Big Box vs Craigslist or Habitat for Humanity

15 Replies

I am working a cost analysis for my current remodel and wanted to ask the users of BP where they are looking for rehab materials.

  • Lowes / Home Depot
  • Craigslist 
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Discount Stores (Home Emporium, Ect)

I initially budgets based off the big box companies and included a 10% buffer for repairs.   After sitting in bed last night browsing the local Craigslist ads I found some locals that were upgrading the standard builder grade toilets with nicer pieces.

I picked up an American Standard toilet for example @ $20 and even if it needs a flush kit it will still be less than the lowest grade they sell at my local Lowes.

If you are working on a flip, I wouldn't waste time searching craigslist or Habitat for Humanity stores.  You might find a good deal here or there but most of the items are garbage (esp on craigslist).  Focus on getting your projects done on time and you will save your costs there.

It all depends on your situation. 

For me a $20 toilet plus a $20 innards kit plus my time to mess with finding and installing it costs more than a Lowes toilet that gets delivered with me sending an email. And installed with a couple text messages. 

For my rehabs 5 years ago, I  did everything myself on a shoestring budget.  I found used cabinets on craigslist, countertop at habitat,  front door at a garage sale,  appliances from the next door neighbor, paid people with pizza and beer to paint. 

Back to your question, make sure to factor in your time to your cost analysis. 

I like going to habitat over Craigslist,  because it fits in my schedule better. If i have a few minutes to kill,  I head there and see if there's anything I need. I especially like getting my bath vanities there. 

At my local one there seems to be no shortage of solid oak vanities,  that look great painted black with a granite top. And it ends up being a high class look for a low price. 

I use Craigslist for most of my appliances. 

Most important aspect you left out, the value of the property!

Is it a 20K or 200K property?

I got a $500+ Kohler, low profile silent flush toilet at our HfH store, sometimes they get great stuff. Ask a plumber, they will usually say a crapper is a crapper, basically.

You can find all kinds of stuff on CL, but what is there isn't a reliable source for materials, you just luck out or get screwed.

Box stores fit the bill for most materials for most homes. In a 750K home we had a $8,000 tub faucet, you won't get that at a box store!

There isn't much analysis about it between these sources, the box store is the only reliable source along with other retail outlets, lumber yards, etc.

You don't devalue a nice property putting junk in it, what you use needs to be appropriate to value. :)

I'm all about stretching a buck, but have learned with pain and experience that most things that are cheaper on the front end are more hassle than they're worth.   Toilets buy new for sure.  Depending on the extent of your rehab, you can buy used windows, doors, vanities 1st and frame around them.  I love quality mis-tint interior paint and keep a good inventory of that as a LL.  Like @Bill Gulley    states, what is the price range/quality of this home?  Are you doing the work yourself? Are you stretched for time or is this your full-time gig?  Factor in holding costs of a longer project.  Factor in what season your house will hit the market one way vs another.  In my experience, contractors hate dealing with used this and piecemeal that.  They have usually have vendors they like that deliver and good ones will pass along some of their wholesale prices.  Now, if I could only find that quality contractor...

I'll check out our Habitat store (I can usually find good deals on lights there) but we use the big box stores (Lowes, Home Depot) for most of our items.  Why?  Time saving since we also have full time jobs.  My days of hauling appliances around town are long gone; both places deliver.

I do take advantage of their constant sales on appliances and use both 10 percent off coupons (purchased through ebay) AND gift cards purchased through online sources (often for 9 to 11 percent off the face value of the card) to help with the cost of such.


@Steve Vaughan the price point on the rehab is ARV of around 100-110k . I had a budget of $35k for renovations. The purchase price was $30,001 and feel I did alright. No home run but a solid start.

This isn't my full time job, just diversification of my assets. I will be contracting the work out.  My Dad owned a construction company and I'm very familiar with contractors and sub contracting part you aren't comfortable or wanting to do yourself.  

I think I will be rental ready by January 1st, but hoping for sooner. 

@Gail K.  the coupons at a discount are a great idea.

@Bill Gulley   Sorry the toilet was the first example that came to mind, albeit a bad one.  Im not digging for quarters in the sofa, I was just using that as an example.

@Matt Spicer  thanks for the clarification.  Knowing what you know and who you know about rehabs and construction will serve you well.  Great side-hobby and diversification for you!  I forgot about the light fixtures at H4H like @Gail K.  mentioned.  I also get a lot of old off-market plumbing supplies there for repairs and also window and door screens.

Habitat for Humanity is a great place for Tile, Grout, Mortar. Plus paint tools ( Rollers, Tape...). Their actual paint is crap though. I go to a local discount (Ding and Dents store for Toilets, Vanities and light fixtures then  Big box stores for everything else. I usually call all the home depo's in my area and ask if they have "oops" discounted paint.... they sell 5 gal of Behr for $30. But again, Time and convenience plays a big factor on my decisions.

Habitat for cheap doors, sinks/vanities, cabinets, and sometimes windows.

Lowes for drywall, wood, shingles, paint, 6 pack light fixtures, etc.

Lumber liquidator or Floor and Decor for flooring.

ABC Supply for matching siding.

Craiglist or Facebook for appliances and tenants.

In this case new might be cheaper then used Craigslist!

Big Box stores getting a 10% coupon on-line. No time to justify looking forever on CL. I could only see using CL if you wanted to build inventory for your next flip/fix but who has room for that.

Time=Money. Layout everything you need & send it to the bid room at both the box stores. Bounce them off of each other & make sure you get free delivery. 

I'll also order Lowe's items online though my bank of america card. It gives me 5x points that way.

Home Depot had laminate at 49 cents a sq ft today...

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