Thursday, November 20, 2008

Should you use salvage or vintage fixtures? Things to consider…

If you talk to most die-hard preservationists, they will tell you the best way to go (and more often than not, the only way to go) is to use true vintage fixtures you find as scrap or salvage. Vintage fixtures, such as lighting, faucets, knobs and handles, toilets, sinks, tubs, etc. can be found in garage sales, salvage yards, classifieds, or even on ebay.

However, before you embark on your renovation project, make sure it is worth what you may end up having to pay for it altogether to have it installed. Although these vintage fixtures are often cheaper than their brand-new counterparts, you may end up paying way more for missing parts that are no longer readily available or need to be special-ordered, or paying more for a trickier installation.

Some tips to help you determine whether it’s worth it:

1. Inspect the items (if possible) to make sure it has all the parts you need to make it work. If there are missing parts, try to see if you can find them at your hardware store and what their costs are, before you commit to it.
2. Take a step further and make sure they will work for modern code requirements. If not, assess what it will cost to get them up to code.
3. Determine “spot-fixing” costs for chips, nicks, scratches, or re-polishing. For example, you may be scoring with a dirt-cheap solid cast-iron claw foot tub, but with all the porcelain chips in it, it may cost way more to get it re-glazed than if you were to buy a brand-new cast iron claw foot tub.
4. If you are using a contractor, make sure he sees the items (or at least the specs) and confirms that he is able to install them for you and if there are additional installation costs. You do not want to assume all fixtures are made equal – and this helps alleviate any obstacles (and unexpected costs) when it comes time to install.

In the end, as long as you LOVE IT and were prepared to pay way more than you anticipated, using salvage or vintage fixtures will be worth it in the long run.

To see samples of Good Home Construction's previous and current projects, click HERE.

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