The Montana Craigslist Reclaimed Home

Penny by Penny or Piece by Piece

Wednesday Apr. 1st, 2015

It was early last fall, I was browsing Craigslist, and a post about the need for reclaimed materials caught my eye. It said something to this effect: Hi everyone I’m Scott, my wife and I just bought ten acres of land and are trying to build our dream home from usable materials from remodels and extra lumber that folks just have laying around next to the shed or garage ...We are also looking for old homes and old buildings that may need to be taken down ... We are very resourceful people and we plan to be completely off-grid ..Our goal is to have as close to 0 out of pocket on this project as possible..So if anyone knows of any lumber or out-buildings that need to be taken down just let us know...Our goal is to turn what one calls trash into our dream..So any builders that have spare lumber on your site, we will come clean it up ... Again, thank you!

I was instantly intrigued. My inner idealist wanted to know so much more about the project. I called Scott and we have been in touch several times. I also liked the project on Facebook and started following the progress of the Montana Craigslist Reclaimed Home.

Since the summer of 2014 Scott and his wife have collected items from the greater Bozeman area all while working their full time jobs. Scott has worked in the construction field for 17 years, his current job is the result of someone answering his Craigslist ad. Through working in construction, Scott knew of the waste accumulated on a job site and has seen the quantity of materials just tossed into dumpsters on the sites. Scott’s definition of reclaimed is: “any materials that someone else deems unusable or (un)needed by them that would otherwise be discarded or destroyed.” When asked if he would recommend others use reclaimed materials, he answered with a resounding, “Most positively, yes.” He heartily admits it is not at all an easy thing to do and, a strong, open mindset as well as knowledge of building and materials, would all have to be a part of the equation for the reclaimed builder.

Just as building a home from reclaimed items is not for everyone, the project has met some resistance from neighbors not as awestruck and supportive of the project as I am. In mid-March Scott’s Craigslist posts began to be flagged. Craigslist (CL) users self-publish tens of millions of free postings each month; all craigslist postings are subject to CL terms of use. Most CL posts easily stay within the guidelines, as does Scott’s Montana Craigslist Reclaimed Home. The flaggers believe Scott is not adhering to the binding covenants of the neighborhood’s HOA and that these covenants will be enforced by the County Attorney. After a quick phone call to the Gallatin County Courthouse, I learned this is not the case. There are in fact no HOA covenants in the area (a main reason he purchased land there), anything outside the City limits is not classified as a priority, and so it would not be within the County Attorneys purview.

Overall the reception for the Montana Craigslist Reclaimed Home in the Bozeman area has been great, and folks have been very supportive and generous. The entire project should take between 3-4 years. When finished, Scott and his wife will have a house of their own, a pond for their grand kids to enjoy, animals, a large garden, and a few cabins for family and friends to stay in. Scott’s dream is to be as close to self-sustained as possible.

If you have questions, or have materials to donate you can connect with Scott either on the Montana Craigslist Reclaimed Home Facebook page or via email: Scott concludes with these words “We want to make a difference in this world for us and our family, to better the future and teach them the value of the things that are around them.” His favorite quote from his daughter (who has been helping at the site) is, “Build or chase your dreams even if its penny by penny or piece by piece”.    

Angie Ripple is a third generation Montanan and publisher of Bozeman Magazine. Her rugged individualism drives her to root for the underdog and be a champion of the people.