The house that Craigslist built
Bargain hunter used cunning, patience online to assemble his dream house
SEATTLE ‘We call it Craig’s house, in fact,” says David Henderson, stay-at-home dad, first-time general contractor and, more to the point, ace hunter-gatherer.
And it is. From the fir-ply kitchen cabinets to the old-growth, clear-fir ceiling; from the stainless-and-copper bathroom sink to the live-edge madrona bar. There’s also the Wolf kitchen exhaust fan, the fir stairs (once two massive South Lake Union warehouse beams), the cedar bathroom ceiling (from a swimming-pool room in Enumclaw) and fir doors (fell off a truck) remade into barn-door sliders.
Craig is all over this place.
“There are so many things in this house that have a story,” Henderson says.
“Karen found the house looking online during a typhoon in Vietnam. We had lots of time on our hands,” he says, speaking of his wife and the trip they took with their two 5-year-olds in 2008.
“We lived on the bluff over Shilshole Marina, but the house was old, and we needed more room. But we wanted to find a house that had an equally amazing view. This house had that. But it was just ugly.”
Leaping to the end of his adventure in Blue Ridge, he adds, “Everything from your feet up is new” — 14 months from ripping off the roof and gutting what lay beneath to completion. With as much of it as possible culled from Craigslist.
“The guys would say, ‘Dave, what are we gonna put here?’ And I’d say, ‘I don’t know yet. I haven’t found it.’ ”
Going shopping with Henderson means pulling your chair up to the computer. He figures he spent an hour a day trolling the site’s “materials” department. It was a habit that paid off over and over again.
He found a guy from Snoqualmie Pass who built a timber-framed house. “I got a lot of timber from him. We’d meet at the park-and-ride to make the swap.
“Ecco Haus had a Bellevue store, but they closed. They had this whole kitchen advertised; the cabinets, the counter. It even came with plans from their kitchen designer.”
And to fit those into the kitchen? “I downloaded CAD [computer assisted design] programs and used those during the two-week trial period.“
The main floor holds the living spaces. The family opened the downstairs with a wide set of steps to a family room and kids art/play room. The powder room there: a cool stainless sink with a copper exterior; $300, Craigslist.
Henderson nods toward the ceiling: 10,000 linear feet of old-growth Doug fir with hardly a knot. A major Craigslist score from Shelton. The untouched, 55-year-old lumber was discovered in a lumber company warehouse. “I was the first guy down there,” Henderson says. “They had 11 people coming to see it after me. We really didn’t have plans for the ceiling. It was just going to be white.”
Henderson’s Craigslist adventure worked both ways. “I sold a lot of the stuff on Craigslist, even the old insulation. By the end it was amazing how much leftover stuff we sold.”
What bargains he couldn’t get on Craigslist he found elsewhere. The dishwashers (Asko) and refrigerator (Amana) are from the Albert Lee seconds sale. The Kenmore induction cooktop and oven are Sears clearance.
The backsplash tiles in the kitchen, by the way, are from an actual tile store.
“Karen said to me, ‘You can’t spend your whole life getting everything for less.’ ”
But he can try.