A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of talking to Matt Knox, one of the founders of an ingenious Web-based business called DiggersList.com, which launched in 2008. Essentially, the Web site functions as an online source of home improvement classifieds in 30 cities. Now there’s one for New York, and the site will be rolling out in 224 more cities across the country over the next 12-15 months. When I told Matt about my plans for refinishing or replacing my floor and updating my kitchen, he said that a visit to DiggersList.com could help me find a contractor and possibly some materials, such as salvaged or leftover flooring, which I might be able to get at a good price.

“There’s so much construction waste out there,” Matt told me. “Almost all projects wind up with extra materials. But DiggersList offers a way to keep them from going to the landfill.” The site also has a relationship with Habitat for Humanity, allowing you to donate materials, furniture, fixtures and appliances and take a tax deduction if you’d prefer to give them away rather than sell them.

For my purposes, Matt said there were two ways of finding the contractors, flooring experts, cabinetmakers, or materials that I need. “First you could search the listings and look at the profiles of builders or suppliers and email the ones that interest you,” he said. “Or you could build your own profile with a photo album, explain what your trying to do and invite people to respond with their bids and thoughts.” Matt said when he has a project he takes both approaches because he’s impatient. The best part about all of this is that it’s free for the users.

When I asked Matt how his site differed from Angie’s List, another source for home improvement service providers, he said that DiggersList does not rely on referrals for the companies on its site and it does include materials and products, which Angie’s List doesn’t offer. If I find a contractor or floor refinisher or installer through DiggersList, Matt suggested I ask them for references or request the opportunity to stop by a site they’re working on. He also suggested checking with New York state’s contractors licensing board to see if any complaints have been filed on them. I’m going to follow through on both of Matt’s suggestions and will keep you posted on what happens.

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