building supplies ?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Mathematics!, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Mathematics!

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2008
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    I know for residential/home fixes and small builds one could get all his supplies he needs at a home depot or Lowes or local hardware store such as ACE.
    But I am curious where the contractor normally get there supplies when building for many site / homes. I would imagine they would have to buy in bulk and a place like home depot wouldn't be enough but correct me if I am wrong. ( I do see the contractor drive thru at home depot probably a lot different though)

    Example the contractor needs a hundred doors , 50 hot water heaters , ...etc would it be enough to just go to home depot ?
    What about when something needs to be special ordered like an odd size door what places do you uses interms of electrical , plumbing , carpentry, masonry , ...etc special orders ?

    Also for the commercial / industrial builds I would imagine you would have to go to a more specific places for your supplies like a plumbing supply store , or electrical supply store , or some steel girder company...?

    Any industrial/commercial contractors on this forum and care to elaborate on what you uses for companies/supplies/materials?
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  2. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    I imagine it varies all of the map depending on what items are being purchased and how big the contractor is. At the low end of the volume scale, The Home Depot and similar stores have the benefit of being a single stop source for a large variety of needs which can be an extremely valuable factor for very small contractors who don't have the time to deal with lots of different suppliers both in terms of placing orders, picking up orders and/or dealing with delivered, and in paying bills. But you don't get the best prices. As you get larger you need smaller per-unit savings before you can justify the added time/manpower to deal with multiple suppliers looking for the best prices. As you get larger you can get deeper discounts. As you get really large, suppliers come to you with even deeper discounts trying to get your business away from competitors.

    If you want a really good idea of how it all works, just call a contractor and ask them. Explain that you are just curious how the industry works and would love to ask them a few generic questions about how contractors of different sizes get some of the different kinds of supplies they use. You may have to call a few before you get someone to talk to you, but most people respond positively whenever they get to tell someone about how their profession functions.
     
  3. sirch2

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2013
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    In the UK we have retail DIY (like your Home Depot) and Builder's Merchants/Plumbers Merchants, etc. Small contractors would have an account at a builder's merchant and order through them, they get a discount based on the volume of business they put through. So for a one-off item it could well be cheaper to buy it from a DIY shed rather than at a builder's merchant but if you are a regular customer doing a reasonable volume then you could be getting 30 or 40% discount.

    If you need the sort of volumes you mention e.g. 100 doors, then it would be worth getting a price direct from the manufacturer, same with bricks/blocks/timber/etc. If it amounts to around a truck load then the manufacturer may well do it cheaper than an intermediary.

    Things like glazing and steel are generally ordered direct.
     
  4. Mathematics!

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2008
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    Ok I see so in terms of small , medium , large , extra large contractors what would be in your opinion an example of each say in terms of the number of doors ordered. ( also in terms of the number of people involved i.e an approximate average head count range for each sizes)

    Example
    Would it be small range is 1 to 10 doors
    Would it be medium range is 10 to 30 doors
    ...etc
    ???

    Also correct me if I am wrong it is the job of the general contractor to figure out the costs and how much building supplies he needs to get. Or in big projects is it like the general contractor delicates each area to another contractor like a plumbing contractor , a electrical contractor , a carpentry contractor ,...etc

    What I am trying to get at is the flow/overview of how the building supplies are obtained , rough estimate pricing , building supplies delicates ,...etc for each of the size contractors.

    And I would imagine normally the guys that actually do the installing of the pipes , wood , electrical ...etc i.e the plumbers , carpentry's , electricians never really have to worry about there building supplies since I would imagine these would be on site or given to them thanks to the contractor.
    Correct me if I am wrong but contractors know the materials , how much to get , and are responsibly for getting them to the plumber,electricians,...
    And it is the job of the plumbers, electricians ,...tradesmen to actually know how to install them. ( Obviously there is overlap of knowledge a lot of times with any great contractor or tradesmen )
    But is this mostly correct me info at least applied for larger building.
    Obviously smaller one man recking crews have to do it all them selfs ... but normally need a lot less materials I would imagine
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2013
  5. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
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    So much a square foot,a little mathematics.
     
  6. sirch2

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2013
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    It's 15 years or more since I was in the industry and I wasn't in house building but I guess it hasn't changed much.

    I can't really put it in terms of small, medium and large as you want. A lot of apparently "large" contractors have relatively few staff and the actual work is done by subcontractors. Whether or not a subcontractor provides their own materials varies from contact to contract. One of the primary aims is to off set the risk of cost/time over-runs. So if I am the main contractor and I order the doors but you install them, whose fault is it if the door installation over-runs or if some doors are damaged? If the main contractor subs all that out then the subbie is to blame...

    However small subbies may not have the buying power to get the best deal on doors. So the main contractor may get a much better price by buying the doors themselves.

    I don't really think there is a single way of doing it because the relationships between the client, designer/architect and contractor come in all combinations. Speculative housing developers may be both the client and the main contractor, in which case they get to say what doors the want, and decide if they are going to buy them in bulk or sub it out. OTOH if I want to extend my house, I may tell the architect what doors I want, or the architect may recommend something to me. I may have an old door I want to reuse, or my contractor may tell me he can get me a good deal.
     
  7. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    It depends.

    Two contractors that working comparable jobs may go about it very differently. One contractor may get a better deal at Vendor 1 because of all the doors they buy over the course of a year. Another contractor may get a better deal at Vendor 2 because they also buy many of their other supplies from Vendor 2. In one area contractors may go to the manufacturer for anything over ten doors because they have a wholesale warehouse nearby while in another area they may only go to a manufacturer if they are ordering a hundred doors because of lot and shipping charges.

    Even if someone could give you an answer for doors, the answer for door knobs would be entirely different. The answer for water heaters would be different. The answer for light switches would be different. The answer for carpeting would be different.

    The same for how costs are estimated. One contractor may do their own estimates for doors but leave that to a subcontractor for windows. Another contractor may do it the other way around.
     
  8. Mathematics!

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Jul 21, 2008
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    Question
    Is it the building contractors job to calculate the final / total house costs or just the raw house costs (i.e just the building materials / labor not the location/humanity factors )

    Is it like that and then the real estate people take the builders raw cost to calculate the additional location/humanity factors onto the raw cost to come up with an approximation range for the total cost of the home.

    And it would also correct me if I am wrong be the job of the real estate people to come up with the pricing of an old/aging houses
    ( so the raw materials of a house do not depreciate in time as does a car they normally go up in value for a house rather then down like a car is this only because home materials last a lot longer in functioning order then does car materials in moving order ) I would also imagine as the population increases the land cost/location/humanity elements will always be going up


    anybody on this forum no more about this to me some of the pricing for the location would be like throwing darts at a dart board when it comes to factoring in location/humanity elements not just the raw cost/labor of building materials.

    One other thing is how does a apartment leaser normally prices his apartment at if he has know idea. Does he normally go to a real estate person that would tell him an approximate range to price his square foot apartment factoring in the commodities (i.e the bath room , kitchen , oven , gas , quality ...etc) Or do most leasers just price it based on what others apartment renters are pricing theres at ???
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
  9. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    The range of options are many.
    One end is a Company forms or sets itself up as a Builder and may have previously purchased a tract of land, say that was previously agricultural, they most likely have already applied for the necessary zoning etc, they will have designed, usually in-house a 'Housing Development'
    A couple of Show Homes are pre built in order to sell the rest of the lots in the development.

    He will then sub-contract most trades and build as houses as they are pre-purchased.
    The other end of the scale is the individual that is usually licensed or skilled in at least one trade and will purchase a fixer-upper to flip and do most of the work himself or at least get the odd independent tradesman to complete some of the work he may not be able to do.
    Both the above may, or may not employ a Real Estate agent who is not only interested in getting the highest REALISTIC price, but also want the sale for himself, so the price cannot be unrealistic.
    The bottom line is the final price is what the market will bear for that particular dwelling by doing a current listing evaluation.
    Max.
     
  10. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    It is the building contractor's job to do whatever the bulding contractor has contracted to do. On Job A they may have responsibility for everything associated with cost and price and on Job B they may not have any responsibility at all and on the next ten jobs they have a different mix of what they are and aren't responsible for.

    You keep asking these broad sweeping questions expecting some single, simple answer.
     
  11. shortbus

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 30, 2009
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    And people keep giving him answers.:confused:
     
  12. WBahn

    Moderator

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    Admittedly I'm one of them because I'm the kind of person that can get interested in nearly any topic of discussion.
     
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