What are some of the best ways to stay within or even under budget? I've learned a lot by trial and error but I'd still like to further educate myself on this matter. Any input would be greatly appreciated!
Do whatever labor you can properly and reasonably do yourself. Labor is usually 50% or more of any project in the house. If you budgeted $20k for a rehab, and you properly included labor in that estimate, in theory if you did all work yourself you'll probably come in at $8-10k. But you have to know what you can do in a timely manner, correctly, legally.
Outside of that - buy materials in bulk; ask for a discount for larger purchases; purchase items on closeout or clearance when possible; utilize common materials and sizes (8 foot ceilings, for example); be selective at where to spend and where to scrimp. If you're flipping a house,for example, no one is going to give you an extra grand for that pricey light fixture, but they may give you a couple extra grand for good quality granite counters.
Have you found it easier to buy materials from one main distributor (Home Depot, Menards, Lowes etc.) or is the time it takes to shop around and find the best deals on every item worth it? I appreciate your input, it's very helpful!
it's pretty simple you have to know yor rehab costs and materials before setting the budget.
Lots of people twist the budget to make the property work for a flip and end up with zero profit.
Know your ARV and repair costs. Then you can control what you'll pay for the property
I usually use Home Depot for most of my project, but shop around for major materials such as appliances, granite etc. I've found recently that items like garbage disposals are good to buy through Amazon. Lower prices, no tax and often free shipping.
This is what we've done and it helps keep us on track. My husband and I walk the house, room by room, item by item. He yells out measurements and things that need repaired or replaced. We make a repair estimator sheet...how many door knobs need replaced, how many Sq feet of granite, paint, carpet, how many missing doors and the measurements, etc. Then I take all of that information and I prepare a spreadsheet. Columns include item, estimated cost per item (Google retail) and then actual amount paid per item cost. There is a separate sheet for labor costs. As items are purchased/paid I enter the actual costs. The spreadsheet keeps a running total at the bottom. Now with our spreadsheet of materials in Google Drive, our whole team has access and everyone scouts the materials needed without paying retail. For example, I know I need a 6x8 sliding glass door or a bunch of faucets. With all of our dimensions in the spreadsheet, everyone on the project managers team can scout the materials. We found a $1200 Andersen dual pane, custom order, sliding glass door for $140 on OfferUp. I found an entire kitchen including maple cabinets, Thermador HUGE fridge, double ovens, range top, trash compactor, sink, and granite slabs also on OfferUp for $1400. There is also a liquidation warehouse that purchase Home Depot returns and sells them for 50% off retail price. This was a great find because I got all of my faux blinds, toilets, light fixtures, faucets for 50% off retail. These tricks have cut my cost of materials in half. The labor is the most extensive costs and while there's some stuff we can do on our own, there's also a lot that we cannot. To save time and get the job done right, it's better to find deals on materials and pay labor to get it done. Having the spreadsheet available for everyone on the team, we know how much we are alloted per item/repair. It become a challenge of who can score material under budget.