Three tips for construction companies in search of suppliers

Posted on 13 Jan 2016 by The Manufacturer

One of the biggest challenges contractors face before tackling a construction site is obtaining the appropriate materials for the job at an affordable price, without sacrificing quality or durability.

Sometimes a contractor will leave it up to the paying party to determine which materials are used, but in most cases an estimate is put together that details the cost of the materials, as well as the labour costs in the form of a quote or project proposal.

A busy contract manufacturer or construction company is usually tasked with a diverse range of building projects, leading to the need for an array of materials.

Now, the typical mainstay in most projects will include lumber; metal; composite wall material; insulation; wiring; ducting, etc., so it helps to find a good supplier for all of those items and stick with those providers to streamline your material sourcing process.

Here are some tips to help you achieve that:

1. Gather multiple quotes from bulk suppliers for the same materials

The first step you should take to test out the quoting processes and prices of prospective suppliers is to submit multiple requests for quotes on a specific set of materials to various suppliers. From there you can weigh the pros and cons of each supplier and determine which purchase would be most cost effective.

After doing this with a few projects consecutively you’ll begin to take note of which suppliers have the lowest prices or best deals on quality materials in each category. If you need help comparing the attributes of multiple suppliers, check out MindTools’ supplier evaluation tips. Starting with the basic principle of deduction you can narrow down your favourite suppliers for each specific material to save money and/or increase quality at the same time.

2. Never settle for re-purposed or scrap metal

We’ve all seen a few DIY projects done with a welding machine and scrap metal, and quite honestly most of them turn out pretty nice, but that obviously isn’t the kind of approach any professional would take unless instructed to do so by a client.

Another cost cutting trend is to buy what’s known as re-purposed or recycled metal. For certain applications, such metals may be permissible, but to reinforce a structure for example, you’d only want to purchase supplies from a reputable steel provider (i.e. – Cannon Steels LTD). We say that to say this, when it comes to metal rebar, steel columns, and other components that are intended to increase durability, it’s always best to go with quality over quantity.

3. Consider making lumber from timber

We’re sure you’re aware that lumber is simply timber (logs) that has been processed into boards, blocks and planks of various sizes. Many construction companies make the prudent investment of buying timberland and purchasing a decent sawmill to mill and dry their own lumber.

This of course can create huge savings on wood materials, which can be passed on to clients. Obviously, this isn’t an option for many smaller contractors, but for those who can afford a down payment on some timberland and have the demand for the wood, using a sawmill to make lumber from timber has many benefits.

Source materials on a case by case basis

In closing, we’ll leave you with some very important bonus tips that many novice construction companies overlook: Never buy more than 20% excess materials for one project. There’s a chance the excess could lie around for quite some time or even go to waste. Also, if a client is low-balling and is looking for cheap labour, don’t overspend on materials as that could cut into an already discounted labour rate.