Tips for managing your building materials requirements.

An extensive range of products and building materials must be acquired and combined on site to create your new home. Managing your project’s material needs effectively is essential and forms a large part of the management of your self build.

building materials



Let’s have a look at a few simple tips that will make life easier for you and your suppliers.

Be Prepared

You’ve probably been looking at products and building materials for some time and as the design phase progresses and you begin to ‘take off’ quantities and cost out different options, your specification will solidify and you’ll get a clearer picture of where to source everything you need.

Speak to builders merchants and suppliers about your plans, discuss discount rates and open accounts so you are ready to roll when your build gets underway. Contact them early, as many merchants will offer useful pre-construction services.

Planning and Ordering

Plan ahead – When work gets underway, monitor site progress and your schedule, talk to your tradesman and refer to the plans and specification to identify what building materials you need and when. If materials are not there when the guys on site need them, work will grind to a halt.

Lead Times – Remember that many items, particularly prefabricated items such as roof trusses and beam and block floors will have a lead time and you need to order them in advance and arrange a delivery date in line with your program.

Place Orders in Good Time – Even if your building supplies are in stock, you will have to wait your turn on the delivery schedule, which for a large, busy merchant could mean a few working days.

Combine Orders – By planning properly you can order a number of items from the same supplier at the same time. Merchants and suppliers deliver far and wide and often don’t charge for delivery so you can be more professional and get in the good books by avoiding multiple smaller orders.

Bulk Orders – If you’ve got plenty of space on site then consider taking larger quantities of materials in one go. A loose load of sand will work out a lot cheaper than bulk bags and vastly cheaper again than pre-packed handy bags. Economies of scale apply to most materials.

Let Your Trades Do It – You may prefer to set up accounts and authorise certain tradesmen to call off materials themselves as and when they need them.

Receiving Deliveries

Access – Give suppliers details of the access to your site so that they can send appropriate delivery vehicles. Construction materials are delivered on large, heavy and sometimes articulated lorries. Think about the size of access roads, soft or uneven ground, trees or overhead wires and the reversing or turning options.

Confirm It – If you’ve ordered something and agreed a delivery date a few weeks previously, don’t forget to give them a call a few days before to check everything is still on.

Preparing to Receive – If you are expecting a delivery, prepare for it. Make sure you have clear access for the delivery vehicle and somewhere to store the building materials and equipment (or manpower!) to move them if need be.

Check the delivery – Check specification, sizes, quantities and for any damage before you sign the delivery ticket.


Most suppliers will give you fairly favourable credit terms and by all means take advantage of them but make sure you pay when you need to. Chasing up debts only cost suppliers more money and could put you out of favour.

Building Relationships

By being friendly, polite, organised and paying your bills on time you will make your supplier’s lives easier. If you need some help at any point, which undoubtedly you will, they will be more willing to help you out. You may even get a better discount.

Having said that, don’t let anyone take advantage of your good nature. There will be times when you need to be tenacious to ensure you get what you want. Strike the balance right, plan well and managing your materials will run smoothly.

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