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Renovation Material Price Guide

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Published on
October 6, 2017

Material Price Tips (How to Make Sure You Get Bang for Your Buck)

When you're looking at having construction work performed on your house, the first thing you need to know is that labor costs are very fluid. Some contractors are based out of urban areas where prices are higher while others have more experienced skilled workers that demand higher pay. So labor is one cost- but the other that doesn't have to be so fluid is the material.

Material selection is key

Compare materials twice, pay once

Labor rates can also vary depending on the demand of the market. Currently in Ottawa, the city is on pace to receive double the amount of building permits compared to 2016. There is lots of work going on in the city which will drive the price of labor up. Despite this, there are some things you can do to control the price of your project. Here are some tips to ensure you get value on the material aspect of your project:

Supply your own material if possible

Supply the materials for your contractor. When contractors supply materials they will charge a mark up for delivery and coordination. You can save money by putting time into supplying materials. If they are a good contractor they will also offer you a contractor discount with suppliers.

When you price out materials, look further than the bottom line in order to get the best costs. It's important to look beyond just the price. For example, the adage of 'you get what you pay for' is crucially true in the construction industry. Materials might be ½ the price from one supplier, but if they are inferior and only have ¼ of the life span you're actually losing money long term.

This leads us to our next key point for getting value on material costs:

Use Contractors With Supplier Ties and Flexibility

One of the main reasons for hiring a local contractor to do your construction project is because they should have relationships with the nearby suppliers. Most contractors who buy in bulk get a discount on their materials as a loyalty bonus. Not always, mind you, but it's something to look into. Make sure to look for a contractor who offers you flexibility in deciding which materials to use. Not every contractor will allow you to supply your own materials - a dealbreaker if the cabinet finish you dream about isn't on their list of acceptable materials.

Get Multiple Bids

One of the most important responsibilities of a homeowner is to get multiple quotes on the project. Numerous bids help you to gauge labor costs and help define the amount and price of materials needed. Contractors who throw out a ballpark number on material quantity instead of measuring the need precisely will end up costing you scrap and/or restocking fees. Multiple, detailed bids also allow you to know exactly what work is being quoted for the price.

Make sure that your bids are comparing "apples to apples". A detailed scope and material summary will tell you what you're paying for and why. A bid without detail could be cutting corners to look artificially cheap compared to competitors. While this may be appealing on day 1, by day 1000 you'll be wishing you got the job done right the first time. A cheap renovation + a few cheap fixes over the following years usually add up to higher total costs than getting the renovation done right the first time. On top of this, you will have to deal with the the noise and cleanup more times than you needed to.

Explore All Material Options

You have numerous material options on almost every aspect of your home renovation. They vary from what type of insulation is used to the usual choices in siding, roofing materials, tile, etc. You should explore your options not only in what you buy – but also where. Specifically, some suppliers might have an overrun of a certain type of material or have end of season discounts. If you can save some money – and live with the style – it's definitely worth it for the long term ROI of your project.

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