Or let the contractor buy everything?
In any construction project it is tempting to think that there are great savings to be gained by direct buying materials, fixtures, and building components for the contractor to install. In theory this saves the contractor’s markup which might be anywhere from 5 to 20%. Sounds good so far. Let’s look at the bigger picture for a moment.
Typically the contractor receives a deeper discount price, often wholesale, than any discount offered to you as a retail transaction. Even when a vendor tries to lure you with a sale or special offer, it is still generally more than the contractor’s price. The very best case scenario is that you may on occasion be able to match the contractor’s price. Even if this were the case, it is helpful to examine the process a little more closely.
The contractor is responsible for much more than just getting the item at a fair price. He is also responsible for:
1. Lead time - ordering the item early enough so that it arrives at the right time in the construction sequence
2. Verifying order - Making sure the right item is ordered, including the correct finish, details, options, installation kits, etc.
3. Receiving delivery - Being available to receive the delivery even if it does not arrive on the agreed upon day or time
4. Checking delivery - Checking to be sure it is the correct item, it is complete, and that it has not been damaged
5. Rectifying order problems - Contacting the shipper, vendor, and / or manufacturer if there is a problem
6. Tracking progress - Tracking the problem to be sure it is fully resolved
7. Storing items - and safely storing an item that might arrive too early
8. Testing - Checking to be sure it is functioning properly
9. Corrections - Rectifying any additional problems or deficiencies
10. Warranty - Being available during the entire construction warranty period to correct any problems that arise
In general, on a construction project, these needs arise on a frequent basis and the contractor is responsible to manage the process.
This list of responsibilities is why the contractor charges his markup and, in general, a contractor works hard to earn this money. If you feel inclined to take on the responsibilities listed above and you either enjoy the process or are willing to work hard for the cost savings then direct buying is a good idea for you. If however you have a busy life with other responsibilities then it is often best to leave this work to the contractor.