Bargain hunter rebuilds his home using online finds

  • Article by: REBECCA TEAGARDEN , Seattle Times
  • Updated: March 9, 2013 - 7:10 PM

A savvy bargain hunter guts his “ugly” house, then reconstructs it using online finds.

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David Henderson found many of the materials used in the remodel of his family’s home on Craigslist. He and his wife, Karen Anderson, worked on the home together.

Photo: Benjamin Benschneider • Seattle Times/MCT ,

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“We call it Craig’s house, in fact,” said David Henderson, stay-at-home dad, first-time general contractor and, more to the point, ace hunter-gatherer.

That’s Craig as in Craigslist, the classified ad website. And Craig is all over Henderson’s place, from the fir-ply kitchen cabinets to the old-growth, clear-fir ceiling; from the stainless-and-copper bathroom sink to the live-edge madrona bar. There’s also the Wolf kitchen exhaust fan, the fir stairs (once two massive warehouse beams), the cedar bathroom ceiling (from a swimming-pool room) and fir doors (fell off a truck) remade into barn-door sliders.

“There are so many things in this house that have a story,” Henderson said.

“Karen found the house looking online during a typhoon in Vietnam. We had lots of time on our hands,” he said, speaking of his wife and the trip they took with their two 5-year-olds in 2008.

“We lived on the bluff over Shilshole Marina, but the house was old, and we needed more room. But we wanted to find a house that had an equally amazing view. This house had that. But it was just ugly.”

Leaping to the end of his adventure, he added, “Everything from your feet up is new” — 14 months from ripping off the roof and gutting what lay beneath to completion. With as much of it as possible culled from Craigslist.

“The guys would say, ‘Dave, what are we gonna put here?’ And I’d say, ‘I don’t know yet. I haven’t found it.’ ”

Going shopping with Henderson means pulling your chair up to the computer. He figures he spent an hour a day trolling the site’s “materials” department. It was a habit that paid off over and over again.

He found a guy from Snoqualmie Pass, Wash., who built a timber-framed house. “I got a lot of timber from him. We’d meet at the park-and-ride to make the swap.

“Ecco Haus had a Bellevue store, but they closed,” Henderson said. “They had this whole kitchen advertised; the cabinets, the counter. It even came with plans from their kitchen designer.”

And to fit those into the kitchen? “I downloaded CAD [computer-assisted design] programs and used those during the two-week trial period.”

The main floor holds the living spaces. The family opened the downstairs with a wide set of steps to a family room and kids art/play room. The powder room there: a cool stainless sink with a copper exterior; $300, Craigslist.

Henderson nods toward the ceiling: 10,000 linear feet of old-growth Douglas fir with hardly a knot. A major Craigs­list score. The untouched, 55-year-old lumber was discovered in a lumber company warehouse. “I was the first guy down there,” Henderson said. “They had 11 people coming to see it after me. We really didn’t have plans for the ceiling. It was just going to be white.”

Henderson’s Craigslist adventure worked both ways. “I sold a lot of the stuff on Craigslist, even the old insulation. By the end it was amazing how much leftover stuff we sold.”

What bargains he couldn’t get on Craigslist he found elsewhere. The dishwashers (Asko) and refrigerator (Amana) are from the Albert Lee seconds sale. The Kenmore induction cooktop and oven are Sears clearance.

The backsplash tiles in the kitchen, by the way, are from an actual tile store.

“Karen said to me, ‘You can’t spend your whole life getting everything for less.’ ”

But he can try.

  • related content

  • from left: David Henderson found many of his remodeling materials on Craigslist. 1. One-inch tongue-and-groove old-growth vertical-grain fir for trim around doors and windows. 2. Fir doors that fell off a truck were refashioned into barn-door sliders. 3. The stairs are fir from warehouse beams. 4. The kitchen cabinets and counter came from an Ecco Haus listing on Craigslist; the dining-table slab is from Tree Cycle (on Craigslist), which had cedar slabs from a tree that was tearing up the sidewalk.

  • The kitchen cabinets and counter came from an Ecco Haus listing on Craigslist. The dining-table slab is from Tree Cycle (on Craigslist), which had deodar cedar slabs from a tree in Laurelhurst, Wash., that was tearing up the sidewalk.

  • The stairs to the family room are fir from beams in a warehouse. Two beams were enough for 14 steps and runners, 3 inches thick. The doors on the left close off the kids’ play room. They’re fir doors that fell off a truck and were refashioned into barn-door sliders.

  • On David Henderson’s Seattle home, the rafters in the old house are exterior studs now; the sliding doors are Sierra Pacific. The family has the big view they so desired.

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