Inside the Peak Auction

While it was busy snowing outside on Saturday, we went to the Howard County Fairgrounds to bid on some building materials at the last Peak Auction of the year. Over the past year we've gotten amazing deals on windows, hardwood flooring, joists, doors, Tyvek wrap, appliances and more. It's a bit of a zoo, but if you know what you want and do your research on what things cost, you can get some unreal deals.

There are always four or more gigantic buildings full of stuff, from the most basic building materials like drywall and lumber to decor accessories like planters and mirrors. You never know what the selection is going to be like, but there are always full sets of solid wood kitchen cabinets (as shown below) that often sell for about $5,000 or less -- a fraction of what you'd pay at retail.

Flooring of all types, widths, finishes and woods is another of the regular main attractions. There are heaps and stacks everywhere (that's all flooring in the pic below), and people can get pretty territorial about it. They'll set up shop next to the skids they want and give you the hairy eyeball if you look too closely at their coveted items. (Usually these types end up leaving empty-handed. I think other people outbid them just for spite.) In addition to getting your building supplies, it's a great place to study human behavior.

This time they had some odd items I hadn't seen at previous auctions -- a foosball table, a selection of distinctive/weird light fixtures and a set of 10 enormous, fancy light posts that you might see lining the streets of an exclusive gate community. I wanted them myself, but I thought it might be too much of a pretentious statement.

There was also a ton of stuff outside, underneath the snow. I stayed inside taking pictures while S and his dad were outside bidding on more floor joists to finish off our master closet/laundry room. Fortunately they were successful, so that project is one step closer. The joists were actually the only things we bought this time, which was probably good.

At the end of the day, we went home and thawed our frozen bones in preparation for the next auction, which is scheduled for March 6-7, 2010 at the same location. Peak Auctioneering travels around the country hosting these things year round, so if you don't live in Maryland check the 2010 schedule to find out if and when it stops near you.


  1. AnonymousMay 02, 2010

    If you like thing's made in China, you should attend.

  2. Anonymous -- If you are looking for unique decor items or small things like rugs, lamps, mirrors, etc., then I agree that you shouldn't waste your time with Peak Auctions. Most of the smaller things are not very exciting and are not good deals anyway.

    But if you're looking for actual building materials like windows, flooring, joists, etc. that's where the real value is. For example, we bought brand new energy efficient Marvin windows for $10 each -- a TINY fraction of retail cost for a very good product! Not exactly the equivalent of a "thing made in China." We have saved thousands upon thousands of dollars on high quality building materials at these auctions. We wouldn't be doing this project otherwise.

    Fair warning: Selection can vary greatly between auctions, as with anything. Sometimes you find lots of great stuff; other times you don't find anything.


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