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Solo tradies tap website to buy and sell unwanted building materials

Tuesday, 24 September 2013 | By Gavin Lower

Fed up with the waste and expense of unused building materials going into landfill, builder Neil Turrell and wife Leisa came up with the idea of an online platform to buy and sell construction site leftovers.


Since launching in October last year, buildBITS is now receiving around 61,000 visits a month as tradespeople, many of whom are sole traders, seek out second-hand goods or put up for sale excess material they want to get rid of.


“It’s bringing the industry together without treading on toes,” Neil told SmartSolo.


BuildBITS allows tradespeople to list on the website for free items like doors, windows, steel, timber and bricks they no longer need which other tradies can search for and buy.


Neil says the site does not take a cut of any purchase but takes advertising from building industry suppliers, which allows the site to be free for users.


He says with the building industry in Australia currently in a slow spot, builders and tradespeople have been attracted to buildBITS for materials as they seek to keep costs down or make a few dollars by selling what they no longer need.


“It’s easier to sell than to throw out,” Neil says, adding that disposal costs in Australia are “through the roof”.


He says he came up with the idea for the website while he was pulling out a kitchen – “it was beautiful” – and thought it was a “joke” to throw it out.


Neil asked a friend who was involved in the information technology industry to investigate his idea.


“He said it’s a goer,” Neil says.


“Because things are so tight in the building industry and while things are a little quiet, I thought I’d have a go.”


He says he’s been “pleasantly surprised” by the positive reaction to the site by tradies, with the number of products being placed on the site growing by around 11% a month.


Neil says the next step for the site is to redesign the home page to make it easier and simpler for users.