The Self Build Self Help Site Buying Materials
Sub header photo of list of materials

Accounts with Suppliers

You will need an account with at least one local builders merchant.

Generally, there will be branches of the usual national companies plus some local companies. If you can, get recommendations from other builders. The 2 key criteria are reliability and price. With regard to reliability, there is a lot to go wrong and all merchants will make mistakes at some time or another - so you could go on price initially. Ask your local merchants to give you account prices for a few volume products in order to compare prices (be prepared to give likely quantities) - for example

When ordering materials for the first time, where you will need more of that material, then tell them what your overall likely need is and you may well get a volume discount.

We have come across one local builders merchant where we never seemed to get a discount when the monthly statement was received. Even though we brought this to their attention, we didn't find out until we had closed the account that you had to ask for your trade discount price when placing the order! So check on this when setting up an account.

Even if you have an account, there can be some variation in price given by different sales people within the same company. So if you get a price for an item that sounds good, but don't order it at the time, check you get the same price if you order at a later date! Otherwise you could find a different price when you are invoiced - it happens!

You may find that you can get better prices for certain types of materials by finding specific suppliers - notably for plastic materials (underground, rainwater, soffit/fascia etc), wood (joists, roof trusses etc) and aggregates and concrete blocks. Of course, the more accounts you have, the more complicated things get. If you find cheaper suppliers and you want to get sourced from your main builders merchant, then let them know what other quotes you have and they may give you a more competitive price.

Getting the right price

The prices for certain items can vary greatly between builders merchants. At one time we received a delivery of cavity closers and found the price to be about 40 per length. A call to another merchant came up with a price of approx. 10. We ordered from them and sent the first order back. When you need about 20-30 lengths then its big money.

And it has been known that a builders merchant has given a (slightly) better price for material (in this case concrete blocks) than the price quoted by the block manufacturer - it really is a jungle out there!

Receiving Materials

Always check the materials you have received - against your order, against the delivery note, and for any damage/imperfection. The reason for this is best illustrated by just some of the delivery problems that we have encountered:-