Do you ever see something a friend posts on Instagram and think “that is so cute I wonder where she got that?” so you ask, and she said hello, Craigslist! And, she throws in, it was only like 75 bucks! (insert mad face emoji)

Or, do you have an entire Pinterest board devoted to stuff you hope to make one day, but that day hasn’t happened yet?

I used to pin projects all the time of things I wanted to make. I especially have a love for building things from scratch, but I also love making rotten things look pretty again.

Here in lies my craigslist vs build it yourself debate.

Here’s how you can tackle your next project and decide, “should I build it or buy it?”

You need to get a plan and get going! Here are some tips to help.

Craigslist- Pros

  • It’s relatively easy to find what you’re looking for if you live in a big enough city. You can also widen your search area to include nearby cities.
  • Pictures of the piece allow you to know a little more about it before hand, descriptions are great too. Having the person’s email address or way to contact them to ask them any unanswered questions is very helpful.

Craigslist- Cons

  • Not knowing the person you are buying from is scary to some people. TIP always give someone you trust the name and address of where you’re going or go with a buddy if you can, especially if you’re unfamiliar with that part of town
  • Used furniture can have things wrong with it such as smoke smell, pet odor, not well taken care of, missing pieces, etc.  All of these cons can also be be barganing chips as well with the seller, so be fair, but also make them be honest. 

Building It- Pros

  • You get to decide exactly what size, shape, color and style your piece is.
  • Looking through plans online is fun and you can customize from there.
  • for what you get in the end it can be the cheaper option if you’re not in a hurry.

Building It – Cons

  • There is a learning curve if you’ve never built before. It definitely takes having some basic knowledge and a few basic tools to be able to consider doing that. If you need a list of those try our setting up shop guide.

  • The cost of lumber plus your time can add up if you don’t have a lot of free time you may not actually be saving money (your time is always worth something). 


When to choose Craigslist over Building it:

I would recommend Craigslist if: You are wanting a project that can be finished up in a day and ready to use quickly after you buy it. If tools intimidate you (I’m here to help with that but it’s not an overnight thing I get it). If you have the space to paint something small but not a space big enough for building something larger. If you don’t get super attached to things and it could just be filler until you have nicer stuff later on. If you find a really good deal on something that is solid wood and would be as nice as something that is built, but the work is done for you.

When to choose Building it over Craigslist:

I would recommend Building it if: You have a small to medium space (1 car garage even works or basement) to be able to use a few tools and assemble what you make. You could even borrow tools from a friend or see if you can use their space for a few days. If you like spending time on a project and are not in a hurry to get it done in one day (even if the plan says one day). If you consider yourself half decent at math. If you aren’t comfortable trekking all over town or out to the boonies but know where a local hardware or home depot store is. If you love to brag (or the good feeling) that you made something, instead of just I re-painted it.

Keep in mind, when we say “Craigslist” we are generally referring to anywhere you might find used furniture. This could also include a thrift store, yard sale, Facebook group, old roommate, or estate sales.  There are so many places you can get good quality pieces.

What questions come to mind when you think about building something vs buying it on Craigslist?  



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