Dreaming of a Wolf stove and a Miele dishwasher? Think recycled

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Picture a multimillion dollar mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, getting unceremoniously demolished, its very expensive, very functional contents reduced to rubble.


That’s what Steve Feldman saw on a fateful day in 2001 that would change the direction of his life and give birth to Renovation Angel, a nonprofit he founded that is devoted to salvaging luxury kitchens. Instead of allowing these kitchens to be carted off to the dump, Feldman decided to offer them to savvy buyers for a fraction of their original price.


It’s a virtuous circular economy that benefits the donor, the purchaser and perhaps most significantly, the environment. The company has also gone beyond its environmental mission, and donated $2.3 million to charitable programs for at-risk youth and addiction recovery.


Sure, there’s recycling at the curb. And there is evidence that an environmentally friendly home can save its owner money, and lure tenants and buyers. Then there’s recycling on the scale of Renovation Angel. For the smart, hands-on real estate investor who is willing to think outside the box, using reclaimed materials in a renovation makes sense on multiple levels, from the savings, to the delivery turnaround, to the reduction in a home’s carbon footprint.


Variously called upcycling, reclaimed, recycled, or reused, the result is the same: an upgrade with more character, and often higher-end appliances, than what’s available at big box stores.

Connecting the dots with kitchens and consumers

“Houses have been getting torn down in luxe communities forever,” says Feldman. “At the same time, ultra-high-net people are into sustainability, and consumers are on that bandwagon, too.”


Renovation Angel connects the dots so that luxe kitchens find their way to other homes instead of the trash.


“Our focus is on kitchens, and we’re the only nationwide organization that does this,” Feldman says. “We’ve been working for 2 decades on developing a pipeline for getting the inventory, which is the biggest challenge. These are instant kitchens, you don’t have to wait 6 months, I have supply right now because I’ve aggregated it.”


RA recycles luxury kitchens nationwide and has crews working on high-end homes in Palm Beach, Chicago, Beverly Hills, and beyond. All inquiries are handled by RA’s main office in New Jersey.

The Renovation Angel playbook

“Renovation Angel is a place where you can feel good, spend less money, and do something good for the planet,” notes Feldman. “That’s the formula for the donors, the buyers and the manufacturers.”


From the donor’s perspective, the process starts with a kitchen evaluation that can be submitted online. Once a kitchen qualifies, it’s inspected by an RA specialist, and a Net Value Estimate is issued. That estimate includes the projected tax savings. The last step is free white-glove packing by highly trained professionals, along with a new life for the kitchen.


Mina Greiss, president of the design and build firm Greiss Holdings in New Jersey, who has used RA since 2014, says it’s a “no-brainer” for donors. “This is the one company that will come, remove your kitchen very neatly, give you a tax deduction, and you don’t have to pay a contractor to rip it up or pay for a container.”


From the buyer’s perspective, it all begins with a visit to RA’s New Jersey location or by browsing their website, which is constantly updated with new inventory. Buyers will need the exact dimensions of the renovation area, especially ceiling height.


“Our team works with the buyer to see if a kitchen will fit their space,” Feldman said. “We’ll do a layout comparison so people can check if there’s enough cabinetry and ceiling height.”


RA advises buyers to purchase a kitchen slightly larger than the projected space so there will be extra cabinetry to work with. Once purchased, RA ships nationwide with fees dependent on the distance from its outlet in Fairfield, NJ, or the location where the kitchen is being removed. Upon delivery, the buyer has 3 days to unpack the trailer and up to 14 days to report any issues, and according to the company’s return policy, must either pay to have it shipped back or bring it back to the showroom, where a 5 percent restocking fee is charged. (This fee is waived if the buyer exchanges the items.)


The buyer’s contractor is responsible for the install.


“All of our pre-owned product is ‘as-is’ with no warranty,” said Feldman. “The steeply discounted price reflects the ‘as-is’ status. Some of our showroom display and new-in-box product carries a limited warranty which is offered through the manufacturer.”

How a recycled kitchen helps investors

The kitchen is the heart of any home, and can be the make-or-break factor when consumers are considering a purchase or rental. Outdated appliances, old floors and seen-better-days cabinets and countertops can be red flags that discourage buyers or potential tenants. But an entire kitchen renovation may not provide a worthwhile return on investment. A 2021 report by Remodeling, on the cost versus value for major kitchen remodel, estimates that it recoups just 57 percent of the project’s cost.


At Renovation Angel, the consumer can save up to 90% off retail pricing. For Greiss, who has purchased close to 50 kitchens for remodels from Renovation Angel, the affordability was the first thing that attracted him.


“When I went to the store for the first time, it was a great luxury outlet, not your typical beat-up kitchen cabinets,” Greiss said. “Renovation Angel is almost like the Nordstrom of thrift shops for kitchens. I bought my first 2 kitchens for about $10,000 combined, with unused showroom cabinets and Wolf and Sub Zero appliances. Originally, they would have been priced at $50,000 to $60,000 for both.”


On their web site recently, RA had a “Wentworth Pre-Owned Authentic Traditional Kitchen” complete with granite countertops, island with seating, solid wood stained cabinetry and a Wolf stove, plus much more, for $7,299. (A Wolf stove starts at about $4,700.)


Similarly, a Blomberg stainless steel refrigerator that retails for about $1,700 was available for $834.


It also had a Poggenpohl showroom display in a natural grain for almost $45,000, and a Subzero refrigerator for about $6,999. Bargains, it seems, are in the eyes of the beholder.


Feldman explains that RA aggregates multiple product types that would otherwise meet an early landfill death: preowned, which can mean lightly used or unused; showroom displays; open box product; and new-in box products (canceled orders, discontinued products) from manufacturers, distributors, and showrooms.


Susan Vanech, a Connecticut-based Compass realtor, has taken advantage. “It makes great sense because of the savings,” she said.

Vanech will snap up RA’s kitchens even without having a specific home in mind. “I’ll buy when I see the value even if I don’t have a project ready to go,” she says, and has built a personal warehouse specifically for that purpose.


Recently, Greiss sold a home in Glen Ridge, NJ, for $2 million that had been listed at $1.59 million. He believes the deciding factor was a major feature salvaged from RA.


“You’re getting something that’s quality and it’s 10 times better than Home Depot,” Greiss says. “Most buyers understand what’s quality and what’s not. People latch onto Renovation Angel details in a way they can’t with other homes.”


Vanech agrees that RA boosts value both coming and going.


“I’m re-installing a kitchen that I wouldn’t usually be able to afford, at a fraction of the price,” Vanech reported. “Then the buyer is saying, ‘I’m going to pay extra for this house,’ because, thanks to an RA kitchen, there are finishes that normally wouldn’t be present in a house at that price range.”


And since the global supply-chain crisis has delayed the delivery of many appliances, RA savings can also be calculated in speedy installs of in-stock products.


“I just had to wait 4 months for something that usually takes 9 weeks,” Vanech says. “Time is money and it costs us to wait, in something like missed rent. Steve has materials that are ready to go, and there’s value in that alone.”

Measuring the environmental impact

“We have kept 50 million pounds out of landfill,” Feldman boasts. An average kitchen is 7,000 pounds, including the cabinetry, countertops, sinks, etc. according to Feldman, and Renovation Angel has recycled over 7,000 kitchens to date.


Diverting trash from landfills has a number of extremely positive effects on the environment, represented by what that would-be trash is not doing: adding to air and soil pollution, endangering public health, and negatively impacting wildlife and their ecosystems.


And that’s something a buyer can feel good about for the duration of a RA kitchen’s life. It’s essentially a badge of environmental responsibility and stewardship, which more and more people are becoming invested in as climate change progresses at an alarming pace.


Vanech sums it up: “Renovation Angel is a best practice for buyers, as well as sellers.”

A how-to shopping guide

Stay on the inventory

Greiss’ #1 tip for would-be RA buyers: “Always check the site for new supply that’s coming in. Just because they don’t have what you need one day, doesn’t mean they won’t have it the next,” he advises. “And talk to the salespeople, they’ll know what’s coming in the following month.”


Act fast

“The big thing is, are you going to be able to buy it before someone else?” says Feldman. “Because they’re one-offs, if you spend too much time deciding, you’ll probably lose it.”


Choose a contractor and installer carefully

Lori Gasgoyne, an interior designer who has purchased 8 RA kitchens to date, says: “You’ve got to have a good contractor and installer. RA kitchens are more work, so you need pros who are flexible and an installer who’s willing to do it.”


Greiss advises: “Choose a contractor who’s a little more experienced.”


Consider other used, high-end appliances

It’s not just entire kitchens from RA that are a big win for investors. High-end, name-brand appliances are known to be a powerful lure for renters and buyers alike. There are local recyclers who specialize in appliances in many parts of the country for investors willing to do their homework.


This article originally appeared on Mynd


and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

More from MediaFeed:

Renovation vs remodel: What’s the difference?


If you’re a homeowner considering a range of home improvements, you may not know if what you’re planning is a renovation or a remodel. Does it matter? Yes, because there are key differences.


A renovation is an update of an existing room or structure, while a remodel affects the design and purpose of an area. The more extensive work in a remodel will influence the cost and length of your project.


Related: Home equity
loans vs personal loans for home improvement




During a renovation, one or more rooms are updated and repaired. This might include new cabinets, flooring, and paint.


The bones of the room are typically left intact, though some structural issues may be fixed in a renovation, such as replacing rotting wood or swapping out window frames suffering from water damage.


A kitchen renovation might include replacing appliances, faucets and knobs, while a bedroom reno might call for paint, new rugs or new lighting.


Bathroom renovations often involve installing new tile, towel racks and faucets.



DragonImages / Getty


Renovations are typically less costly than remodels, thanks to several factors.





If you’re handy, you can slash some of the cost of hiring someone to undertake your renovation by doing some of the work yourself.


Because most renovations don’t require structural changes, you likely won’t be on the hook to hire licensed professionals to get it done. That means anything that you’re capable of—painting, wallpapering, floor sanding—you can do and pocket what it would have cost to hire help.


Just make sure you are skilled enough; hiring a professional to redo what you couldn’t complete may cost you money you didn’t plan on spending.




Since a renovation doesn’t call for major expenses like hiring licensed professionals or other construction-related outlays, in some cases the project offers more bang for the buck than a renovation does.


Renovation-related tweaks will still improve the look and feel of your home, and thus increase the value of your home, without the major expense a renovation entails.


You might want to try this handy home improvement ROI estimator.


When you’re renovating a room, your action plan is pretty cut and dry, and there aren’t likely to be surprises that require you to spend more than you planned.


Not so with a remodel, which, due to its scope, may result in additional costs to fix unforeseen problems such as hidden water damage, termites or asbestos.


These surprises can also lengthen the time of your project.


cerro_photography / istockphoto


Remodels are typically more extensive than renovations. They include altering the function and sometimes the structure of an area of the house.

If your project calls for tearing down or adding walls or changing the layout of a room, you’re planning a remodel.


Some examples of remodels: changing a powder room into a laundry room, knocking down a wall between a dining room and kitchen to create a great room, building an addition to your existing home or expanding a closet into a dressing room.


Even if you’re not tearing down or adding walls, your project may be a remodel. This might include moving kitchen appliances around to improve room flow, tearing out a tub and installing a walk-in shower in a bathroom or turning a small guest bedroom into a home office.




Many homeowners find there are pluses to a remodel as opposed to a renovation.





As homeowners grow with their home, they may find that their needs change.

Some may want an addition to accommodate an aging parent, while others may have expanded their families and need to convert a home office into a nursery.


Empty-nesters may want to use one of their bedrooms as a study or gym.

A remodel affords them more options than a renovation does because they can make the necessary changes—however major—to achieve their needs.




Adding an island to a kitchen and removing a wall to create a larger space might mean more than increased room to prepare meals. You may find your family spends more time together in rooms that are spacious and inviting.


Similarly, retrofitting your heating and cooling system, adding under-floor heating and replacing insulation might result in lower utility bills, freeing up money for hobbies or vacations.


PC Photography/istockphoto


All of that means remodels are costlier than renovations. Here’s why.





Thanks to the extensive nature of most remodels, many cities require homeowners to secure a permit before they begin work, especially if the project involves creating an addition to the home, or if new walls or new roofs are being installed. This is to ensure that building codes are followed.


If you need permits, you will want to factor the time it takes to secure them into your timeline. Once the permits are approved, the project may begin. And once it is completed, it will likely need to be approved by a local inspector.




If your remodel requires electrical, duct, or plumbing work, you will likely need to hire a licensed professional to complete it.


You may also need to hire a general contractor to hire and oversee these workers and others for larger remodels like adding a guest suite to the home or converting an attic to a home office with an en-suite bathroom.


These vendors, while necessary, can be costly since you are paying for their time in addition to any materials.


Rawpixel / istockphoto


While it can be exciting to imagine what your home will look like after a remodel, getting there can be taxing. That’s because you may be living in a construction zone as the project is underway.


It can be difficult to have to eat multiple takeout meals because your kitchen is being worked on, or deal with dust from work being done in the next room over.

If their remodel is especially extensive, some homeowners find they need to rent a home nearby until the remodel has been completed.




Whether you’re undertaking a renovation or remodel, you’ll want to have a budget and a payment plan. Some renovations are small enough that homeowners can pay upfront.


Those tackling remodels and larger renovations might tap a home equity loan or home equity line of credit, when the home is used as collateral.

An unsecured, fixed-rate home improvement loan is another option.


A cash-out refinance also can free up part of the difference between the mortgage balance and the home’s value.


Recommended: Home Equity Loans vs Personal Loans for Home Improvement




Undertaking home improvements can be exciting for homeowners. But before you embark on a project, know whether you’re looking at a renovation or a remodel, how much inconvenience you’re willing to put up with, and what you are willing to pay.

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