Costs savings when ordering materials yourself? Not really

When a general contractor orders the materials himself, and hire an installer separately, with the hope of saving a little from the cost of materials, it is usually not worth it. From this post’s author’s experience, here are the reasons why:

1-First of all you loose your single source accountability during the execution of the job.

2-You loose your single source liability after the job is finished, when the installed material needs to perform as expected. If something goes wrong, your installer will most likely blame you about the materials or the way how you coordinated the installation.

3-You expose yourself to quantity takeoff mistakes. This can cause extra money when you have to throw away or reorder material. Reordering material will also mean schedule delay.

4-You will have to use your own administrative resources to quantify, order, track, process the whole material ordering and receiving job. It is a lot of extra follow up and overhead time and paperwork.

5-You are responsible for the delays of the material. Usually if you hire an installer order the materials, as they are doing this all the time, they will have established and more efficient order channels and they will most certainly be able to deliver quicker than you can bring, unless they experience delays for other internal reasons of their own.

6-It is true that your installer will put a markup if you get the material through him, but for the reasons explained above, they can get the material cheaper than you, and make the overall installation cheaper, because they have the advantage of mass ordering, experience and established channels.

7-You will need to have extra supervision time to watch the installer because the material belongs to you and the waste, quality of installation will depend on the correct use of material, which you will need to ensure yourself in this case. If you had your installer supplied the materials, you only watch him for being on schedule and installing per plans and specs.

8-You are responsible for the field measurements if necessary.

9-You are responsible for the producing of the submittals, even if it is through your vendor, and not only just reviewing them.

Therefore, it is really not worth it to order the materials yourself, if you are operating as a general contractor. You should only do this if you find yourself in a situation that your subcontractor is going to delay the job and that delay will affect the overall progress of the job. For just cost saving reasons which will not be much anyway, ordering materials yourself is really not recommended.

In one of the jobs I saw, the owner of a small general construction company, decided to save nickel and dime and ordered the masonry brick himself. The whole process in that case was running so poorly that they were continuously running out of masonry brick and brick accessories all the time and ordering them back again and again in addition to the problems they had with the brick material and in addition to the exposures they would have about the items we listed above. It is not worth it.

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