them to reach out to people they know on your behalf.As the old saying goes, the wider you cast your net, the greater variety of fish you’ll catch! You never know who might have a horde of salvaged or reclaimed materials sitting around they’d love to be rid of.

Once you’ve connected with like-minded salvage-seekers, you can work together finding and sharing sources for reclaimed materials and vintage fixtures. You can buy, sell, barter, and trade within your group. And you can pool your resources to obtain materials from distant or more-costly sources than might be feasible on your own.

A Successful Pure Salvage Outpost

The goal of a PSO is to create a way for individuals with materials they no longer need or want to pass them along to others who do need and want them. A successful PSO keeps usable building materials out of landfills, keeps construction costs in check, and can even create new friendships in the process.

If you have some available space on your homestead property, you might want to consider setting up a PSO to benefit your area. If you don’t have the land but do have the interest, establishing a virtual PSO can be a great way to go.

A little PSO give and take can mean big benefits for you, your community, and the environment, too. Happy Salvaging!

Special Note: I have used photos submitted to my Facebook group Shed to House Conversions: A to Z in this post and have noted photo credit for each of these images.

14 thoughts on “How To Find Salvaged or Reclaimed Materials By Setting Up A PSO”

  1. I love this. I am a big fan of recycling and reusing materials. The local thrift store is such a good thing. I visit my ones frequently as you can find perfectly good items for less than a third of the price. The price difference for metal roofs is just incredible in your article. Great post that actually shows that you can create something, without paying top dollar and still getting perfectly good material. 

    • Thank you for the comment, Alexandra. We have indeed found that our local metal shops can be a little pricey. That’s when we decided to visit an area Amish or Mennonite Community that will sell many things to you for a fraction of the price. I am glad you enjoyed the article.  Thanks again!

  2. This is awesome! I love building planters, tables, shelves with old pallets. You can honestly find them behind a lot of commercial buildings. Often times, they are happy to give a few away, as long as they do not need them anymore. Reclaimed materials make it more fun to build anything, it’s a great way to re-purpose items that otherwise might have been thrown out and that is a waste.

    • Thanks for the comment, Amber…Im glad you liked the content. Using reclaimed materials is a great way to re-purpose into something you will enjoy. I like pallet uses also but they sure can be a problem to take apart. 🙂  Thanks again for the comment.

  3. This is a great idea that I have seen elsewhere as well. Using reclaimed materials seems like it’s not only cost-effective, but responsible as well. My wife and I love the idea and think it also gives such a charming look to whatever is built with it. We especially love wood floors that use reclaimed wood from barns or old houses. The wide planks are just gorgeous!

    Do you find at all now that using reclaimed materials is popular and  “in” that the prices have gone up as well?

    • Hi Steve,

      Yes, reclaimed items are still popular with many people that i am finding through my website and social media presence.  In one area we are finding people, like my wife and I, who are taking storage sheds and converting them for living. Many of those same people use reclaimed materials to finish them and have turned out really nice. Its also a great conversation piece.  I do think alot of people are now finding that they can sell their reclaimed materials which, of course, increases price, as well as those reclaimed Salvage stores. There are still a ton of reclaimed materials out there that folks are itching to either throw away or give away.   Thanks very much for your comments. 

  4. Hi Watt,

    Great idea, it’s a bit too late for me to start a PSO but maybe my son will be interested. He is living at home with my wife and I and his small family. House prices have become totally out of control where we live and they just can’t afford to buy one for themselves. A lot of his friends are in the same situation.

    My son is a plumber, I was an electrician, and one of my son’s in-laws is a carpenter/cement mason. Between us we have the skills to build a house. In my younger days I renovated several houses from the ground up myself so know what is required to build from scratch. And by using salvaged and reclaimed materials the cost can be brought way down not to mention the benefit to the environment.

    The thing I like about starting a PSO is being able to help not only my son but others that are in the same situation. With a community effort there are lots of folks out there that would pitch in to help each other.

    Thanks for the great idea.


    • Hi Ed,

      Thanks for the positive comments. I agree its a good way to build from scratch and start a small business. Many people take things to the landfills every day to throw away. That’s a great way to get things for free that may still be in working or usable condition, and make some money to boot..I hope its something your son can work with. 

  5. I actually love a small house not so big which can contain my family.

    A big house could be stressful from my own point of view for example when tidying and paying electric bills etc.

    And PSO looks amazing and this would help those with not so much funds to build their houses to the best way they want it.

    Would recommend this to my friends.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read it and your comment. PSO’s are also a great way to make some extra income.  Feel free to visit my site again…

  6. Good Day, Matt.

    Having spent most of my working life in the construction industry, I can easily understand where you come from. 

    When I think back to all the construction materials I have seen being sent to “waste transfer stations” it could make me cry. I’m not sure if there are many medium to large, construction sites in your area, but it would be well worth travelling to the big city in search of these. 

    They fill up large 40 cubic yard bins on a weekly basis. While some of the material is treated, a lot of it is not. Just the fire-wood alone would be worth the trip. 

    Always lots of good, often perfect quality, untreated 2×4, etc… In my opinion, you would just need to ask the site superintendent, and Bob’s your uncle. 

    I love your concept and I agree with your philosophy in large part. 

    I want to thank you as well for today’s new word, PSO. It has so many possibilities. 

    Live long and prosper. 


    • Good Day to you Paul,

      Thanks for the positive comments and I couldn’t agree with you more. Its all their for the asking in my opinion. ‘Im glad you liked the article.  

  7. What an innovative piece. Its good to see people with great ideas on how we can build a house with reclaim materials. This will give opportunity to a low budget person to at least build a small apart. I believe this is a great idea that will still be embraced by the populace. Its also very good that one can also be a drop off site for those who are throwing things away instead of taking it to the landfill.Have learned new stuff here. This approach is not yet popular in Africa but we shall get there someday. Personally, I would like to see

    • Thank you Tsquare for the positive comment. Its always good to see people get some ideas from this post. Perhaps you should be the Innovator and begin something like this in Africa. 🙂 

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