[The following is Frank Chin's reply to Jonathan's Rehabbing Houses Top 10 Tips (Part 1)]
Jonathan, great tips, and I thought I'd add a few.
#1. I agree running to and from Home Depot is a big waste of time. I found that in the several Home Depots in my area, they only have two cashiers from 7:00AM to 9:00AM. If I can get there by 7:00AM and get to the cashier before 8:00AM, there's not a long line. But by 9:00AM, they have three more cashiers coming on duty, and between 9:00AM and 9:30AM, they usually have cashiers waiting for customers.
#2. My rehabs involve rental properties, and I priced my last kitchen and Home Depot. Their cabinets came out to $2,600 before installation. They are wooden doors and particle board construction. I found a local factory that makes all wood cabinets and got them for slightly more. For rentals, particle board construction,careless tenants, and water make a bad combination.
#3. Like you, I have contractors pick up materials. I reimburse them, but I have to say some try to slip a tool or two in hoping I won't catch it.
#4. I use "mom and pop" hardware stores near my rentals. A tube of caulking is 25 cents more, but I find it more cost effect. Other stuff like patching cement costs twice as much or more than Home Depot.
#5. To avoid multiple trips to Home Depot, one basement store room resembles a hardware store. The screw section is stocked with boxes of screws from 1/4" up. We have a caulking section, doorknobs, switch plates, toilet assemblies, and parts.
Jonathan's reply to Frank
Frank, you bring up a very good issue. Folks, if you rehab as much as we do, you need to watch every penny. The other day I was at Home Depot with one of my partners. We needed a bunch of minor stuff, including masking tape to paper over the windows. (Like I said, I don't want people looking in.)
We spent five minutes trying to find the cheapest. He found something for $1.63. I said it was too much for what was needed, and I found one for $.89. Other people would have just kept what they bought, which is okay if it's a one time shot. But when you rehab, you can't. If we can get it for two bucks cheaper at Lowe's, we will make the trip. Of course, it has be be for more than one item.
As Franks said, you need to stay on top of the rehab crew and watch them carefully. We've had other projects where some tools and supplies have gone missing, and we just don't use that crew again. Eventually, you know what's in your supply chest.
Last point, if you do simultaneous or multiple rehabs, try to use the same supplies for different houses. We use the same paint colors for all our houses. So, when we have leftovers, we just move it to the next house. So, again, watch your pennies, they add up.