Learn about the different options you have for buying materials and finding the best deals for your rehab projects.
Big Box Stores (Home Depot & Lowes)
The obvious two choices to buy materials for your rehab project are Home Depot & Lowes. These two 'big-box' Home Improvement stores can generally be found within a close proximity of your rehab project, and have a huge inventory of materials to choose from.
Pros of Buying Materials from Big Box Stores
- Generally, close proximity to job site
- Shop for materials online
- Large inventory - Materials and finishes are often in-stock and easy to find
- Bulk purchase and delivery options - Buy all of your materials in bulk and have them delivered.
- Bulk purchase discounts - If you buy in bulk, you can generally get a 8 to 12% discount from the 'Pro Desk'
- Material Warranties - Manufacturer warranties are provided for materials & appliances.
- Refunds - Generally you can refund your materials up to 90 days.
- Save time - By using the same vendors & materials on every project, you create a repeatable process that saves you time.
Cons of Buying Materials from Big Box Stores
- You are paying retail prices
Alternatives to the Big Box Stores
We've all been to the big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot to buy new building materials, tools & appliances. Although this is often the easiest, most convenient solution, you may be able to save substantially by finding alternative resources for purchasing materials, tools & appliances...
Here are a couple alternative resources to help save a significant amount on materials without sacrificing quality.
Online shopping is a great new resource for rehabbers & investors for buying building materials. Not only can you find great deals, but you can also make the purchases right from the comfort of your home and have the materials delivered directly to the project site.Amazon.com
is a great resource that can be used to buy fixtures and smaller items, such as door handles, cabinet knobs, plumbing fixtures, & even light fixtures. Amazon has a wider variety of design styles than the big box stores, so you can find trendy fixtures & design elements that will help your project stand out from your competition.
Also, consider Build.com
which both specialize in selling building materials, fixtures & appliances that you won't find in the big box stores.
Checkout your local outlet stores for appliances and building materials. Often times outlet stores will have lightly damage, refurbished or discontinued appliances or materials that you can save more than 50%.
Pros of Buying Materials from Outlet Stores
- Up to 50% Off Appliances & Materials
- Generally damage is not noticeable
Cons of Buying Materials from Outlet Stores
- Mixed-bag of inventory
- No warranties
I recently purchased a new stainless steel refrigerator from the Sears Outlet Store for 50% off retail due to a small dent on the side of the refrigerator!
Material Supply Houses & Material Wholesalers
Supply houses and material wholesalers allow you to cut-out the middle man mark-up that the larger big-box stores & contractors charge on your materials. Research your market and look for material supply houses for your big-expense items such as roofing materials, siding, windows, cabinetry, flooring & fixtures and register for a commercial account.
Pros of Buying Materials from Material Wholesalers
- Save on mark-up on bulk purchases
Cons of Buying Materials from material Wholesalers
- May require an account minimum
One of the best places to find discounts on materials is at local live auctions or local online auctions.
Perform a Google Search to find local auctioneers and auction sites in your area. Often times you can find auctions for building materials, tools & appliances at significant discounts!
Pros of Buying Materials from Auctions
- Find Potential Steals (up to 50% off retail prices)
Cons of Buying Materials from Auctions
- Generally charge a 10% Auction Fee (so look out for that)
- Time Consuming Surfing Auction Sites
- Bidding Wars
- Generally no refunds or warranties
STORY TIME: I recently bought around 600 sqft of high-end, 3/4" hardwood flooring for $1/sf at an auction. This material would have likely retailed for at least $5/sf+, so I essentially saved $2,400+ on the material!
I also purchased an entire 17 piece kitchen set for $2,000 with all the bells & whistles, such as raised wood door fronts, plywood construction, & soft close drawers. I bet I saved at least $3,000 on this kitchen set!
Classifieds (Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp)
is a very valuable online resource to find new or used building materials, appliances, furniture, etc. Some of the best items to find on Craigslist are tools and appliances.
You can often find brand new kitchen appliances at a 50% discount or more...although one should be wary of buying used appliances because they will likely not have a valid warranty and can be more susceptible to defects.
If you are a contractor or a 'do-it-yourselfer', Craigslist can also be a great resource for finding deals on lightly used tools & construction equipment.
If you can't find it on Craigslist, checkout a fairly new competitor called OfferUp.com
which has a 'Pinterest'-esque user interface so you can quickly see images of all the materials for sale on their site.
Pros of Buying Materials from Classifieds
- Potentially significant discounts
Cons of Buying Materials from Classifieds
- Uncertainty of dealing with Craigslist people (are they the Craigslist killer?) :)
- Time Consuming Hunting for Deals on Craigslist
- Generally no refunds or warranties
Habitat for Humanity Restore
Habitat for Humanity Re-Store can be another great resource to buy building materials for significant discounts. Local builders, contractors, & suppliers donate new building materials, extra materials or de-constructed materials from their projects to the ReStore. The ReStore then resells the materials at a significant discount and all of the proceeds go to the Habitat for Humanity charity!...So not only are you getting cheap building materials, you are also helping a good cause!
Pros of Buying Materials from Habitat for humanity
- Significant discounts on materials
- All proceeds help the Habitat for Humanity Charitable Organization!
Cons of Buying Materials from Habitat for Humanity
- Inconsistent inventory - You never know what materials they are going to have in-stock unless you go the store.
In summary, big box stores are the easiest way to find building materials, tools & appliances for your projects, but this convenience usually comes with a premium. To really save on costs, consider some of these alternatives and maximize your profits.