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Building a house, workshop, outbuilding, playhouse, or even a chicken coop? No matter what you’re building it doesn’t have to break the bank. Check out these seven ways you may not have considered to save money on building supplies.
The one thing I know is that the readers of this blog are always FULL of great ideas and we are all blessed when you share them!
The original post 9 Ways To Get Building Materials Cheap or Free spawned a ton of great comments from readers on the blog and on Facebook. Some of them were things I wish we would have considered in earnest when we were in the thick of building our cordwood house from scratch.
If you haven’t read the original, go do that after you read this post! You’re going to be saving so much money!
I gathered up the best ideas that readers shared with us to put all in one place.
7 More Great Ways to Save Money on Building Supplies
1. Don’t count out the expensive luxury stores.
From a reader named Samantha: “There’s a few shops in my town that have the most insane clearance prices on tiles that come out cheaper that the sale price at the big box store or the restore. The quality is much higher and for a lot less money than the cheap stuff. I’ve done really well at auctions and often have taken a risk in a great deal which when I didn’t use it I sold it on Craigslist for a decent profit that covered my other purchases.”
I wish I had thought of this, especially for the tile we used behind our wood stove. We got ours at a reuse store and, while we don’t dislike it, we aren’t in love with it either. Not to mention we only saved a little bit over buying it new at a big box store.
Related: The building report where we actually tiled the wall with our discount tile
We’re lucky enough to live close to a metro area with lots of high-end specialty stores for items like this and I wish I would have thought to consider them! I’ll have to keep it in mind as we complete the trim work.
2. Check for discards and extras at construction sites.
Reader Dan Abbott writes: “Also Check local construction sites as they have to be very particular of say 8ft 2x4s or any wood….if it has a bow or twist they cannot use….or if there’s extras they will often give to you I’ve gotten windows, lumber, plywood, lots just if you see new home going up stop and talk to the foreman.”
New homes going up around here are a dime a dozen it seems. There have even been large projects like stores and nursing homes going in just down the road from us and I’m sure we could have asked there.
Look at the new developments in your area and don’t be afraid to talk to the foreman or general contractor.
Related – Learn more about keeping your project within your budget here:
Financing Your Homestead (even if you’re flat broke)
6 Reasons You Might Blow Your Construction Budget (and how to avoid it)
10 Ways to Save THOUSANDS of Dollars Building Your Own Home
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for product discounts.
This one is so simple I can’t believe I didn’t mention it the first time around.
The Farmer’s Wife over at Farmhouse From Scratch is a treasure trove of great information for owner builders (seriously, if you’re building a house go check out her work right now). She left a comment saying:
“One thing I would add is for people to not be afraid to make offers or ask for discounts. Even in the big box stores I have made offers on clearance items and they just want them gone so they almost always say yes. Same with craigslist- especially if the ad has been up for awhile, people just want it gone so they are willing to accept much lower prices. I hope that’s helpful!”
I’m such an introvert that the idea of asking someone for a discount makes me break out in a sweat. But if there’s a prospect of saving money on building supplies I can get over myself for a second and ask if they can do a discount. The worst they’ll say is no.
To that end, don’t forget this next one…
4. Ask for discounts if you pay with CASH.
If you’re prepared to pay cash instead of credit (or even debit) for an item or service you can usually score a cash discount if you ask for it.
For example, we once had to replace our sewer main at our old house in the suburbs. We asked for a cash discount and got about 10% off their total price, which was roughly $200 off! Imagine what you can save on a bulk lumber order for building your home if your material price is in the thousands of dollars.
5. Check unexpected places for pallets and materials.
If you keep an eye out, you can usually find discarded shipping materials like pallets, metal stakes/cages/frames, and more. Not only will you find them at places like tractor supply shops and hardware stores, but also places like furniture and sporting good stores too!
Patti over on our Facebook page says to check: “Your local tractor dealership! We have gotten a bazzilion pallets, we’re currently building a chicken coop out of 2 shipping boxes. Bolts, nuts, they ship with all kinds of metal framework that we can use for animal shelters and even a carport! We also found metal square tubing that we can use for corner posts in the pasture. Wood is free. Metal ranges from $5 to $25 for the massive frames (so big that it takes 2 men to carry). Score! It’s worth a try.”
Read next: How to get the best recycled and reclaimed materials
6. Get reduced prices on misorders directly from the manufacturer!
I’ve seen people do this for anything from windows and doors to trusses and roofing. Depending on how flexible you can be in your design you can save a fortune buying materials this way.
From Theresa over on Facebook: “Our local window factory does Relay for Life auctions where they auction off window returns or messed up orders. We got all the windows for our house when we built it for 900 from the auction, plus two full price windows that were custom sized. But we got 9 $400 windows for 90 each plus a 7′ x 6′ 3 part window for 100. All new, just ordered and never purchased!”
7. Ask for reduced rates and free delivery on large orders.
When we bought all of our tongue and groove pine for the walls and ceilings (the update with that is here) we managed to snag two deals: the first for making such a large order (it was about 3400 square feet) and the second for free delivery. And to get free delivery, all we had to do was ASK for it. Nicely, of course. And with an order that large they didn’t mind a bit.
They actually asked if we were a commercial job since most people only order a fraction of that. You can see more of how it turned out in this update or on the photo gallery page.
So there you have it! Seven MORE ways you can save BIG money on building materials!
Don’t think this list and the original list are ONLY for home builders. If you’re building a shed, outbuilding, chicken coop, playhouse, or anything else for that matter, YOU can use these tips to save big.
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Great article! Not only do most of us need to make our money stretch as far as possible, but I believe it is our responsibility! Thanks for helping!
Thanks! I agree 100%!
Keep sharing with us.
I was able to buy a french door stainless steel refrigerator from lowes for $350. They said it was used( it still smelled new) it was marked down to $1500 .
If they ask what you will pay offer less that you have, so you can offer more if they say no.
We even got a new queen mattress FREE years ago still using it works great!
Wow that’s a huge savings! Thanks for sharing!!
Elsa Anderson says
I do like how you mentioned that when purchasing building supplies it’s possible to ask for a discount as they are open to the idea if proposed properly. That is great to have learned as I am currently looking for some suppliers for my upcoming home construction project. Being able to find such places should allow me to place more budget on our construction and its furnishings. Thanks!
Kairi Gainsborough says
It is smart to ask if you can get reduced rates on large orders. I think that is a fair thing to ask if you are buying a ton of construction supplies from the same supplier. Plus, it never hurts to ask, so you might as well give it a shot.
Great couple of posts! I’m rebuilding my ’84 ram van to live in and finding cheap supplies is my favourite thing on earth :’D also considering looking for waste around construction/industrial sites as well as asking flooring companies for remnants!
Good on you guys for sharing the simple life 🙂
Dino Violante says
It really was nice when you said that since the worst thing that construction supply stores can tell me is “no,” I really should not hesitate asking for a discount. I will be sure to do this since my brother and I will be having a warehouse built soon, and we will need the materials. Though he did mention something like a backup wrench. Hopefully, I can find one for a discounted price since he wants a lot of those.
Taylor Anderson says
One of my friends wants to be independent and live off the land. Part of the dream consists of wanting to learning more about building and the materials. I like how you mentioned that just politely asking for reduced rates on large orders actually works. These tips could really help my friend out when he starts building things.
Lisa Diosdado says
This was so helpful I am building a tiny house on wheels and have very little money to do so. Now I feel like there is hope for me to build this . Thank you so much
Oh cool! There is certainly hope even when money is stretched ultra thin. Glad to help. Best of luck with your tiny home build!