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Big Box VS Lumberyard

PeteDraganic's picture

The poll question got me to thinking about how we use big box stores and lumberyards.


I admit that I love the big boxes for tools and incidentals off-the-shelf.  They are convenient because they usually carry a far greater selection and scope of goods than can the lumberyards.


However, unless it is a few sticks of lumber, I would never order my lumber through there.... nor any specialty products or special orders. 


For instance, I just ordered a custom-sized steel entry door.  I wouldn't dream of ordering such an item from a BBS.


There is also the element of loyalty where I do prefer to deal with a certain few lumberyards because I am used to them, their quality of product and the service they provide... HOWEVER, their is also the matter of sheer business convenience of going to a larger place that carries all things in one place when it comes to the goods that are standard fare anywhere, such as screws, nails, adhesives, tools, hardware, etc.  Not to mention that a lot of the purchases form BBS is due to my being on a project and needing a few things when I am near the BBS but miles from the nearest of my regular lumberyards.




When you're this good, EVERYONE wants a crack at you!
http://www.petedraganic.com/

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I refuse to accept that there are limitations to what we can accomplish.        Pete Draganic

 

(post #76517, reply #1 of 49)

Personally I  consider it a business decision not to give my competition any profit dollars to use against me. 


 


 


Edited 2/26/2007 8:45 pm ET by sledgehammer

(post #76517, reply #2 of 49)

Its funny about the BBS. I always like to support the local guys, and as a Canadian I like to support Canadian companies as well( no effence Americans). The funny thing is as much as a hate HD for what there about I cna't help but going in there. Like many others I don't buy a lift of plywood from them, but for little things there perfect. I don't try to buy tools from them I prefer my local guy who with I've been dealing with for years, but its hard to walk buy a bosch hammer drilll for $120 and then walk out and buy it from my local supplier for$160.I'll even admit to having a HD commercial account.( I wanted the free step ladder). So if I need 3 2x4's, an extension cord, a box of screws and a chocolate bar I go to depot. As you can see my materials list is usually small so I don't give them much money and I am proud to at least say that.

(post #76517, reply #3 of 49)

As a homeowner (not in the "business"), I always go to the local lumber yard for any interior detail work. They have a larger millwork selection, though it will usually have to be ordered (if I planned ahead as I should have, I must have the time to wait, right?), and they will rip wood to my nonstandard needs. No warps, either. My doors and storm doors have come from them, as I want it to fit first time. If I'm in doubt, I go there. As I near retirement, I've been putting the best into my house that I can afford, not wanting to do it again when I'm in my 70's and on the dole ( I hope you'll all still be paying into my Social Security). But it's ridiculous to buy "boxed" stuff from them. I never buy tools or plumbing fixtures from the retail houses when it's so less expensive on-line or at the Box. When I can get a $300 faucet for one third that on line, I will. That extra $100 goes toward things that really count, like a drill or a new hybrid club. I'm also getting rid of clutter, since I have less interest in organizing small hardware in hundreds of baby food jars, especially since my children are in their 30's, and I have no more baby food jars available. Of course, some of you might suggest that I wait until my 70's when I might have more of them, plus diapers as well. Shame on you. I go to Ace now for the four screws I need rather than buying a blister pack of 16 from the Box, putting the remaining 12 in a baby food jar, if I can find one. I like those little envelopes where I get to write 4 @ 20 cents. When my Dad died, we found hundreds of small containers of hardware. What do you do with them? My initial instinct was to take them home and put them on a shelf in my garage, but I fought it. Life is too short.


Edited 2/26/2007 10:20 pm ET by BARMIL

(post #76517, reply #19 of 49)


 

Personally I  consider it a business decision not to give my competition any profit dollars to use against me. 


I dont want to try and compete with HD. I do the same things that they do(siding,decks roofs,windows etc.) but I do it better. My customers know that. My customers know that my price is not meant to compete with HD because it comes with a level of service that HD does not offer. They are buying accountability, commitment, competance and communication when they sign up with me. HD is incapable of offering them that, at any price.


When I have a customer that is shopping me against HD, I tell them to research HD's service record and research mine. Odds are that, just in their area alone, HD has several dozen customers that have had a unsatisfying experience, Me ? A potential customer is welcome to talk to any one of my customers about their experience with me. Good customer relations are not an accident, they are the result of careful planning and communication, wether it is a tiny roof or a $30,000 custom designed deck. That is worth what I charge for it.  =)


 


 


 


I want to be so good that they couldn't afford it, if they had to pay what it was worth.     {G}


 


 


 


Naive but refreshing !

(post #76517, reply #4 of 49)

I never buy serious amounts of wood from the BBS...just bits and pieces only b/c I'm there anyway and its closer than the LY besides.


For large amts I always go to my LY except for rock in any amt b/c even my salesman at my local yard admits rock is way expensive there...matter of fact I went to a rock supplier by me the other day when I needed 15 4x8's of 1/2" and one bd of 1/4".....know how much those bastids wanted? FIFTEEN dollars a board!!! HD up the road was $10!! Some of these small guys are nuts!


You just have to be a good consumer is all.



 


 


"As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!" Woody Guthrie 1956


 


HTTP://WWW.CLIFFORDRENOVATIONS.COM                                   


 

(post #76517, reply #5 of 49)

"I never buy serious amounts of wood from the BBS...just bits and pieces only b/c I'm there anyway and its closer than the LY besides."

Does that include cedar pickets? <g>

I prefer to use the lumber yards because their price is typically better and the service, in most cases, is superior. For the laundry lists, the box stores are hard to beat. Also, if you need something at 6:00 PM on a weekday, you better be able to wait until tomorrow if you only deal with a LY.

 


Jon Blakemore

RappahannockINC.com

Fredericksburg, VA

 

Jon Blakemore

RappahannockINC.com

Fredericksburg, VA

(post #76517, reply #6 of 49)

Does that include cedar pickets? <g> <<<<

That goes along with my sentence about being a good consumer.
I saved about a thousand dollars getting those at HD!


 


 


"As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!" Woody Guthrie 1956


 


HTTP://WWW.CLIFFORDRENOVATIONS.COM                                   


 

(post #76517, reply #7 of 49)

Maybe your location plays into the discrepancy between pricing at the BBS and LY.


I have a different supplier for my DW.... they sell mostly only DW, Steel studs and lay-in ceiling materials.  They deliver too, so when I need 100 sheets, they bring it to me and stack it where I want it.




When you're this good, EVERYONE wants a crack at you!
http://www.petedraganic.com/

<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> 

I refuse to accept that there are limitations to what we can accomplish.        Pete Draganic

 

(post #76517, reply #8 of 49)

yeh...me too. all they sell is drywall and metal studs and they tried soaking me for fifteen bucks a board "picked up".
I figured they'd be the least expensive...matter of fact I used them to bring most of the rock to this house a cpl of years ago and they boomed it all in the windows.. Thats what I get for wearing clean cothes there...lol


 


 


"As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!" Woody Guthrie 1956


 


HTTP://WWW.CLIFFORDRENOVATIONS.COM                                   


 

(post #76517, reply #10 of 49)

I remember in the past a post made here by someone I don't know, maybe Mooney, where the story was related by the person that he was sitting on a plane next to an owner of a large drywall factory and was told directly that drywall he sold to the bigboxes was of lesser quality than that which he sold to lumberyards.


Floored me then and floors me now just thinking about it.


 


be u guessed it...floored


 


 


every court needs a jester

 

(post #76517, reply #11 of 49)

Lumber/plywood at "the borg" (I love that term) is terrible. If I have to go there to get some, it takes forever to dig through that stuff to pick out suitable material. The LY's here (on Long Island, NY) offer superior service and material. Oh, and they offer people who know what they hell they are talking about. On the odd occasion I have gotten some crap mixed in my loads, a call, and they will, (begrudgingly) return and swap it out.
I have even gotten comfortable enough to haggle over price (but you will still pay a premium. The LY's (those that stock it) prices for dry wall is always much more expensive, 30 to 50% more and that seems to be universal. So I always buy it at the box stores.
Tools ...I rather buy them online, even big items. Usually you can match and beat any box store price and No Tax (in NY that means A LOT) and in many cases you can get free shipping.

(post #76517, reply #16 of 49)

rez
I posted something a LONG TIME AGO where I bought 8 and 10's at HD and when I put them up on a "ceiling" I couldn't figure out what was going wrong. Why I couldn't line them up right.
The 10's were 3/8" narrower than the 8's. I think it was just a fluke and of course it hadda be on the ceiling...


 


 


"As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!" Woody Guthrie 1956


 


HTTP://WWW.CLIFFORDRENOVATIONS.COM                                   


 

(post #76517, reply #20 of 49)

rez


On more than one occasion I've seen the Lowes truck at Toledo Plywood (sheet good retailer) and my local Gordon Lumber.  Buying material.  At my cost the desk guys said.  Long lengths framing and some of the specialty cab. ply.  Wonder what they charge that out to the customer?  So there's the "got everything" place.


A great place for Information, Comraderie, and a sucker punch.


Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.



http://www.quittintime.com/


 

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


http://www.quittintime.com/

 


(post #76517, reply #21 of 49)

the reverse of that, i saw at hd about a month ago. a local lumberyard truck pulled in front of hd loading 2 bunks of osb.  i thought before i  came down with the company flatbed i would have to send a trailer down to pick it up. larry

hand me the chainsaw, i need to trim the casing just a hair.

the older i get ,

the more people tick me off

(post #76517, reply #22 of 49)

Some yards have reciprocal agreements about swapping materials when they run out. I've been involved in it myself, and know that it happens.

Some places won't do it though. I know for a fact that one of the big boxes here refused to do it for a lumberyard that I deal with.

So I guess it varies from place to place and yard to yard.

To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions. [Benjamin Franklin]

(post #76517, reply #9 of 49)

i envy you guys that talk about having great lumber yards. around here [wichita ks] there use to be one great lumber yard. when you bought from them you knew you was getting the best around. then the payless,builders square and later lowes and home depot started rolling into town. well the lumber yard started chasing there prices by lowering the quality of their products. well the problem is even though the lumberyard is big it only equals about 2 lowes. so they got their rear kicked.


now when a builder is building a complete house he is going to still use the yard. but if i want a 100 2x4's and 20 pcs of rock i'm better off going to lowes and wheeling one of them dang carts around [whoever came up with that idea outa be shot].i'll save 50 cents a stick and get better wood,plus i can grab anything else i need.


there is a option of a couple small town yards out about 30 miles,that if you need all the framing for a house they are still good yards,just unhandy for smaller stuff. larry


hand me the chainsaw, i need to trim the casing just a hair.

the older i get ,

the more people tick me off

(post #76517, reply #12 of 49)

I do the lumber yard whenever possible. I avoid the BBS whenever possible. Small purchases only and only if it is convenient. I believe in supporting the "little guy".


We can't let the BBS get too powerful.


Dave

(post #76517, reply #13 of 49)

I deal with 2 local lumberyards an and HD.
Quite honestly, the lumber at HD is all under cover and not all that bad. I get to check it for hockey-stick curves.
The lumberyards have the wood under cover but outside, and if I'm there by myself, I can pick. The other yard is full service and I cannot pick (often they will, for me, but not always). Advantage HD.
Tools: HD has lots of selection, but the local yards have better product of a professional level. Even.
Service: Local yards, hands down.
If I need delivery, it's the local yards.

Quality repairs for your home.


AaronR Construction
Vancouver, Canada


 

Quality repairs for your home.

AaronR Construction
Vancouver, Canada

 

(post #76517, reply #14 of 49)

Interesting thread..
I sometimes shop the big box, but historically have preferred shopping the ly (buy local sorta thinking). Knew the desk guys when they were yard kids.
Haven't done anything big enough in a few years to warrant a huge amount of shopping at either, been busy being a super. Never big anyway , maybe 3-4 true customs a yr. been shopping 30 yrs at the same ly.
But when I go to the local yard and find I am paying substantially more for materials or tools than the little box production builder standing next to me I gotta admit I get more than a bit pizzed.
The yard wants my business, but apparently not enough to sell to me at the same price as my outsized competition, and then they have the balls to complain about the big box competition.. Tell me it is all about the volume and margins etc. that my outsized little box building competition does with them etc. That if I want the discounts I gotta buy in volume.
Damn, no shid! Glad to know you finally understand how it feels.
Sorry .. cry me a river, maybe I can float down to the big box on the ly's tears and make up some of the lost margin .
It's the American way ...


Edited 2/27/2007 2:23 am ET by dovetail97128


Life is Good

(post #76517, reply #15 of 49)

many years ago i would purchase lumber strictly from the local yards, i would call my order in and have the material delievered the next day, but they started using me to dump their pick overs and i had material delievered that i was not comfortable using


now i go to home depot or lowes and spend an hour or two and hand pick the material i need, if the lumber or plywood i need for my project is poor quality at one particular store, i go to the next, i like to work with flat sheets of plywood and straight lumber, i do small jobs so i am able to work this way


i would perfer to purchase from the local lumber yard and have the material delievered and even pay more, but it didnt work out

(post #76517, reply #17 of 49)

I've got 2 real good LYs near me that have everything I need for my business, but they don't have everything I need for the rest of my life such as yard stuff, bird seed for the kids bird feeder... crap like that.  So as much as I detest the pathetic service inside the borgs I still use them. 


Good news is that an Ace is opening near me after the other one closed 10ys ago after the borg moved in.  Didn't take long for the borgs to drive the people away & recreate the market for Ace. 

(post #76517, reply #18 of 49)

We've had something interesting happen as a result of people buying their trusses through big box stores.

As you likely know, the boxes don't carry lumber over 16' long. So along with truss orders, people are ordering some 18' or 20' lumber that they need for valley rafters and such.

Don't know that it's any big deal. Just thought it was an interesting development...

Skydiving - good to the last drop.

(post #76517, reply #23 of 49)

PeteDragonic,


 I realize that I'm very much in the minority here but I prefer to use a sawmill for major wood purchases..


      Everytime a board is touched by anyone the cost of that board goes up.. from the sawmill to Homedepot or your local lumberyard there are at least 8 hands to touch it.


  I bought 50,000 board feet of wood for under $20,000 from a local sawmill.  


 


 If I bought the same wood at Home Depot or Youngblood lumber. I could have easily spent well over $180,000.00


 I don't buy tools there either.. 7 corners hardware in St.Paul meets or beats the price offered at Amazon.com and other internet tool places..


     I do buy nails etc. at Home Depot simply because at the volume I buy I don't get the price break to beat their prices..


 However with specialty bolts etc. I found several fastner places that make Home depot look expensive..


 For example I bought 5000 1/2 x 12 inch stainless steel lag bolts for 80 cents each. an 2,000 3/8ths x12 lag bolts for 62 cents each..  


 


            

(post #76517, reply #24 of 49)

Can you buy 2x4's and 2x10's at the sawmill?

 


Jon Blakemore

RappahannockINC.com

Fredericksburg, VA

 

Jon Blakemore

RappahannockINC.com

Fredericksburg, VA

(post #76517, reply #25 of 49)

JonBlakemore,


 Yes, what wood would you like them made from?   the sawmill sells actual not nominal demension wood. So you'd need to order 3 1/2 x 1 1/2's and  1 1/2's x


9 1/2s if you want them the same as the wood used in homes..


     My Sawmill sells me whatever wood I want.  For my 2x12's used as joists I choose tamarack.. I could have had ash or poplar or basswood or pine or a half dozen other woods for the same price..


 Tamarack had a bunch of features going for it plus it's really beautiful wood in it's own right..


  Just so you know A 18 foot long (that is actaully at least 18'6 inches long) 2 inch by 12 inch costs me.  $14.40 today.. when I started it would only cost me $7.20


 If I put together a really big order I can still get those prices..


 I used actaul 2x8's as sub flooring because it's cost for a 4x8 area amounted to $6.40 back then (now it would be $12.80)  Tell me what's the price of a 3/4 inch sheet of plywood nowdays?  (and I love the fact that it's far easier to haul 2x8's then to haul a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood.. Plus it gives you all sorts of options that you don't have with plywood..


 (it's great for hardwood flooring,  I can shoot roofing nails in the bottom of it to hold pex tubing up for in floor radiant heating  without the nails coming thru.. makes installing infloor radiant heat really cheap and easy to do..


  You can get really clever with sawmill lumber.. For example if you can't get enough capacity with the depth of your  joists, you can always order a wide piece and pick up some added strength..


  The second floor 8 inch joists couldn't hold the load so I had a 10x12 made up that would.. The extra two inches became the sub flooring and the width more than tripled the required strength.. It was still cheaper than a glue lam would have been by a ton!


   


 


 


 


   

(post #76517, reply #26 of 49)

Yes, what wood would you like them made from?   the sawmill sells actual not nominal demension wood. So you'd need to order 3 1/2 x 1 1/2's and  1 1/2's x 9 1/2s if you want them the same as the wood used in homes..


But I'm guessing this wood is not grade stamped - so those of us in areas where we have building codes would not be able to use this wood.


How do you design with ungraded lumber, since you don't know the strength or load it will bear?  Use worst case numbers?


 

(post #76517, reply #27 of 49)

Woodturner9


  If you read the UBC and other building codes there is plenty of provision for ungraded wood. If you have one of those nervous nelly building inspectors,, your best defence is know the code backwards and forwards..


 There are parts of the code where if you are well prepared you can  really excell. Plenty of woods out there have superior load capacity than the "western White Woods" with grade stamps.  Besides since most saw mills saw to actual rather than demensional sizes you gain 20% capacity over demensional lumber..  Go in with a few well authored books and use post it's to find the points quickly.  Usually once a building inspector understands that you not only understand the rules but know them better, he will be far more understanding.


  Don't BS, it's not hard to understand or comply properly.  You should never build to minimums whether or not it meets code.  With the potential savings of sawmill wood it's positively foolish to build to minimums.. Frankly if you are building a tract type house don't use sawmill woods..  It's not worth your time..  on the other hand if you're building your own home or a custom home the potential savings and other benefits will easily be worth it..


   

(post #76517, reply #28 of 49)

Woodturner9


    By the way I live in a town where the building codes are extremely rigerously enforced. I did the research and provided my inspector with proper documentation and it's never been an issue in the past 9 years I've been getting permits for my home..

(post #76517, reply #29 of 49)

frenchy,
FWIW, here it would take an engineer to visually inspect and approve the lumber before it is used if it does not bear a grading stamp from an approved agency.
I have been through it with both city and county inspectors here. Their take on it is that it takes the engineer to properly determine the grade of the lumber, and since they have final say that is what it takes.
Obviously some locals may be different on this issue though.


Life is Good

(post #76517, reply #30 of 49)

dovetails97128


   Read building codes.  Timbers have no grade stamp and timberframing is spoken to directly.. in addition you can can find plenty of documentation whereby alternate woods are allowed..


 Read them, don't count on someones thoughts.. there are plenty of authorities to back you up but you have to know, really know the code.. If you know it better than the building inspectors and cite chapter and verse you should be able to convince the most code reliant inspector


      Western white woods have much lower load ratings than say black ash or white oak.. if you use woods like that and use actual rather than demensional wood sizes you should have no real problem..