Buying materials for rental rehab?

21 Replies

Hey everyone,

I’m closing on a deal at the end of this month, this will be my first time going through a rehab for a property and hiring out the work. I’m hiring a handyman because most of the work is things like painting/ installing new fans and fixtures, and replacing kitchen cabinets.

For anyone with experience working with someone for the first time on a smaller job like this, do you prefer to pick up all the materials yourself and drop them off at the house, or give the person you’re hiring a list from Home Depot or Lowe’s and have them do all of the running around and purchasing? Pros and cons to either method?


Thanks for your help!

I choose the items on the Home Depot or Lowe’s app and pay for them for in store pick up 

I call and tell them the name of the person picking up the order 

I text a pic of the order and order number to the handy man

As a contractor, I recommend materials to my clients but I prefer to pick them up myself since there are usually other rough in materials that are not accounted for or tend to be forgotten about and having to make a trip out to the store when your customer was just there is frustrating for both.  I assist my property managers and homeowners on what the best material is for their money or by giving an option 1 and option 2 since the money they have to spend is a key factor in this business.  From a contractor's standpoint, the pro is making sure you have everything, the con is spending the time to do so and the unknown specs from the material selected.  I usually include labor and material in my estimate and account for everything, unless the customer decides they want to select the material.  In that case, I request to review prior to purchase to check specs, measurements and dimensions (depending on materials of course) only because I have been in situations where the homeowner selected materials and it became a disaster because they did not measure anything.  Any light fixtures or ceiling fans being replaced should have wiring checked prior, minor plumbing needs to be measured for proper fitting, there are factors that we as contractors consider, where others may not.  

Congrats on your first rehab and reach out if you have any questions!

With a  pro card, you can send Lowes an order online and they'll pull it for you and deliver it for $20

@Joseph Milano , I prefer my contractor do it, as I don't have the time, nor desire to go shopping over and over.  I typically want bids with all materials other than finishes, and like Helen mentioned, I provide specs of those finish items.  

Also to be cognizant of, do you have a project bid or per hour bid?  If it is per hour, you are going to be paying that handyman whether he is at the store or at your project.  If you have a project bid, even just for labor, I would make sure that includes supply pickups.  

Therefore, it really comes down to your time and budget.  If you have more time than money, get a list from your contractor and go pick it up for them each day.  If you have more money than time, have them do it, knowing you are paying for their time to be at the store too.

As a former handyman contractor, and now as an investor and agent, I have always picked up materials.  I can attest that it is a tremendous time suck, I can't believe how much time is spent running to Lowes, then "oh Lowes doesn't have it I gotta go here".  So from my end, if someone picked up material I'd love to save that time.

That said, on the contractor end, if someone picked up the materials and they got the wrong thing, wrong amount, short of an extra 2x4 or whatever, it's super annoying to stop what you're doing and go back to the store. Or, what if I ask them to get some 2x4 lumber and the stuff they get is twisted and nasty? The contractor also misses out on any markups they might get.  

Maybe some things you can pick out and pick up that you care about more, like paint colors or light fixtures?  Like @Evan Polaski said, if you have more time than money, you may wanna do it.  But if it makes sense to stay doing the thing you make more money at while you pay someone less money to drive around and get it (particularly with expensive gas) then go that route.  Hopefully this helps!

Thanks for all of the replies everyone I appreciate the feedback! I am still waiting to get back into the house so I can get a quote, but having the option to order everything on my own and have the contractor pick it up seems like the best route for this time since I already have all the measurements needed for the kitchen and other fixtures.

Originally posted by @Helen Stanley :

As a contractor, I recommend materials to my clients but I prefer to pick them up myself since there are usually other rough in materials that are not accounted for or tend to be forgotten about and having to make a trip out to the store when your customer was just there is frustrating for both.  I assist my property managers and homeowners on what the best material is for their money or by giving an option 1 and option 2 since the money they have to spend is a key factor in this business.  From a contractor's standpoint, the pro is making sure you have everything, the con is spending the time to do so and the unknown specs from the material selected.  I usually include labor and material in my estimate and account for everything, unless the customer decides they want to select the material.  In that case, I request to review prior to purchase to check specs, measurements and dimensions (depending on materials of course) only because I have been in situations where the homeowner selected materials and it became a disaster because they did not measure anything.  Any light fixtures or ceiling fans being replaced should have wiring checked prior, minor plumbing needs to be measured for proper fitting, there are factors that we as contractors consider, where others may not.  

Congrats on your first rehab and reach out if you have any questions!

Hey Helen,

Thank you I appreciate that, having that viewpoint from a contractor is very helpful.

If the customer decides to order the material instead of having that included into the estimate, do you make sure they also purchase the necessary rough instructions material? 

@Evan Polaski I haven’t received the bid yet but I will be sure to find out if supply pick up is included. I don’t mind paying for someone’s time to pick up materials as long as it’s reasonable. If supplies will be needed on a daily basis I definitely don’t have the time for that so thanks for the advice.

@Aaron Schrader Do you still do your own work on your current property’s then? I am curious as to why you don’t have someone else pick up materials if it is so time consuming. One of the reasons I wanted to pick out everything is because I know exactly what I wanted and figured it be easier if I just picked it up, but it sounds like the the cost for having the contractor pickup and purchase materials justifies the time and hassle I would save going to and from the store all the time. Thanks again.

Originally posted by @Joseph Milano :

Hey everyone,

I’m closing on a deal at the end of this month, this will be my first time going through a rehab for a property and hiring out the work. I’m hiring a handyman because most of the work is things like painting/ installing new fans and fixtures, and replacing kitchen cabinets.

For anyone with experience working with someone for the first time on a smaller job like this, do you prefer to pick up all the materials yourself and drop them off at the house, or give the person you’re hiring a list from Home Depot or Lowe’s and have them do all of the running around and purchasing? Pros and cons to either method?


Thanks for your help!

I buy the finished product items like kitchen cabinets, fans, fixtures, etc. and drop them off  and give contractor HD gift card for all of the rough materials. 

I agree just have your Contr/Handyman pick up everything. Just realize that you have to pay them to do this. Hourly labor plus wear and tear on their truck. I would just open an account at HD or Lowes and make them a signer. Then they can go to the Pro Desk for pickup..

@Joseph Milano yes I still do a lot of my own work.  I think that's why I hate going to the store, because I go there then I go do the work.  You should try it both ways if possible, see what works better for you.  At some point I won't do as much of my own work, and therefore probably won't pick out my own materials, unless it's some kind of specialty install of a light or something like that.

Originally posted by Joseph Milano:
Originally posted by @Helen Stanley :

As a contractor, I recommend materials to my clients but I prefer to pick them up myself since there are usually other rough in materials that are not accounted for or tend to be forgotten about and having to make a trip out to the store when your customer was just there is frustrating for both.  I assist my property managers and homeowners on what the best material is for their money or by giving an option 1 and option 2 since the money they have to spend is a key factor in this business.  From a contractor's standpoint, the pro is making sure you have everything, the con is spending the time to do so and the unknown specs from the material selected.  I usually include labor and material in my estimate and account for everything, unless the customer decides they want to select the material.  In that case, I request to review prior to purchase to check specs, measurements and dimensions (depending on materials of course) only because I have been in situations where the homeowner selected materials and it became a disaster because they did not measure anything.  Any light fixtures or ceiling fans being replaced should have wiring checked prior, minor plumbing needs to be measured for proper fitting, there are factors that we as contractors consider, where others may not.  

Congrats on your first rehab and reach out if you have any questions!

Hey Helen,

Thank you I appreciate that, having that viewpoint from a contractor is very helpful.

If the customer decides to order the material instead of having that included into the estimate, do you make sure they also purchase the necessary rough instructions material? 

@Joseph Milano No, I supply rough in material. 

If the investor has the truck and time and knowledge of all products and materials.

Great!

I have never met an investor that would do that.

I prefer to pick up items, let the investor know when it’s happening like twice. One day in advance then 20 minutes before checkout.

“ Hey John I will be picking up roughly $200 of materials to put in the new wall we discussed, I will be getting that about 900 am tomorrow.

I will text you again in morning about 20 minutes before purchase, is that 👍 okay ✅?“

Phone sale, with purchase emailed to investor.

That way I can pick the product and materials I am familiar with.

Picking wood that is perfect or maybe seconds that are 70% off. ( investor loves me when this happens).

Seconds for backing and support works!

Must communicate product decisions @ lights, cabinets, tile, windows, etc.

Communication is Key!

Text progress pictures ( 3-5 ) daily.

Deadlines and find out what your contractor likes.

( black coffee with a danish)

That’s your invite/ excuse to see progress and concerns.

These secrets work both ways.

A $25 gift certificate wouldn’t hurt neither and pay your contractor on time without delay.

If you delay this he will go to another job and then good luck getting him back to the schedule and work.

Love flipping a house/ 4 Plex🥁

Joseph,

There are some great contractors, but most can be flaky. Unless you have had prior experience with the contractor and trust them, always buy the materials yourself. You can mitigate your potential losses with a general contractor greatly if you do labor only. I have flipped 16 houses in the last 3 years and I highly recommend this model.

For example, kitchen remodel is lets say $25k. Materials 10K and Labor is 15k.

Contractor buying materials - Contractor asks for half upfront and potentially walks away with $12.5k

You buying materials (Labor only) - you pay half upfront of $7.5k and contractor quits on you, you lose out on $7.5k

When you purchase the materials and the contractor walks away with it, it now becomes a criminal issue and not just a civil case, because you paid and own the materials. This might sound extreme, but many new investors get burned by contractors.

Make a Home Depot Pro Xtra account and have the contractor checkout using your phone number. In real time, when the contractor is at the register, you get a live link to the receipt of the items they are purchasing, you can either confirm or deny.

Best of Luck,

Kristina Kuba

Keller Williams Tampa Central

Originally posted by @Kristina Kuba :

Joseph,

There are some great contractors, but most can be flaky.

I think that's a poor generalization. Most? That would be like saying 'most' realtors are flaky or dishonest....... 

Oh wait, people do that all the time...... :-)

Originally posted by @Bruce Woodruff :
Originally posted by @Kristina Kuba:

Joseph,

There are some great contractors, but most can be flaky.

I think that's a poor generalization. Most? That would be like saying 'most' realtors are flaky or dishonest....... 

Oh wait, people do that all the time...... :-)

Bruce, I’m solely basing it on my experience in Tampa where have experienced a boom and lots of out of the area contractors have showed up. If you google it, unlicensed contractors or contractors working out of scope in pinellas county has become so bad that they have implemented multiple sting operations in the recent year.

Originally posted by @Kristina Kuba :

Bruce, I’m solely basing it on my experience in Tampa where have experienced a boom and lots of out of the area contractors have showed up. If you google it, unlicensed contractors or contractors working out of scope in pinellas county has become so bad that they have implemented multiple sting operations in the recent year.

 I gotcha, but you can't compare unlicensed or out-of-scope contractors to the real licensed guys. That would be like comparing realtors to people selling houses without a license. My point is that if you find a good GC, that is all you need. He should be taking care of everything for you, handling materials/subs/architects and everything else for his 20-25% markup. Sounds like just as in my county here in AZ, any contractor, let alone a good one, is hard to find. The only cure for that is to wait until either the market slows down, or more Contractors come into play somehow....

@Joseph Milano

I used to do labor only bids. Although it made pricing jobs easier, it got really old waiting for a client to answer the phone or a text to confirm from home depot.

90% of the time i was waiting at least an extra 15 minutes to an hour as sitting around doing nothing. Even if i gave warning texts/calls.

So much more simpler on my end to buy materials myself now.

With all due respect, if you're paying them for basic handyman item jobs - are you skilled to complete those yourself?  If not, then you may struggle to realistically pick out the proper materials, consumables, and tools for those jobs. Maybe I misunderstand your comment and your first time hiring out the work, not doing a rehab.  

I think the real question is do you want to pay them for their time shopping? 

I highly recommend reading The Book On Flipping Houses and The Book On Rehab Cost by J Scott, you haven't already. 

He gives great advise on this topic and much more on handeling a handyman and materials.  

@Joseph Milano First good call on using a haandyman for this type thing, as long as you have some good references.  You will save a lot of money. As a GC and an investor I do this on a regular basis. I do recommend you oversee the cabinet installation of maybe even help.  That's not something you want to redo.  As for material, assuming you are doing the flip for yourself and not a client, I would order it from whomever you use be it Lowes, HD or even the local supply house.  Pay for it with your card and have the handyman pick it up.  If you feel the lights or fans need special attention then go to the store.  But I wouldn't leave the selection to the handyman.  But he can certainly pick it all up.  Or pay a couple of extra bucks and have it delivered to the job site.  Just be sure the handyman is there to receive it and confirm its all there.  Make it clear to him if its damaged or anything is missing he has to make it right.  That way he will pay more attention to what is coming off the truck.