Getting Started in Architectural Salvage

Getting Started in Architectural Salvage

“They just don’t make things like they used to.” You’ve probably heard that saying get thrown around a lot; you may even have used it a few times yourself and to a certain degree, you’re right. There are a great many things that you can buy today that are beautiful and tough, but they’re missing something. The mass-produced quality of many items tends to suck them dry of personality. There are many homeowners looking to add a sense of identity and history into their houses and a really good way to do it is with architectural salvaging.

What is Architectural Salvage?

Architectural Salvage is ostensibly taking and selling literally every part of an old building that you possibly can. For example, let’s say that there’s an old, abandoned house in St. Louis and everything is being offered up on an estate sale. And by everything, we do mean everything. The furniture, flooring, windows, doors, light fixtures; everything that’s in good enough condition to be sold can and likely will be sold. It’s like an extreme form of liquidating assets, if you will.

That said, because things being sold in this manner likely have some kind of historical value or have been lovingly crafted by hand, they don’t come cheap. Those in the business of architectural salvage can make very good money off such items. Sure – you’re buying secondhand, but even the more degraded items are still high-quality pieces.

Types of Architectural Salvage

There’s a type of salvage where people will find a piece that they simply adore, and leave it as is. At most, all they’re doing is cleaning the dust off, other than that, they’re not making any changes to it, whatsoever. Another kind of salvaging is when you find a piece that you see has some potential and restore it. There are companies that do this, but it comes with pros and cons to the buyers, as they can take the piece without having to do any work on it themselves, but it comes at the cost of having to take the piece remade as how the salvagers decided it should be.

The most well-loved kind of architectural salvaging, however, is historic building salvaging. The St. Louis, example we gave earlier can be considered as this sort of salvaging. You find things you want in an old commercial or residential property and choose what it is you may want.

There are two problems that come with historic building salvaging though, namely that it can be hard to find anything worth the time as many of the buildings are in such poor condition. It can also be hard to catch these sales because a lot of these buildings are protected by their municipalities and as such, aren’t typically open to the public.

Why Is Architectural Salvaging So Lucrative?

Earlier, we said that people will pay big money to have a piece of history in their homes. The idea of continuing the story of an item by adding it to their own history is appealing to plenty of people. Some buyers also wish to escape the uniformity of mass-produced products by having things older, handcrafted fixtures, and doors.

There is another reason to consider though; there are numerous people that live in old, historic houses that already have things like unique trim work and that’s much easier to get via salvaging than it is to custom order. Older houses will have similar styles so using another old house to replace items in theirs makes sense.

If you were considering getting into selling (or buying) architectural salvage but didn’t quite know what the big deal was, we hope we’ve managed to help you out a bit. It can be a superb way to supplement your income and get a hold of some incredible stuff. Have any of you ever bought or sold anything architecturally salvaged? Maybe old doors or windows, or maybe just some old glass doorknobs? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below if you have any. Until we meet again, folks, stay safe, and be careful out there!

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