New Kitchen, Old Cabinets: How to Fund Your Remodel Using Dumpsters

It may sound crazy, but roll-off dumpsters can be great places to find items for your kitchen remodel. The next time you're renovating on a tight budget, take a drive around the neighborhood and scout out others just like you who are gutting rooms or flipping homes. Their dumpsters could contain amazing surprises. Just remember to follow a few rules of courtesy and decorum before you begin browsing. 

Ask First

Always ask permission from the homeowner before attempting to pillage his dumpster. Just like you, other folks engaged in a home renovation may be trying to cut corners any way they can, and this might mean salvaging old windows, doors, or countertops.

Just because items are sitting in or beside a dumpster on private property doesn't make them fair game. It could just be where someone put them to get them temporarily out of the way. Besides, it's illegal to forage on private property without permission. You wouldn't want a stranger rummaging through the garbage bags in your driveway, so offer the same respect to the person whose dumpster looks intriguing.

Simply ask politely if you can have access to his dumpster at the end of the day. He can only say yes or no. Just remember to get their name and phone number if they says yes, so you can call them to verify should a concerned neighbor notice you digging. 


Once you've obtained permission to browse, pick a discreet location away from the action and notice what's going in. Some items are a better find than others. According to HomeAdvisor, cabinetry and flooring are two of the biggest expenditures in a kitchen remodel. If you can score either of these two items still in salvageable condition, it will save you big money on your own project.

Close seconds are countertops and appliances. If you find a homeowner who's especially open to letting you dumpster dive, it's possible he might even consider setting big items like these aside for you if you ask. You'll have a better chance of obtaining undamaged pieces if the homeowner is willing to work with you. 

Set Up a Time 

You've obtained verifiable consent, and you've noticed items going into the roll-off dumpster that look intriguing, but when should you make your move? It's probably best to wait until the end of the workday to begin rummaging. You don't want to get in the way of workers or contractors, or you might find your license to plunder revoked.

Stay out of the way during work hours, or better yet, ask the homeowner to set a time or day. On the other hand, if someone sets something aside specifically for you, it's fine to load up right away. Just make sure to get in and get out and not leave your truck blocking driveways or vehicles. 

Be Courteous

Never drive through someone's grass to collect items, unless they've specifically told you to do so. And when you're sorting through the items in the dumpster, be neat. Keep the trash contained inside the dumpster and not all over the lawn. If you have permission to sort through the dumpster, that's where you stay.

Never enter the construction or browse the building supplies that are stacked nearby in anticipation. Even if you're not considering helping yourself, it could look that way to someone else. Play it safe and stay where you have permission to be. 

Gathering discarded but reusable items for your own remodel should be simple and painless when you follow these basic rules of common courtesy and respect. For more information, talk to resources such as Tri-State Disposal.