see all cities »


Free finds on Used: the Victoria woman who is renovating her home FOR FREE!

Karen Bragg is renovating her home and how is she doing it? With free finds from her local site. Believe me when I say this is amazing!

So Karen, let me get this straight, you renovated your house using materials you found on for free?

We have renovated about half of our house using free materials obtained on We are also saving up materials for an addition to the house that we hope to begin in the spring. And it was not just building materials, but things we could use for the house too. It started out as a sort-of sociological experiment on my part to see what I could do with things I could obtain for free. I like to think it was, and is, a successful experiment!

And was it just the site or did you venture out of the city and pick up stuff from other Used sites on the island and further afield?

We have never used another site besides  There didn’t seem to be a need.

How long were you renovating your house? Did it take longer than anticipated because you were waiting to find the right freebies?

The renovations on the house have been happening over two years, but we started saving materials a year before that.  I had some renos in mind (such as the deck extension and the sliding glass door in the master bedroom to access it) and there were a few that came about because of the materials we came across.

What do you think your best find was? Was there anything you were really surprised to find?

As for what the best free find was, that is hard to say. We got 12 trusses, perfect for our addition; about 30 sheets of 3/4″plywood that will be used for the addition; approx. 2,500 ft of solid oak trim pulled out of a heritage house; approximately 2,500 ft of maple hardwood flooring pulled from a 100 yr old school gymnasium; a wonderful nearly-new airtight wood-stove insert; a brand new soaker tub that the owner intended for his own renovation but never used (he showed us the receipt for over $500); approx 15-20ft long 2″x12″s. It’s hard to choose!

What would you say the easiest materials to find were?

We were lucky enough to come across a LOT of tile, as well as over 2,000 sq ft of nearly new carpeting from an office that had been newly renovated but the new owners wanted a different color carpet! Both tile and carpet are very easy to find. But I think one of the easiest things to find is cabinets of any sort: kitchen, bathroom, shed, armoires, etc.

Did you model your house around what you were finding or search for certain items you wanted to work with?

This is an interesting question. The fact is that I would ask my boyfriend (a carpenter who adores me) what we would need to do a certain project, and I would look for those items. If I saw anything that I suspected might be useful for some other purpose, I would ask him if it would be useful.

Where did all this great stuff come from? Was it from other homeowners?

Most of the materials came from other homeowners who were renovating or who had planned to renovate but changed their minds and couldn’t sell the materials, so they just wanted the stuff gone. Their wish was my command!

So, explain to me exactly what renovations you were able to complete on your home using free finds from the sites.

OK, list of renos and improvements with materials from

  • New furniture (not a reno, but made the living room look better!)
  • Bigscreen tvs
  • Mattresses & beds
  • Cool lamps!
  • 2 slightly used refrigerators
  • All 3 fish tanks w/all accessories plus most of the fish (2-50 gal tanks and 1-130 gal tank, we just paid for delivery of the big one)
  • Almost all the flowers and plants in the yard
  • All the vertical blinds in the house
  • 3 nearly new toilets
  • 2000 sq ft of nearly new carpets
  • 160 sq ft hardwood flooring for master bedroom (paid a few dollars for it, but nearly nothing)
  • 1,000 sq ft hardwood flooring for downstairs living room, dining room and hallway.
  • Tiling for upstairs largest bathroom floor and bathtub surround
  • Tiling for master bedroom ensuite floor
  • Tiling for downstairs bathroom
  • Tiling for downstairs kitchen
  • Extended deck in back yard
  • Sliding glass door in master bedroom to access deck
  • Replacement thermal window for downstairs
  • Materials we used to make a gorgeous greenhouse (wood, glass, doors, windows, paint, etc)
  • Materials we used to make a large shed (wood, small wood-stove, cabinets, etc)

We also replaced our dishwasher, washer & dryer, and the double sinks with vanity in the largest bathroom

Anything you still need to find?

Oh, yes, we will still need a lot in order to complete the addition this spring; windows, doors, plumbing, etc. Not everything will be free, but Victoria is a generous place that prefers not to send its used materials to the dump, so I expect that we will find much of what we need!

What’s your number one tip for using used?

My #1 best tip is this: think ahead of time about the things that you would like to find, and just keep looking with those things in mind. It might take a few weeks or even a month of looking, but it will usually show up.

Marketing Manager at Lover of yoga, bees, red wine, rock n roll music, good books and mountain views.

2 Responses to “Free finds on Used: the Victoria woman who is renovating her home FOR FREE!”

S MacIver

Hi from Wpg. I have seen a few toilets and the odd cupboard here but no such treasure trove as in Victoria. I think what you have done and are doing is great! Hope to see a blog maybe with lots of pictures when you are done. Take care, Shirley



Wow! Seeing all the free stuff summed up is quite impressive. I have seen the renos as they have taken place bit by bit, but never considered the sum total until reading this article.
Seeing the end result, I would like to add that they really made the free stuff shine. When it arrives it just looks like a heap of used wood or windows or tile etc. but once it is put into its new setting it looks like new, and the stuff is often top grade material. They don’t have just ordinary everyday floor coverings; they have REAL hardwood floors (as opposed to laminate) and the tile is of high quality also. Those who gave their supplies away would be proud of the new home that their materials have been placed in.


Leave a Reply