Friday, March 9, 2007

Donate a house, protect the valley

Hailey-based Building Materials Thrift Store accepting house donations

Express Staff Writer

Photo courtesy Bruce Tidwell, Building Materials Thrift Store A moving truck prepares to transport one of the more than 20 homes that have been donated to the Building Materials Thrift Store since 2000. Ninety percent of the funds generated by the auctioning off of these homes are given to the Hailey-based Wood River Land Trust.

Getting ready to raze that older home on your property to make way for construction of a dream house?

If so, the Building Materials Thrift Store in Hailey is hoping you might consider an alternative to the wrecking ball.

The thrift store, located at 3990 South Woodside Blvd. in Hailey, has been providing a great alternative to demolishing homes in the Wood River Valley since 2000.

Funds generated from the auctioning off of homes benefit the Hailey-based Wood River Land Trust, which works to preserve natural areas and open spaces in the Blaine County region.

Out of the dollars generated by those auctions, 90 percent are given to the land trust while the remaining 10 percent is retained by the thrift store for advertising and other administrative costs.

Since the thrift store received its first donated house in 2000, between 20 and 25 homes have been donated and auctioned off to bidders looking to pick up a home whose productive lifespan may stretch for years to come. Last year, the thrift store received one home.

Altogether, the auctioning off of homes has generated about $250,000 in donations for the Wood River Land Trust, thrift store founder Bruce Tidwell said Thursday.

Since the thrift store began accepting house donations, other people and groups throughout the community have begun to do the same, Tidwell said. Just last year, Ketchum-based Advocates for Real Community Housing, or ARCH, accepted the donation of a local home.

"I think we've demonstrated there's a lot of value in these houses," Tidwell said.

For the homeowner who donates a home to the thrift store, the benefits are many, Building Materials Thrift Store board member Tom Blanchard said. These include the recycling of usable buildings that would have ended up in the local landfill, as well as significant tax breaks.

"If somebody bids $30,000 for it, you get a $30,000 tax break," Blanchard said.

Benefiting the Wood River Land Trust's land preservation efforts is another worthwhile reason to consider donating a house.

"There are a lot of people up here that value what the land trust does," he said.

So far this year, no homeowners have stepped forward to donate a house to the thrift store. This may be partly due to the fact, Blanchard said, that the construction market is more concentrated on remodels than new construction.

Recently, finding homeowners who may be interested in donating a house to the thrift store has required more of a watchful eye, he said. Today, the thrift store is looking more carefully to the older neighborhoods in the Wood River Valley where homes are being removed to make way for new construction.

"We're trying to figure out where the transition is taking place," Blanchard said.

Buying an older home and transporting it to a new location is far less expensive than building a new house: "The difference is significant," he said.

And demand for the houses is high.

Successful bidders at the thrift store's home auctions are responsible for the transportation costs associated with trucking homes to their new locations.

Other costs associated with buying homes and placing them on a new lot somewhere else are covered by a comprehensive list Tidwell has put together.

For additional information on donating, or bidding on, a home, call the Building Materials Thrift Store at 788-0014.

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