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Organising Building Materials

If you’ve never endured a major renovation project, you would probably not believe how much space building material can take up. This is definitely the case with us, especially as we have quite a lot of materials saved up for future sub-projects of the build. The only thing we could do, was spend some time organising building materials so that we could access it easily and keep our work environment safe for us all.

So, Where Did We Get All our Building Material?

Small Scale Engineering, as you might know, has two aspects to the business. Kevin runs the engineering side, and Louis works on the home and office renovations. As a result, the business itself has accumulated all sorts of materials over the years. Not only that, but our friends and family interested in the project have also generously donated scraps they think we could use. Of course, a fair amount of it has also been bought new especially for the project.

Organising Building Materials

Much of our materials has found storage space on the top of two of the containers. It is easy for us to climb up with a ladder and pass down what we need for whatever we are working on at the time

Plumbing Fittings

Much of our building material is second hand or waste from other projects. Louis has been in the plumbing industry for decades and has quite a collection of old plumbing fittings of all descriptions. A huge portion of it is broken and/or in need of refurbishment before it can be re-used. But, that’s the whole point of this project – reuse and recycle! We have had to spend time cleaning and rebuilding plumbing fittings but that has been to our advantage.

We have recently bought several plastic tubs in which we will store smaller components, both old and new. These tubs will also be useful when we are working on site and need to take assorted plumbing fittings with. The plumbing pipes are stored in a rack system that will be easily dissembled and removed when the house is nearing completion.

storing plumbing materials
Busy organising all the plumbing supplies. Looking forward to saying goodbye to the old ice cream tubs. You do not want to know what is it be found in second hand plumbing pipes!


We also have quite a collection of odd scraps of wood. Louis’ passion is woodwork, so not only do we have bits and pieces of left over wood from projects we have worked on for clients, but we have also received donations. For example, one of our neighbours left the area and donated all his scrap wood to our project.

Kevin has made a rack, using some of this scrap wood, in order to store the planks and off-cuts. We’ve begun building a platform floor over this container, which connects with our landing. Currently, it is extremely convenient for wood storage.

rack of wood pieces
The longest pieces have to stay stacked up on the floor against a wall.


Small Scale Engineering has purchased a few second-hand items of machinery over the years, and with them, the sellers often threw in buckets of old hardware they no longer required. We therefore have most of the basic hardware we need. We are only having to buy the more specialised hardware.

It is impossible finding hardware you want unless it is in some kind of order. Sorting out the hardware is one of the first things we did. Kevin manufactured this rack out of steel on which we can hang all the tubs. Most of them are marked, so even the most ignorant (i.e. myself) of us can find the required hardware.

hardware storage organising building materials
Labelled or not, you sometimes just cannot find the thing you are looking for


We have bought a fair amount of steel from Steel & Pipe for Africa, but again, we’re using as much scrap as we can. Off-cuts and waste steel can be used for brackets and similar structures. So, we keep much of it and only send in the really useless pieces for recycling. The steel is lying loose on top of a second container, where it is out of the way.

What is that plastic pipe doing there??!!

It has been worth our while spending time organising our materials and keeping it organised.

  • It allows us to find things quickly and easily as related items are all in one location
  • We also have a good idea of what we have in our “hardware store” because we have recently gone through.
  • Most importantly: having designated spaces for all the materials makes our work site safer.

It is definitely a work in progress though, and will probably be something we have to work at until the project comes to an end. It is not easy keeping everything in order and there will always be room for improvement. As if the universe wanted to remind me of this fact, I managed to kick my toe against something and cut it open, while I was taking the photos for this post. The irony.

We would love to hear about your tips and tricks on organising your building materials for your DIY projects. Please leave a comment below.

2 thoughts on “Organising Building Materials

  1. A place for everything and everything in its place… It takes a bit of time to set up a system, but once it’s set up, it saves you SO much time (and frustration) in the long run!

    1. Or at least that’s what we are hoping 😏

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