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Get the Biggest Bang for Your Building Material Buck

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Jessica
09.25.12

It’s important to stay on top of home maintenance, and sometimes that means home improvement projects that call for a long list of materials. But did you know that those materials are probably going to take up half of your building costs? Since they’re so expensive, homeowners have to balance their budget with the safest and best materials for the project, and that can be a difficult task. I’ve spent over 25 years building custom homes, and I’ve seen more than few people agonizing over things like marble countertops or brick pavers.

Here are a few money-saving tricks I’ve learned in the home-improvement trenches to help you choose the right building materials for your project:

Do your research. It’s important to know what you’re paying for. Hop on a computer and research the products you’re interested in. Read reviews, and choose a manufacturer that’s maintained a good reputation for many years. There’s a reason they’re still in business!

Ask for recommendations. Experienced homebuilders will have strong relationships with suppliers they trust, so ask a local homebuilder for a list of their recommended suppliers.

Buy local. If you buy your supplies locally, not only will you be supporting a local business, but you’ll save a bundle on shipping!

Leave room in your budget. The work you’re about to do will likely cost you more than you expected, one way or another. If you don’t already have a contingency fund, learn how to start your own house fund.

Consider buying directly from a contractor. You may think that buying your own materials will save you money, but keep in mind that a contractor has formed strong relationships with suppliers over the years and can often command a better price. Bonus: When you buy through a contractor, you typically get a contractor’s warranty with it. If you buy a faucet yourself and then realize it’s defective, you’ll have to pay to replace it. However, if you buy it through a contractor, they’ll stand behind the product they install and won’t charge you anything to replace the faulty faucet.

Lastly, remember that some projects like installing a new roof are inevitable and necessary, but other projects aren’t worth the hassle! Do your research before you dive headfirst into a major home overhaul. Some home remodeling projects have a high return on investment, while others rarely earn back the money they cost. For example, kitchen remodeling projects frequently earn up to 85% of their value back, while a pool installation will rarely bring back 50% of the cost.

As always, feel free to email me at allen@brightnest.com with any specific homebuilding or home maintenance questions. I love to hear about your projects!


Allen, a custom homebuilder from Chicago, spent 25 years building his client's dream homes, but was frustrated that he couldn't provide them ongoing support to help keep their homes in good shape. That's why he started BrightNest. To learn more about the author of this post and co-founder of BrightNest, Allen Shulman, check out: Meet the Founder: Allen Shulman.

 
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