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Build Your Own Home, Issue #020, Building Materials too Build Your Own Home
June 01, 2006

I would like to take a little time this month to talk about building materials and building your own home. Building materials vary from one section of the country to another and from one type house to another, but there are things that you need to be aware of that they all have in common.

Here is my short list of Building Materials Dos and Don’ts:

Always get at least three bids for all your building materials.

I know I harp on this subject a lot but it is important to keep from paying too much or getting inferior materials for your home.

When we built our home the majority of our materials only came from a handful of suppliers. The framing lumber, Hardie board, interior doors and some of the finishing lumber came from a local lumber supplier. We got bids from two other big lumber suppliers too. I tried to get Home Depot to bid on my lumber at a discount but they could not figure out to whom to send me to. At that time it was obvious that they were not geared up to sell to the owner builder. Maybe that has changed, or is different in your area.

Don’t just accept the first bid the supplier gives you.

When my first lumber bid came in from my three suppliers I sat down and compared them item for item. I found the first major supplier’s bid to be too high. It came in $7,000 above the rest. I called my rep up and set up an appointment to discuss what could be done about it. They came down below the others and beat them by 10%. They got my business and I saved money!

Just because your lumber supplier sells an item it doesn’t mean they are cheaper.

I gave my plans to all the suppliers and let them bid on the whole house. Anything they supplied they gave me line item bid. Remember the words “line item bid”.

Just because they were cheaper on one thing doesn’t mean they will be cheaper on another.

For instance the major lumber supplier I used supplied interior doors I liked and great looking exterior doors but they were more expensive on the exterior doors. They also supplied specialty lumber like trim and hardwoods for my cabinets. But guess what? I found another supplier that was 30% less. Getting the bid broken down by “line item” gave me the power to figure out what I was really paying for. That’s how you compare apples to apples. And don’t forget my golden rule: “What is not well defined is easily manipulated”.

The key to this is taking the time up front to research the suppliers that are cheapest and that sell what your want.

Don’t get hung up on Name Brands!

I know that this is easier said than done with all the advertising dollars that companies are spending to get you to buy. Let’s look at windows for instance. We all have heard of Pella windows. They are high quality and they have spent millions letting us know about it. Who is paying for the ads? You guessed it, you the consumer. Now I don’t have a bone to pick with Pella… they are just an example. We got bids for our windows from several manufacturers. We went with a local window manufacturer because they had a great product and they were being used by many of the builders in the area on high-end houses. I found out about them by touring houses in the area and made note of the windows the prominent builders use in this area. We got great double paned, tinted windows because we used a local manufacturer versus a “name brand”. Many of our windows were also custom designed for our house and they made them for us at the local factory, which we toured before we gave them our business.

Slow Down Don’t Rush!

If you are going to get a good deal on your building materials you need to slow down and take your time. Compare your bids side by side. This takes a lot of time and is boring, but it is a necessary step in getting a good deal.

Go to the Suppliers that the Major Builders Use.

The suppliers the builder’s use have high volume and will be able to give you a better deal. I found many of the suppliers by going to the building sites and observing who was supplying what. I took a camera and took pictures of the doors, windows and other materials that were being used in my area and made note of who was supplying them. Bringing a set of plans in gets these suppliers’ attention.

You need to spend some time where the new houses are being built to notice who is delivering what. Many of them deliver early in the morning and have their logo proudly displayed on their trucks. You will know what is supplied by what is on the back of the truck.

Give them a call and make an appointment to get a bid for your materials. Your money is just as green as the builders… so don’t get intimidated!

Building Materials Summary.

We are all accustomed to haggling and comparison-shopping for almost everything that is a large ticket item. For some reason most of us just don’t really think about doing so when it comes to the single most important investment that we will ever make: our home.

For example, when we go to buy a new house from a builder and want an upgrade on the front door and they charge us $1500 for a door that costs them $500 we know deep down that it is way too much but we really want the house with that door.

But now, as a result of your studying you really have the knowledge and the ability to get the house that you want…. the way you want it…. for what it should really cost minus the builder’s profit.

A mind stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions.

As you study my site, you can never look at buying a new home, or having one built for you in the same way…. ever again. You have been stretched to believe that you can have it your way! What a novel idea…. one whose time has come!!

You Can Build Your Own Home
Get What YOU Want
AND Save Money Doing It!

Happy Home Building,

George, from Build Your Own Home.
If you want information about Construction Loans or Home Loans go to our Home Loan & Construction Loan Page.
If you want more information about building your own home go to our Building Knowledge Center.
If you want information on hiring qualified contractor go to our Building Contractor Page.
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