When building or renovating your own home, you may put in a lot of time shopping at every store possible to find the exact tile that you fall in love with at the absolute best discount price. However, when it comes to investment properties there just isn't time for that, especially as you take on multiple properties. Your shopping around may save you a few bucks here and there, but it takes a lot of time. When real estate is a business and not your one time renovation your time it is worth more than those few bucks. So here is the best advice I can give you to simplify your life when it comes to materials: stick to big box stores for the majority of your items. We buy most things at Home Depot, and here is why:
1. One stop shop
Like I talked about above, your time is money! When we have a house under contract and are ready to design, I take a clipboard with a list of all the materials I need and my phone and head to Home Depot. I go through everything on my list (i.e. it'll say "4 bedroom light fans" or "48 inch vanity") and go down just about every aisle to pick out all of my materials at one time. I'll take the tile sample and paint selections with me over to the kitchen area and pick out designs that match. And every material that I select I write down the price and SKU number on my sheet (and usually take pictures of all of them on my phone for future reference). I pick out every detail even the faucets, garbage disposal, and door handles we want so that there is no confusion or miscommunication with contractors. Yes, this still takes hours to do but it saves a lot more time than running to every design store in town. Home Depot (or other big box stores likes Menards or Lowes) have enough of a selection that you should be able to get just about everything need.
**I do admit on a couple of the bigger items (like cabinets and countertops) I will shop around a couple more locations since those can be significant money savers if there are sales or remnant pieces.
My setup for hours of shopping!
Take a photo of the materials you want along with the price and product info for easy reference later
2. If it isn't broke, don't fix it
Another good thing about big box stores is they typically keep stock items around a while. So if we get lots of compliments on a bathroom design in our house, we will use the same tile surround again. Saves us time, and we know the design is already a winner!
3. Relatively affordable
Granted, Home Depot is not a wholesale or discount store, but overall their prices are pretty competitive. If you happen to have a rehab coming up around a holiday, take advantage of store specials (like labor day weekend) or wait a couple weeks and buy your appliances towards the end of the project when they have a major sale going on.
4. Streamline processes: online ordering and delivery
Once again, time is money! And Home Depot offers some processes that make my life easier. I can sit at home in Utah and order every single material online and have it ready for my contractor to pick up, or have it delivered, the next day in Colorado. Or if my contractor is ordering and picking up all the materials from the list I gave him and he gives me a call to say one of them is out of stock I can either go online or run to my local Home Depot store and pick out a substitute very quickly.
5. Contractor account
Another perk about big box stores is they have contractor accounts which offer benefits (which vary by store). Most contractor accounts get discounts or rebates--at Home Depot we receive 2% cash back on all purchases. Also you can set up your account to be able to make check out very easily and organize purchases by project to track what materials are for. In fact, I can give permission for a contractor to purchase things on my account so that he can do all the work of shopping and picking it up yet we still get the credit card points and 2% cash back :) And if you know us, credit cards points are very valuable (travel!!!)
I know there may be a stigma about how shopping at Home Depot is not a custom design, but honestly you can make a house beautiful from options they have. And most people don't spend enough time at Home Depot to know that is where materials came from--we often get surprised looks when we say we shop there because many of our materials look designer. So take our advice and save yourself time, and often money, and shop for your next project at the big box stores!