Building & Renovating

5 Questions You Need to Ask When Sourcing for Building Materials

Get your money’s worth with these insights from contactor Nikki Bustos

Photography: Pexels (Main Photo)

Beyond finalizing the theme you want to work on, constructing a new house or renovating an old property involves meticulous planning and careful selection of materials to work with. After all, a huge chunk of your budget will go to paint, wood, cement, and the like.

As you go through the processes involved, you might encounter difficult decisions concerning paint, recycling old wood, and coming up with a list of items you can splurge on. To help you finish your project within the specified deadline and without overspending, here are questions to guide you and a few insights from contractor Nikki Bustos:

1. How will I know if I need to buy new materials?

Look around your house and see if there are things you longer like. Do you have a leaking roof? Is your kitchen sink still in tip-top shape? “ If your renovation project is more about repairing and improving your basic home functions, such as loose doorknobs or a cracked wall, then I suggest you concentrate on buying items  that will address this. But if your main renovation goal is to improve the overall look of your home, then identify what aspects of your house mainly go against your design plan and prioritize in changing them,” says Nikki.

2. How should I start sourcing and where should I go first?

“For those who choose to manage their renovation projects by themselves, the best place to go to will be the nearest DIY hardware store. This will not only save you time, but you will also avoid paying for costly delivery charges. And as always, the Internet is a good source for construction suppliers. If you have a professional designer, then he or she is the best source when buying new materials. Your designer's knowledge of the products will not only help you identify its supplier, but he or she can also immediately discuss other concerns such as cost, installation procedure, and durability. [Moreover], sourcing through your designer is the best way to ensure that you remain faithful to your approved design."

3. What materials should I buy first?

“The list of priority will depend on your renovation plan and schedule. If no major electrical and sanitary works are needed, going ‘top bottom’ might also help you. This means, repair the roof, handle the ceiling, address the masonry and other carpentries, then fix the flooring and painting. Buying of materials should always depend on your work schedule.”

4. Are there materials I need to splurge or scrimp on?

“Since we all have different interests and tastes which are reflected through our design choices, I suggest that you splurge on the most important parts of the house for you. For instance, if you love to cook, then invest on a beautiful and functional kitchen. For those who regularly entertain, a nice and comfortable lanai may be very useful. But never forget that scrimping on electrical and sanitary materials is a no-no. Anything that involves severe repair works must be splurged on.”

5. I do not like the materials that my designer or contractor suggests. How should I reconcile our differences?

Remember that the designer or architect is your partner. It's important to have open communication lines as well as regular meetings for updates and feedback. It's also vital that there's transparency between the two parties to avoid problems.

“The best way to ensure that you have fully expressed your ideas to your designer is through visual presentation, such as pictures from magazines or the net which represent your personal taste, preference in color, or any specific material of your choice. By doing this your designer will also be guided in planning to deliver your ideal home. Definitely, there may be instances where in you will disagree with each other, but the best way to address this is by being honest to your designer. In the end, your decision should prevail. After all, you are the homeowner who will be enjoying the fruits of your renovation project.”

Interview by Katherine Lopez. This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of Real Living Magazine. Minor edits have been made by the editors. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

PHOTOS: Pexels | Mark Chester Ang (4)

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