Chapter 7: $10,000 in Free Materials
Even with my new team-mate and life partner in the wings, the finishing of the treehouse remained daunting, due to financial constraints. Then, one evening I made a key discovery. It was early February and Heidi was traveling in Brazil. I needed a new couch for our suite so I checked out the free section in Craigslist. Nothing came up in my area, so I looked under Vancouver – a 45 minute drive from where I was. To my astonishment, there were valuable items popping up every few minutes. Within five minutes, I discovered a lovely solid-core wooden door. Then, up came 200 square feet luxurious hardwood – enough to cover the HemLoft floor … and free! This was incredible … I could finish my entire treehouse off the finest junk Vancouver had to offer!
A new obsession was born. Every evening, for the next two months, I trolled craigslist, compulsively refreshing every few seconds. It was a game of speed. Most of the good items would get claimed within moments of coming online. Fortunately, I was more motivated than my competitors.
By the time Heidi got back from Brazil, every unclaimed nook of our suite was tightly packed with building supplies. Our bed was enveloped in piles of wood, there was hardwood flooring under our couch, there were glass sheets leaning against the walls, and there was a towering pile of lumber outside our patio door.
My landlord, Mark, couldn’t help but notice what was going on. Looking genuinely concerned, but also slightly amused, he told me he had suffered from the same ‘illness’ many years ago, as he salvaged materials for his first home. Mark was sympathetic to my plight, but warned me about the dangers of heading too far down that path. At that point, I was wondering myself whether I was on to something brilliant, or caught in a bad dream. Either way, it was time to stop collecting materials and start drafting designs for the next season.