The Salvage Sister – Skip-diving secrets

They don’t call her The Salvage Sister for nothing! Brighton born and bred Charis Williams is a designer and TV presenter who has featured on Channel 4’s Fill Your House for Free and UKTV Home’s The New Reclaimers. Here, she shares some top secrets for getting your mitts on some fab freebies.

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Skips are great for finding good free stuff, you’ve got to be on it all the time though! It’s a lifestyle, not a fashion statement. I keep my eye out wherever I’m going for skips that are full of goodies.

A good skip will uncover plenty of great materials including wood, furniture, sometimes metal if you get there before the scrapman, homewares, textiles, building materials, plumbing, bathroom suites, paint, fixtures, fittings, doors and more – you’d be surprised what some people will throw away.

If you’re searching for a skip look out for scaffolding, nine times out of ten scaffolded buildings have a skip, and scaffolding is a lot easier to see from further away.

Charis’ top tips:

  • Always ask permission first! Even though the owner has thrown the junk on a skip, legally it’s still on their property so you might be arrested for taking things without asking. A little knock on the door, a smile and some manners will go a long way.
  • Make sure you are dressed for the occasion. Wear suitable clothes such as sturdy footwear and thick gloves. You don’t want to drop a brick on your foot, stab yourself with a rusty nail or end up in A&E no matter how good that junk is.
  • Leave the place tidy. Put unwanted items back and make sure you place them down how they were, stacking a skip properly can be difficult when you have lots to go in it. They are expensive to rent so make sure you don’t ruin the hirer’s hard work.
  • Remember, you are saving items from landfill and saving yourself cash so enjoy yourself but always be safe and polite, it’s important not to give skip-diving a bad name.
  • Take items when you see them. Otherwise you’ll miss out as there are a few of us at it! Take a van with you or put your car seats down if you can, goodies left behind probably won’t be there when you get back.
  • Keep an open mind. While you’re looking, imagine what you could do with items you see, lengths of wood are great for a variety of uses, shelves for instance. Think about all the up-cycling possibilities as you dig.
  • Take a screwdriver with you. Even if the old furniture can’t be of use to you, you might want the handles, knobs or feet.
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