Contractor says I can't buy my own materials

6 Replies

Good morning,

I have a pretty reputable contractor that I have a bid with on a project and I asked him if I can buy my own materials which would save me on the mark-up. He informed me that he can't because he's not supposed to for insurance purposes. If there are any workmanship or issues his insurance wouldn't back him on coverage. I've never heard of this, can anyone corroborate this?


@Gregory Calloway Yes all the time. It's like walking into a car dealership and asking to install parts you brought in with you. Contractors don't make a living off marking up material prices. They make a living by doing quality work, completing projects on time, and sometimes surpassing expectation. If you work with the guy a few times maybe he will change is mind. 

@Gregory Calloway Pretty normal and honestly he's probably getting better prices than you could get. If you just don't want to pay him upfront, ask if he can put in the order and you can pay for it. He'll probably balk at that too though. Its how he does business. If its a sticking point then find a different contractor

You are not going to save any money by supplying the materials . The contractor will make the same either way . Probably more . 

I guess when you go to a restaurant , you bring your own steak and ask them to cook it ?  Some restaurants will let you bring a bottle of wine , but charge you a corkage fee. 

When I run into a customer that wants to supply materials , my estimate is over then and there . Learned my lesson on that in the early 1980's . 

Contractors are running a business , we mark up materials , we mark up labor , we mark up our subs . Thats how we make a profit . 

If you supply the materials , and you order the wrong stuff , or dont order enough , and the contractor is there with 5 guys and cant work due to your mistake . You are still responsible to pay for the day for 5 men . If you buy the expensive kitchen cabinets , and the contractor accidently drops a $900 section . Does he pay ? Now if he supplied them he has some mark up to cover that , if not he takes a hit . 

@Gregory Calloway

I don’t agree that he’s not supposed to let you buy because of insurance purposes, but I do agree that there are insurance implications. If there were an issue down the road, one of the first things his insurance company will look at is the contract. If your contractor didn’t supply the materials under his contract, then they aren’t covered under his insurance policy.

There are also potential warranty issues. If something breaks, then there will be the argument about who has to replace it if you bought it and he installed it. Generally not worth the headache in my experience.

Also if you supply the materials then you take the liability of getting them delivered on time. In today’s covid world, materials get delayed all the time because of manufacturing issues. So there is risk beyond just buying the stuff.

@Gregory Calloway

Pay the contractor

Once you try to save the few extra dollars by buying material , you’ll eventually pay more than initially quoted because of acting as the GC of the job site . As the saying goes leave it to the professional..

Be a great CUSTOMER to the contractor , but of course do your homework on the contractor!

Good luck