Undoubtedly, the cost of construction supplies have risen where you live just like they have here. So much so that new construction has become a distant pipedream for most. Our amazing tips on how to save money on construction supplies are for the DIY person.
If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, dig your heels in and get your hands a little dirty, you can build that dream project even if you’re on a tight budget.
Ways to Save Money When Buying Construction Supplies
We’ve been building contractors for over twenty years (you can read about our off grid build here) and have used all of my tips below. Honestly, it’s pretty much all we’ve used with the exception here or there. Cheap or Free doesn’t come easy. You may have to dig, drive, search, and often wait for the perfect find but it is doable.
For example, say you need ten windows but can only find one here or there, it can take you a year to locate all the windows you need for your build when following my tips. That’s why planning ahead, along with patience, is essential when wanting to save money on construction supplies.
When we moved to Tennessee, we brought all our windows we’ve been saving over the years and used them in our new build. End result? Most all of our windows were free (or at a GREAT discount) and they look amazing. This money-saving tip alone saved us over $3,000.00
Bone Yard Construction Supplies
Every home improvement store or lumber yard has a bone yard or a scrap pile. This is wood or construction supplies that have some damage of some sort. Once, we bought 16 ft. decking boards for $.50 each from the bone yard! The ends were split and the wood was a little weathered. We only needed 14 ft. so we cut the ends off, built our deck and stained the boards.
In addition to the decking boards, we bought new windows for $25.00 each as they were installed on a new build and the owner didn’t like them.
Oops paint is another valuable way to save money on construction supplies. You can pay $5.00 for a $50.00 gallon of paint in the oops section because someone didn’t like the color or it was mixed wrong. Most stores that sell paint have these oops paints available.
Inquire with your local lumber yard for such finds. Ask them if they have a bone yard, a ding and dent section, or a return pile you can look through for great deals.
Construction Supplies by Another Name
The funny thing about marketing is you can have the same product, slap a different name on it and charge double. Construction supplies are no different.
Some good examples of this are wood pellets. If you buy wood pellets for a rocket mass heater you’re going to pay $10.00 + a bag. Now walk over to the equine section of a feed store and you’ll find those same pellets marketed as horse bedding for $4.00 a bag.
Another example is the metal totes you see in a lot of rustic décor. People use them for sinks, to hold towels and such. If you buy them at the feed store you’ll pay a higher price than if you buy them at a big box home improvement store.
Thirdly, horseshoe décor. They are all the fad now, people use them for towel hangers, trivets, and more. If you buy them online as décor you will pay a lot more than if you went to a local feed store and bought real horseshoes.
Unfortunately construction crews waste a lot of material when building. You can use this to your advantage when you’re the one building your project. Any time you see a construction site, stop by and talk with the general contractor and get permission to go dumpster diving. The contractors have to pay to haul their construction debris off and are often welcoming to anyone who wants to take a load off their hands.
In the past we’ve been able to get free doors, wiring, insulation, boxes of caulk, nails, wood scraps, light fixtures and so much more. You would be shocked what gets thrown away at a construction site.
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When saving on building materials that you will get for free, this is often the most labor intensive of all the ways to save. Particularly because those offering the free items just want them hauled away. Which means they are either still fully assembled, in a pile, hard to get to, or otherwise obstructed or large.
Just in the past few days I’ve seen a storage building offered for free with usable windows, pickets, and siding. Another free offer I spotted was a used wood basketball floor which was connected to 3/4 inch plywood! Never underestimate the value of free construction supplies.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s that I discovered there was a thing as wholesale building material stores. Now that are my saving grace.
Typically, a wholesale building supply will offer bits and pieces of random materials. We are fortunate to have one within driving distance that offers lumber and windows as well as most other construction materials we regularly need.
A prime example on savings for us recently was plywood and house wrap. Plywood is something we can’t mill ourselves and the big box stores were charging $36.00 a sheet at the time (now it’s almost $100 a sheet!). The wholesale store sold them for $17.00 a sheet. We saved almost $10.00 per sheet of plywood.
The house wrap at the big box store runs $125.00 for a roll, we paid less than $60.00 at the wholesale store. Huge savings on construction supplies.
Lumber prices reached a stratospheric high in May 2021, more than we have ever witnessed in our lives. As a result, people started taking manners in their own hands and are buying lumbermills. Lumbermills are a one time purchase with little investment thereafter (blades, oil, gas) and as long as you have access to wood you can mill any lumber you need.
We used all milled lumber for our build and bought a small sawmill from Hud-Son Sawyer called the Freedom Sawmill. It is perfect for our needs as it cuts logs 16 ft. long and 20 inches wide. You can learn more about our off grid home we built here.
Even if you don’t have a lot of timber on your own land, there are always people offering free felled trees online that you can mill.
Just the other day we were driving down our road and we saw a neighbor tying a large chain to an out building and connecting it to a tractor and pulling it down. We had a good look at the building and much of it was reusable. As we returned home we saw they were burning the building after the demo! What a waste of usable construction materials.
This is just one example of construction materials that can be recycled. Another one is by contacting a general contractor and asking them about any used doors or windows they may have from other jobs, including lighting. Often a contractor will keep the old items when they install a new ones, if they are in good shape.
Bricks, concrete blocks, and pavers are another free and recycled item I see available online and locally a lot. You can use these recycled finds to save you a lot of money in construction supplies.
We purchased our double French doors for our bedroom that were used. They had some nail holes and were scratched, but a little caulk and paint and they looked brand new. We saved over $700.00 by recycling used doors.
Have you gone to the lumber yard or building supply store lately? WOW! One would have to take out a second mortgage just to build a dog house! Don’t give up your new construction dreams because of the cost of building materials. We’ve been contractors for over 20 years and we know ways to save you money when building a house! You can read more in our latest article, Ways to Save Money When Building a House.
How to Keep Your Sanity During Construction
Let’s face it, construction is stressful. Even if it’s a small project it can cause stress. As a contractor, I can honestly say our house has been under construction in one form or another for over twenty years. Do ya feel my pain? During these years, we’ve accumulated some tips to help save our sanity, and our marriage during renovations and construction.