How do I know if this is trash? – Garage Edition

It’s spring cleaning time. Or perhaps you’re tasked with cleaning out a relative’s garage. Or maybe you have inherited some stuff you just don’t want.

But is it trash?

How do you know?

Here’s a handy guide to what is – and isn’t – trash in your garage.

Lawnmower:

That old gas guzzling, gray cloud spewing lawnmower. You thought maybe you got rid of it when you got the new one … was that six years ago? Seven?

Ask some key questions. Is it in almost-usable shape? If so, there are good reasons to donate it to a lawnmower repair place. A lot of lawnmowers are built with standard-size parts, and these can be used or upcycled to keep other lawnmowers in good repair. Donate

If it worked when you replaced it, someone might be able to get it working again, depending on the extent of the damage. Donate

Is it covered in rust, with visible damage from the elements and maybe rodents? (Rodents are attracted to the sweet taste of common engine oils.)  Trash

Hand tools:

Still sturdy and in workable shape? These are the types of tools that can get re-worked and put to good use for another generation. Donate

Covered in rust? Unmoveable? Showing physical signs of decay? Trash

Siding and building materials:

You forgot that you kept that bag of shingles after the roofing project, “just in case.” But there it is, under something that was under something in your garage. Or maybe it is a few yards of siding.

Do you still have that shingle / siding on your house? You might want to keep it, let’s see how we do on these questions: is it still the original color without staining? Keep

There really is no place to donate these. However, maybe you’re lucky and the siding is true aluminum siding? Recycle

Oh, it’s just discolored siding from an old project? Trash

Turf builder and lawn food:

Do you feel lucky, even though it is expired? Many lawn and garden chemicals change properties over time, but they tend to become a little bit weaker. Applying them to your lawn won’t do damage, as long as you follow the rules on the side of the bag. Keep

But your lawn is your greatest joy and you don’t want to take any chances? Many of these can go directly to the dump, but you don’t want to risk it.  Read the label, then, and dispose of as directed. Trash

Old sporting equipment:

Oh the memories in that old tennis racket. Remember that one game of croquet we played that summer when this set was new? Sadly, time and technology have moved on. If your racket is more than 7 years old, it’s not going to find a new home. That old basketball with a water stain, and that volleyball that you THINK MIGHT hold air? No one cares, and no one is about to start using it now that it has been found. Trash

Aww, my old baseball glove. So many good memories, mostly from being with friends before and after the game. Memories are hard to replace. Bring it inside, dust it off, oil it up, and wrap it in newspaper. Keep

Big Do-It-Yourself Projects

Home prices are skyrocketing and the housing market is struggling to keep pace with demand. In this market, many homeowners are choosing to take on major renovation projects around the house.

 

These major projects probably require a contractor, though the handiest of fix-it people might try to take these on themselves.

 

Here are popular projects based on the value they add to your living space.

 

Basement renovation:  few renovation projects add square footage as efficiently as a basement remodel. There are lots of ideas for how to do it, but full agreement on why: usually the infrastructure is in place for an economical expansion. Better yet, basement renovations often yield high returns on the investment. Homeowners who later sell often realize more than 70% return on their investment in a basement.

 

Kitchen renovation: kitchen renovations are among the most complex, costly, and time-consuming projects a homeowner can take on. At around $100 per square foot, they can really set a homeowner back. Nationally, owners report that they only return between 50% and 60% on their investment in a sale.

 

A kitchen remodel almost always means working with electricity and water, so often the work involves coordinating multiple professionals and managing their schedules. Unfortunately, many homeowners must plan to leave their house for a period of time for a kitchen renovation.

 

Adding a room: Adding new space can be an attractive way to renovate your house. Adding a mudroom, breakfast nook, or even a full guest room over the garage, can be accomplished without adding expensive foundation elements. There are lots of ideas for where and what to add, and a wide range of costs. Picking the project that will be most useful for your family is important.

 

Renovating a bathroom: Bathroom renovations can be almost as powerful as kitchen renovations in shaping your quality of life. There is not another room where you are certain to visit at least twice a day, and no space knows you as intimately. Making the space larger, warmer, and adding storage are common adaptations. Expect a bathroom renovation to return nearly 70% on investment, according to Zillow.

 

 

Remember, despite information about the return on investment, there are even better reasons to take on these renovations. They simply make your space better.

 

More than one homeowner has taken on a major renovation to prepare for a sale, and decided to stay. They found that their new space was better than any house they might find on the market.

Six Steps to the Best Garage Sale Ever

Getting ready for your garage sale is as much about finding the right state of mind as it is about finding things to sell.

 

In order to get in the garage sale mindset, one might first watch a few minutes of Marie Kondo or Clean House, and perhaps an episode or two of Hoarders.

 

You know who you don’t want to be!

 

Once you are serious about getting rid of what you no longer need, you are ready to follow these simple steps to prepare for your garage sale or perhaps plan a neighborhood yard sale.

 

Just follow these 6 simple steps to the best garage sale

 

  1. Thoroughly clean in unusual places. Your living room might not have a lot of excess junk in it, or the dining room either. You live in those spaces and regularly tidy up and get rid of useless items. This is a time to tackle the back of the garage, a basement closet, or those boxes you never unpacked from the move.
  2. Don’t throw anything out – yet. Some people suggest doing an early cull and throwing away the “junk” before setting it out. But for most homes, your collection of unwanted items is relatively small. Lots of garage sale visitors work from a list of addresses and drive by the site before deciding whether to stop. Having lots of stuff entices people to stop by and browse.
  3. Set a date and advertise as your budget allows. Local paper? Social media? Printed fliers on the library bulletin board and neighborhood telephone poles? It’s all about your budget and time. Usually ads are relatively cheap. Some local papers offer a coupon for one free ad a month to their subscribers – take advantage of it!
  4. Label your prices – but be prepared to lose a haggle. The fun of a garage sale is getting money – any amount of money – for something you were about to throw away. Too many people end up throwing out or donating items after having asked too high a price during the sale. Now you not only don’t have the money, but you have one more thing to haul away. Everyone loses in that scenario.
  5. Combined garage sale? Use colored labels and keep a sheet at checkout with the actual negotiated price, to make dividing up the money at the end relatively easy. And don’t quibble over a few dollars here or there. Money left over and unaccounted for? Split it? A small dispute over the remaining $5? Hand it over. You have already won by cleaning out your space.
  6. Resolve to never let those items re-enter your house. After the garage sale, look at what’s left. The broken phonograph, the bike parts, the clothing. Some of these items can NOW be labeled junk and thrown in a curbside rental garbage bag, or perhaps into your own trash. The rest can go to a charity where they will find a new home. You’ve already thrown them away once. No sense taking them back in the house and having to throw them away again later.

Create a Neighborhood Yard Sale

There are many problems with garage and yard sales. There is gathering stuff together, deciding on prices, putting it out on display that morning, and lots of other logistics. This includes advertising.

 

You could advertise in the local paper, Craigslist, Facebook, with neighborhood fliers, and other social media. Few people have the resources to advertise in any broader way.

 

So the real problem is, you are unlikely to draw a big enough crowd to sell everything you hoped to sell.

 

That’s if you do it alone. You don’t have to do it alone. By doing a little extra prep work, you can divide the effort and multiply the crowd you get for your neighborhood yard sale.

 

Create a neighborhood yard sale:

 

Here’s a quick overview of how to create a neighborhood yard sale.

 

  1. Pick three dates that work for you, the further in advance the better. It would be ideal to be six months in advance, but even two months might be enough.
  2. Give these dates to your neighbors in a flier (put it in their door handle, not their mailbox!) Or just talk with three or four of them.
  3. Then pick the consensus date.
  4. Ask for one volunteer to do each of the following:
    1. Design fliers that provide the date, times, and location of the neighborhood sale
    2. Post those fliers in visible spaces around your community
    3. Create a .jpeg image with this information that multiple families can share on their own social media account
    4. Plan for removing unwanted items at the end of the day – some to a dumpster rented for that purpose and some to a local charity
  5. If feasible, add the following fun tweaks, assigning one per person:
    1. Get the street blocked off
    2. Invite a food truck
    3. Add a face painting booth
    4. Allow other neighbors from outside of your neighborhood to sell from your space
  6. Send a reminder two weeks before to all your neighbors – it’s time to clean and prep items for sale, including marking them with tags and setting prices.
  7. Clearly mark the price on items and, if more than one family is selling from a particular garage or yard, use different color tags to help divide the money at the end of the day
  8. Buy something from a neighbor!
  9. Help your neighbors clean up

 

Hosting a neighborhood yard sale can draw a larger crowd than an individual garage sale. More importantly, if done well, it can build a sense of community.

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