Read on below to catch an excerpt from his article…
But we stumbled onto a much better approach, in the form of a company called Renovation Angel. There’s only one company like it in the country, and its business model is astonishingly airtight:
They send a crew to dismantle, wrap, and haul away your old kitchen, piece by piece, for free. You’re saved the cost of the demolition ($5,000 or so), dumpster rental, and disposal fees. Then they then give you a huge tax deduction. Winner: You.
They set up your kitchen’s components to a 43,000-foot showroom in New Jersey, where they then resell your entire kitchen! Other people who are renovating their kitchens get luxury stuff for a fraction of its usual price—maybe 10% or 20% of its original cost.
Winner: The next owner of your kitchen.
- Over 12 years, this operation has saved 5,000 kitchens from the landfill. Winner: The planet.
- The company employs 35 people. Winner: Renovation Angel’s employees.
- The best part: After expenses, Renovation co-founder Steve Feldman donates the rest of the company’s income to charity—$2.2 million so far. Winners: At-risk children, recovering addicts, job trainees.
This is, in other words, a win-win-win-win-win scenario.
But does it work?
I love that that this idea has something for both hard-nosed conservatives (“I’ll take that $25,000 tax deduction, thank you”) and bleeding-heart liberals (“Save the environment and help the less fortunate? Sign me up!”) But I’ll just say it: All of this sounded too good to be true.
So I emailed the company. They sent a guy out to look over the kitchen, measure, take photos, and assess its resale value. The economics of this company work out, Feldman says, only if he resells upscale kitchens; at the moment, Renovation Angel accepts only about half of the candidate kitchens.
Our kitchen made the cut. So on the appointed day, a crew of four men—insured, background-checked—spent about four nonstop hours taking the old kitchen apart. (Incredibly, this was their second kitchen of the day.)
The term for this process is demolition, but no destruction was involved. Instead, they carefully unscrewed every piece, wrapped it for protection, and loaded it into a moving truck parked outside. It was amazing to watch, especially in time-lapse (see my video above)
To get the tax deduction, I had to hire an appraiser; but that was my only expense. (I guess that means that somebody else wins from all of this.)
A week later, I visited the Renovation Angel showroom to interview Feldman—and there, among all the other kitchens stacked up for sale, were all the pieces of my own beloved kitchen, ready to move on to a new home. I even saw a New Jersey couple checking it out.
That’s the part I didn’t get. How can someone buy a kitchen from a totally different house? What are the odds that it will fit their kitchen space?
“Everybody has this question,” Feldman says. “The answer is, kitchens are modular. So if you had a 20 by 15-foot space, somebody else might have a 12 by 20 space. They use a few less cabinets. They rearrange them differently. They get different granite. But at the end of the day, they’re saving themselves tens of thousands of dollars.”
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