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Be Green

Eco Reno

While brainstorming for ideas and crafting the intro for this piece, our show writer Maurice Bigio made a telling comment: We do reno in order to add value to our homes.

When you start thinking of home improvements as adding value, the whole idea of adding character and eco-friendliness to your work begins to make a lot of sense.
So for those of us who favour "character" over "catalogue" as a look for our digs, welcome to Eco Reno It's a shop run by a non-profit organization that aims to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.
The benefit to everyday Montrealers like you and me is that we now have a place to go to get great quality woodwork, cabinetry, doors, windows, tubs, taps and more.
The best part is that even as you augment the value of your home, your reno stays under budget.

Here's what you need to know about Eco Reno:
1. They save, you save:
Every year since 2003, Eco Reno has saved 100 tonnes of perfectly reusable material from ending up in the landfill.
So this year, the total has climbed to 500 tonnes of waste diversion.
The good news for YOU is that all this stuff will cost you LESS than it would brand new. How much less? Well, that bring us to...
2. Pricing: Everything from solid wood doors to claw foot baths are priced at 40% off their equivalent brand new counterparts So prices will look something like this:
* Solid wood door: $65
* Claw foot tub: $300
* Wood work: $2 a foot
Waitaminit, that seems a little steep, you say. The operative word here is EQUIVALENT. Sure you can get a brand new wood chip door for less. But if you were to look for a solid oak or maple door, best of luck finding it for $65!
Here's a good analogy:

Imagine a polyester made-in-China discount rack coat. It's brand new, it looks good, it's in perfect condition.
On the other hand, imagine a vintage pure wool made-in-Canada coat. It's got a few scuffs and may need a clean (use a green dry cleaner, people!). 2 years from now, the polyester coat is probably going to be in worse shape than its older but better quality counterpart. Truth is, they don't make 'em like they used to. So if something has been around for 100 years, it's probably going to be around for another century.

3. Services offered:
Oddly enough, you can use Eco Reno even if you're not currently undertaking home improvements. That's because they do free pick-ups for quality building materials. Check out their web page on the subject (French only) for information on what sort of materials qualify. This means that if you spot some good stuff on the side walk, you can give them a call and they'll come and get it for free. If you ARE doing reno, the deal is even sweeter: they will actually send over a crew to dismantle a door frame or window for you and cart it away free of charge.
You can watch a video of the process here.
And of course, you can always go over and buy used building materials. These materials include doors, windows, wood work, taps, sinks, bathtubs, antique door knobs, brass numbers, stained glass panels, and more.
Their address is:
6631 Papineau Ave.
Phone: (514) 725-9990

4. Brand new:
Okay, maybe not exactly brand new: Eco Reno also sells recycled paint (brand name "Boomerang") and a line of low-VOC, locally made and eco-friendly wood stains, candles, etc.

5. Guarantees: I asked the General Manager, Bruno GariƩpy, what guarantees Eco Reno offers for its products. He says there's a 7 day money back policy. But there are very few complaints. The staff on the floor is extremely helpful and everything is analyzed and refurbished by professionals before being put on sale. The satisfaction rate (just from the folks I chatted with who were return customers) seems to be pretty high.

6. More benefits: If you really need reasons other than great prices, good quality and good service to use Eco Reno, consider this: These building materials are OLD. They're part of our heritage. What a travesty for an intricately carved wooden moulding or antique door knob to end up in a dump unloved. Although any home with Eco Reno pieces is unlikely to look like a catalogue shoot, think about all the character, all the stories that you're bringing into your own history. THAT, oddly enough, to me is the most compelling reason to use recuperated materials.

7. No furniture: Just to be clear, Eco Reno doesn't do furniture. Just so you know... That need would be better met at a thrift store like the Salvation Army.

But I want YOUR opinion. What do you think of Eco Reno and places like it? Would you be willing to (and have you) used used building materials? I wanna know. Leave me a comment or call our talkback line: (514) 597-5626

If you can't get out to Eco Reno or can't find what you want, don't forget there's other green reno options:
1. Thrift stores Many stores like Value Village, the Salvation Army and others offer building materials and furniture

2. Eco Centres: Check out your local eco centre for everything from furniture and recycled paint to doors and electronics.

3. Online: Don't forget to check posts on Craigslist, Lespacs and Freecycle

4. Garage sales
: Scout around for treasures for pennies in your neighbourhood.

Let me know what green resources you use for green renovations. I'd love to hear from you.

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Comments (2)

L Lazar


Concerning the renovations and be green, finally you proposed something not stupid, less useful or too expensive!
After 1 or 2 years (not sure) there is something interesting in your emission.
good job!

Posted November 3, 2008 07:45 PM



Geeta this is awesome! I love the charm of heritage fixtures. I've been looking for a coffee table for so long but it's hard because antique stores normally don't carry this because they are a newer invention. Do they have tables there?

Posted November 14, 2008 10:44 PM

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