There is a great resource in Long Island City for creative home and apartment improvements, Build It Green NYC. If you’ve got a good eye for creative use of items from the ordinary to the unusual, and a limited budget for your vision, this very rustic store is the place for you.
Even better, this store is Green. Very Green. It is rescue and recycling at it’s finest. The materials and items that are here for purchase have either been recovered before demolition, or donated by companies that for one reason or the other could not use the merchandise. Build It Green! is New York City’s only non-profit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials; it is co-sponsored by Habitat-NYC and the Community Environmental Center (CEC).
So this means a very eclectic mix of items from a brand new sink that was the wrong size, to an old brass light fixture recovered from a building before the wrecking ball hit. The prices are amazing, and the staff is very friendly and helpful.
However, you will have to be visionary, because the display of the merchandise is not. The items are in a dingy warehouse on a one-way street in Long Island City. Simply put, no money is wasted on ambiance in Build It Green, but the upside is you aren’t paying for ambiance, and the prices really reflect this. I spotted a new, white door there for $40 that was going for $150 at home depot. Sometimes they get so much of an item; they give it away for free. They had fluorescent light fixtures a while ago that were free! They had new gallons of paint for $5.
Wear jeans and closed shoes for this adventure. Take measurements with you and bring a tape measure, a pad, and an open mind. Then the adventure begins. This is a big warehouse, which will be undergoing a re-haul by volunteers, this spring, but it is still a warehouse.
Merchandise varies at BIG NYC on every visit you make. If you see it, and you want it, buy it when you find it, since it might not be there next time. They have lots and lots of lumber odds and ends- what looked to me like a lot of molding and wood you would use for trim.
If you are looking for doors, this place is paradise. They had hundreds of doors, all sizes and types, even some over sized. They recently listed a lot of 200 white solid core doors at $26 dollars each- brand new! They often have windows too.
On a recent visit there was a good selection of new cabinets that could provide a bathroom vanity or outfit a small kitchen. Or the ultimate luxury, a very neat storage system for the garage! There were old and new sinks, depending on your interest and the elbow grease you are willing to expend.
Other items to be found at BIG NYC are toilets, light fixtures- and lots of them, spools of wire and cable, paint, flooring and metal studs. If you are handy or creative- or wow, if you are both, you can really come up with some great finds for your home or apartment.
Leave plenty of time to look, think, measure and come up with ways to find unexpected interesting construction items. Check the hours before going since they are not open every day.
BIG has value to all New Yorkers, even those who can’t hold a hammer or use the materials. By recycling these materials, we all benefit. In New York City, construction and demolition waste account for about 60 % of our wastestream. Build It Green works to reduce this waste by providing an opportunity for everyone to reclaim these construction elements that are often as good as new, or at perhaps more interesting as new, and certainly less expensive!
What’s so good about Build It Green?
– Build It Green takes donations of reusable building materials.
– Resells materials to the public at 30-70% off retail value.
– Creates job and volunteer opportunities.
– Conserves natural resources by reducing land filled materials and reusing existing supplies.
Info about Build It Green NYC:
Hours: Wed-Fri 10-6, Sat 10-5
3-17 26th Ave. (at 4th St.), Astoria, Queens 718-777-0132
Link to Directions: