BUYING IN BULK
If you have never before done a construction project, you will be unfamiliar with buying in bulk. It has two theoretical advantages. You should be able to get a discount on large purchases, and it should also mean fewer trips to the lumber yard.
The trick to bulk purchasing is accurately figuring out the materials you will need and in what quantities you will need them. You may insist on consulting your blueprints for this delicate task. However, I have found that visualizing the job and randomly generating numbers in my head works just as well.
The ideal method is to wait for one of those huge ads that comes through the mail from the home improvement warehouses, and make a list based on the contents. Each page contains at least one item you will need for your project. These booklets advertise 2X4s, insulation, plywood and a host of other interesting items including lawn chairs, Bar-B-Que grills and basketball hoops. (Although a new Bar-B-Que grill was not in your original plan, there is no reason you should not include it on your list.)
When your materials list is complete, take it to the various lumber sources. Give them a copy of your list, they can usually quote you a price while you wait. Some lumber yards will dicker on a price or try to undercut other warehouses. You can use this to your advantage. If your project is big enough, you might even be able to get them to toss in that Bar-B-Que grill at no charge.
I took my list to five lumber yards and got a variety of estimates. Being a man of frugal sensibilities, I took the lowest bid. My wife chastised me for not checking out the quality of the lumber beforehand, but I assured her that minor defects in boards could be straightened with the judicious use of a few nails. Besides, I had ordered quality grade lumber.
It felt good to place the order. I stood at the counter and watched the clerk type the list into his computer. He had a broad grin permanently affixed to his face.
"How long will it be before your guys can deliver the materials?" I asked.
"Well, you've got this special order glu-lam beam. They're gonna have to manufacture that."
I nodded. "OK. So what is the total with tax?" I whipped a single check from my breast shirt pocket and laid it out on the counter top.
The clerk covered his mouth with a balled fist and managed to laughed into his sleeve. "You've got one of those loans, don't you?"
"What loans?" my face burned.
"Your wife has to approve every expenditure."
"What are you talking about?" I scoffed.
"You've got one check, and let's see..." He jerked the rectangular piece of paper out of my hand. "Yup, that's her signature."
I rolled my eyes and resolved to charge my purchases in the future. Robin could pay the charge bills from our building fund.