Procurement Purchasing Strategies For Home
As owner builder, you will want to employ the best practices in
your purchasing - to use procurement purchasing strategies that
will enable a smooth work flow on the job site. Procuring
the materials you need in a timely fashion requires planning
You have already determined what you will
need for your home building project and probably from whom you
will buy. These topics are covered in Cost
Estimate and Suppliers'
As you need
materials (according to your updated Critical
Path and in consultation
with your subcontractors) you will write purchase orders and
order them. Make sure you specify the quantity, description,
and unit price of all materials you order.
WHAT ALL IS AFFECTED BY YOUR ORDER?
materials, try to think of everything
that affects or will be affected by the item you are ordering. For example, when ordering
counter tops, you need to tell the supplier the make and model
numbers of the appliances you are going to use so that properly
sized spaces can be provided to receive them.
The number one rule in any good purchasing strategy is to use
purchase orders! You can get them at any good office supply
store. Here's a generic
form you can use "as is" or adapt
to your needs.
The importance of "getting it in writing" cannot
be overemphasized. It is a record of all the details of the transaction.
Purchase orders are an integral part
of controling your materials costs. More details on the use of purchase orders and what should
be included in a purchase order can be found on our section on
Verbal orders, either by phone or face-to-face
with the salesman, are also a good idea - as long as they are
backed up with a confirming written purchase order!
help answer any
questions that are out of the ordinary. Talking with your salesman
can help you tie down details and
get a commitment on the delivery.
Verbal orders become a necessity when
you come up short on some item and the subs are waiting. You'll
even find yourself jumping in your car or truck to run pick
something up that's desperately needed!
Just remember to follow that verbal order up with a written confirming
purchase order, so that you "get it in writing!" You'll need the paper trail for your records.
lumber orders you will also need to specify the lengths
For example, floor joists and roof rafters must be long enough
to make the entire span required. They cannot be spliced.
other words, if lumber is quoted in board feet, it has to
be purchased by quantity and length. For example: 38-2x6x14
would mean that you are ordering thirty-eight two by sixes,
each of which is fourteen feet long.
If you do not want to be involved at this
level of complexity (and many builders don’t), you can have
the suppliers do the takeoff. You can let him worry about
proper lengths and so forth.
Just be sure that the supplier
will make extra deliveries (sometimes called "fill-ins")
if you are short any needed materials. Also make sure that the
supplier will take back any unused materials in resalable condition,
and that you won't be charged a
Modern suppliers should be selling materials
in ordinarily understood increments - like linear feet, square
yard, cubic feet, each, etc. Some however, may try to slip a board
foot or worse yet a thousand board feet in on you. Don’t
let this throw you. Just ask the supplier
to translate these measurements into linear feet.
In case you missed the explanation on how you can convert board
feet yourself in Suppliers' Quotes, here it is again. Take a few
minutes and follow it through. It's not that complicated, really!
And it is an excellent tool to have in your quiver.
TRANSLATING BOARD FEET INTO LINEAR FEET
A board foot is a piece of wood whose nominal*
measurements are 1" x 12" x 12". The rule is to
multiply the nominal dimensions together and then divide the answer
Example - for a 2x4: multiply two times
four. The answer is eight. Divide eight by twelve. The answer
is .67. Each linear foot of 2x4 has .67 board feet.
So a 2x4
which is ten feet long has .67 x 10 = 6.7 board feet. Ten
which are ten feet long have .67 x 10 x 10 = 67 board feet.
convert board feet to hundred board feet, divide by 100. To
convert board feet to thousand board feet, divide by 1,000.
our last example (ten 2x4’s, each ten feet long), you
would have 67÷100
= .67 hundred board feet. Easy, huh?
Some lumber dealers
like to price their lumber this way because that is
the way they buy it. How about the example given earlier of
the 38-2x6x14's. How many board feet is that? Answer:
2x6÷12x14x38 = 392 board feet.
Again, it may have been
quoted that way, but you would order it by quantity
*Nominal measurement means what the particular piece is called,
which is really its rough-cut, unfinished size. For example, a
2x4 is actually 1-1/2" x 3-1/2." "Nominally" it
is a 2x4.
MARKING THE LOT
It is important that the owner builder mark
the home building lot clearly with
a sign that shows where the materials are to be placed. The sign
should be visible from the road. Give the lot and block number
of the lot and the address if you have it.
Also, certain materials
need to be placed in certain locations when they are delivered
so that they will not have to be moved unnecessarily. For example,
the bricks for the foundation walls should not be unloaded right
where your footings are to be dug!
Being there when the materials
arrive, or putting a sign (“Put
Bricks Here”), will solve this problem before it is
RECEIVING AND STORING MATERIALS
Receiving materials is the other half of ordering. We cover this
important subject in Cost Control. Proper receiving is an important
part of your relationship with your suppliers. Don't
When you did your Schedule
were working somewhat in a theoretical world. Now your
scheduling will be real world, indeed! Your
biggest job will be in training yourself to always
think ahead two or three steps.
your framing starts, you should be lining up the electrical,
plumbing, HVAC, and insulation work. When these are in the works,
be lining up your trim.
Get your subcontractors out in advance,
and make sure they remember
what it is you want on your home building job. They may have
done several other jobs since quoting yours. And everyone
doesn’t have a perfect memory or keep
completely accurate notes.
Your schedule planning will help
you stay on top of it. Just remember this cardinal scheduling
rule for successful home building:
Don’t wait until one job is finished
before you schedule the next.
A good owner builder is always working
not only with today’s
subcontractors and suppliers, but also those who won’t come
into play for two or three weeks.
Be especially vigilant to allow more than
the allotted time necessary for special order stuff to be
acquired by your suppliers. Examples may include custom window
sizes, "specialty" hardware,
non-stock brick, etc.
If your supplier says it will take six
weeks, tack on a few extra weeks to be on the safe side. Even
so, you may experience unavoidable delays with special order
items. So don't be surprised. There are lots of surprises
in home building. As an owner builder, you have to be ready
to roll with the punches.
Another area of Construction Management responsibility for the
owner builder is Scheduling (the day-to-day variety). Click here to go to Scheduling or here to go back to Construction Management.
For additional insight into the Purchasing process,
see Lesson Thirteen of our online course
Successful Home Contracting.
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