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Building Material Surplus Outlets


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By Lisa in Onalaska, WI on 2/20/2007


Does anyone have experience purchasing building supplies through a surplus outlet store? I haven't seen anything so far in any of the forums addressing this. We have a surplus store about two hours from us and visited there a couple of weeks ago. They have a huge variety of building supplies including many windows and doors that have never been installed. They say they are returns and overstocks. The prices seem very good.

One of their "tips" is to buy your windows there before finalizing your home plans and then making your plans work with the windows. It seems that you could save a lot of money this way. One pitfall, however, is that I don't think the manufacturer's warranty would apply to purchases made through this outlet. The outlet also has building-supply auctions - I'm also curious about those. If anyone has any thoughts or experiences regarding these, I'd appreciate your input.
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 2/21/2007


We have several surplus stores around here, I used some (many?/most?) of them. You realize pretty quickly which ones have stuff you are looking for, and which ones only have stuff.

One store in general, lots of doors and windows. Many times these were still labeled with the store that ordered them in the first place (all special order), and all very well priced.

Every kitchen appliance I purchased came from one of these stores as well.  These were brand new kitchen appliances installed and later removed from model houses (I guess people didn't like these appliances and had the GC change them out prior to closing). Yes, I don't have factory warranty. When was the last time you needed/used factory warranty on your existing appliances? For me, at average savings over 50%, I figured I could perhaps risk a service call or two.

All my interior doors also came from surplus. As did interior and exterior door hardware (you can't order surplus items keyed alike, so figure a service charge from a locksmith into your estimate). Some plumbing fixtures also surplus. A lot of great bargains out there.

However I would recommend designing you house around what you want, and then looking at surplus items to fill in the gaps of what you need to build the house. If your surplus supplier handles Andersen windows, have your designer use the Andersen window catalog and then take it to the surplus shop. If you can get some windows, great, you saved some money. If not, they will have more come in. If they don't, you can get them elsewhere. However, never settle for something just because it is a good deal.


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By Trevor in Bonaire, GA on 2/21/2007


Ken, could you provide some of the names of the surplus stores you visited?

Thanks,

Trevor


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 2/21/2007


The stores I visited are all local to me, not chains. I could post them, but they would be of little to no value to you, as you would have to ship, negating any benefit you may receive. Also, unless you can actually see the surplus merchandise, I wouldn't buy it.

However, let me give you a couple of ideas for surplus merchandise: 

1) For kitchen appliances, these are usually special-order-only as the suppliers don't stock merchandise. But what about merchandise ordered that is never picked up - provide a list of appliances you are looking for to these places so they can call you if this situation occurs. Now this works best if you want some mainstream products carried in many places, but not truly top-of-the-line appliances (e.g. KitchenAid Architect Series dishwasher, also conveniently rebadged and sold as Kenmore Elite, so you can add Sears to your list if you want this unit).

2) Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I found interesting items here, although I never purchased anything. This seems to be more of a remodel-type outlet, and not so much new materials. However, I donated all excess materials I could not return for cash (e.g. I purchased 500' coils of PEX and once I cut them, I could not return them to the plumbing supplier) and took a tax write-off. Other areas also have these stores, and some people have had good luck finding bargains here.

3) In my local newspaper classifieds, there is a section of the classifieds titled "Building Materials." Many of the ads in this section are actually from surplus suppliers. Take the time and go by them to see what they have to offer. Some carry some pretty high-end equipment (e.g. Grohe faucets), although some seem to think that this stuff is worth quite a bit. This was probably my single-best source for locating surplus suppliers in my area.

However, anyone in my locale is free to contact me through O-B Connections, and I would be happy to provide a list of my suppliers. This is much cleaner than filling the forums with information of value to only a very limited audience...


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By Lisa in Onalaska, WI on 2/21/2007


Ken - thanks for your input. I have read your posts before and you always seem to have great input based on experience. I agree with you on the warranty issue - I have virtually never benefited from a warranty and we are willing to take on some additional risk as a trade-off for significant cost savings. I also appreciated your thoughts on getting what you want instead of letting "good deals" dictate how the house is designed. Very good advice - I needed to hear that, as I LOVE a good deal, but don't want to get too carried away in the great deals and be disappointed with the finished product. 

I also would be willing to exchange information on surplus/discount suppliers with anyone who would be in the same local market that I am. I'm considering my "market" to be from Minneapolis, MN to Chicago, IL and everywhere in between :)

Thanks again - Lisa


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