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Cheap Building Supplies
When building a house, there are three main categories of costs that you’ll deal with: cost of materials, cost of permits, and cost of manpower. These costs can quickly add up and destroy your construction budget. Having ways to cut back on these costs will help to keep your budget under control. Planning on doing some DIY can help cut these costs back, but unless you’re a trained professional most of the money spent on person-hours won’t go away. Plus, chances are you won’t be able to convince your local city, state, or county to charge you less for your permits.
So how can you cut construction costs?
Find cheap building materials!
Check out this list of places to check out for cheap building supplies and cheap building materials for your home!
Craigslist is a great one-stop-shop for most communities. It spans the entire United States and each state has its own boards for the different regions and sub-regions. You can reduce the range of what’s available to your city or county, or expand it to be your region. Where we are in the PNW it’s a combination of large cities like Seattle, and counties as regions like Clark/Cowlitz. Our proximity to the Oregon border gives us access to North Oregon as well.
You want to focus your search for cheap building materials in the ‘for sale’ section to the following categories:
Free – this is stuff that’s usually just laying out on the curb. It’s mostly trash but when you find a treasure it’s definitely worth it. Just the other day I found three of the five toilets we need for our homestead and two of three pedestal sinks. Nearly $1000 in materials for free!
Farm + Garden – You can often find landscaping supplies here such as fencing, ground cover, and pathway stones. But you can also find construction materials such as brick and stone, outbuildings like greenhouses, and cost-effective options for after you’ve finished construction including livestock and plants.
Materials – Here, under the materials category, you can find everything from wood to stone to brick to drywall. You’ll learn about surplus stores that are tucked away in small corners and have no website or other online presence. You’ll discover tradespeople such as tile layers who have boxes of leftover tile or other materials after a job.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores are a combination of construction supply surplus and thrift store. Many of the materials are salvaged from buildings that are being torn down or donated by construction groups, including Habitat itself, from construction jobs that have been completed. There are also estate sale finds such as furniture and even china and artwork.
Husbando and I love going to the ReStore down south. We’ve found a $700 canopy bed for $75, a beautiful china hutch that we got for $20, and nearly purchased our front door there before a friend of Husbando’s gifted him with a handmade one. Many Habitat ReStores use a similar ‘deals’ system as Goodwill. Colored tags are used to price items and the different colors have a percentage discount attached. The colors and the discount change regularly. When we go, we only look for tag colors that are 50% off or higher.
If you’re into antiques then architectural salvage yards are going to be absolute heaven for you (they certainly are for me). Rather than buy newly made recreations of old architectural elements, you can actually find them at salvage places! Everything from antique, turn-of-the-century doors with sidelights to wood paneling and mantelpieces. While the prices on these aren’t as cheap as at a ReStore or on Craigslist, the quality is incredible and the chance to incorporate them into your home shouldn’t be passed up – at least, if you’re into antiques.
For myself, I know that the opportunity to add that air of old and antique is one I rarely pass up. I’d much rather have an authentic piece of wood paneling with all the gouges and imperfections of time and age than something freshly made last week.
Going to a local construction site and asking to buy any of their leftover materials is also an option, though I’ll be honest it’s not one I’ll likely ever try. However, if you’re brave enough to do it and comfortable enough talking with people you don’t know like that then go for it! I’ll be forever jealous!