10 Ways to Get Free or Cheap Building Materials

Whether you’re looking to build or remodel a tiny house, earthship, a full-sized house, or any other type of home, it’s no secret that building materials never come cheap. Sometimes, the cost can add up to an alarming number and put you at risk of abandoning your project altogether.

What most contractors don’t tell you, however, is that your bank account doesn’t have to run dry to make your dream home work out.

One of the best ways you can lower the overall cost of home building or home remodeling is by sourcing your own materials. But if you’re not a contractor and you’re unfamiliar with construction terms, how will you know how to get the best building materials and where to find them?

Well, don’t fret. In this article, we’ll show you 10 ways to get free or cheap building materials for your new home project. From common materials like wood pallets to glass sheets and door frames, this article will guide you through some quick tips on the best ways to find them. With luck, your remodeling may not cost as much as you’ve previously accounted for and still look as great as you’ve expected for it to be. 

1. Look Through Social Media Marketplaces or Free Groups

Social media marketplaces like Facebook markets or Facebook groups are a great place to begin your hunt for building materials. Very often, people may be looking to get rid of the items in their homes, so you’ll find a great bargain for what is being offered.

Unfortunately, there’s also a misconception that hand hand-me-down materials aren’t as good as new. While this may sometimes be true, the great thing about purchasing them off social media marketplaces is that you could always arrange to meet the sellers and examine the materials first. This will help ensure you’re getting a good deal for the material or item you’re looking to buy.

Subsequently, there are a variety of Facebook groups that you can join for free. Most times, these Facebook groups have been set up so the community can share what they already have. From building pallets to furniture and appliances, there’s no limit to what you could find in these Facebook groups.

If you’re looking for something specific, you could also set up a post to ask for them or seek opinions on where you can find them for cheap. Facebook groups are also a great way for you to gather extra information from people who may have completed the same home building or remodeling project as you.

2. Visit Local Garage Sales Around Your Neighborhood

When you hear of garage sales, you may think of all the unwanted possessions a family has. What you wouldn’t guess, however, is that garage sales may be where you can find the next best building material for your home project for cheap.

Because the sellers are keen to be rid of the materials they have, it’s always easier to haggle and find unexpected bargains at garage sales. If you’re finding it difficult to locate a garage sale, looking out for yard sales or garage sale posts on Facebook and any other social media sites may be your best help.

Just be sure to drive a large vehicle when you’re on your way because you never know the size of the items you may find for your new home.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the materials you plan to bring home, it may also be a good idea to invite your contractor along with you on your trip.

This will help reduce the possibilities of you purchasing any goods that you can’t use for your home build or remodeling. Where possible, you’ll also want to prepare some measurements of the space you have for the appliance or materials you’re looking for.

This could save you time and money during your trip, as you’ll know for sure if your new purchase could fit right in your home.

3. Demolition Listings or Moving Sales Can Be Your Best Friend

Demolition listings can be found when a homeowner is looking to demolish their homes to rebuild from scratch. Before they can do this, however, they must first find ways to clear their homes of building materials, goods, and appliances.

From tiles to wood panels or even windows and doors, demolition listings are your best friends when you’re looking to get building materials on a budget.

Do keep in mind though, that sourcing for materials from demolition listings may often require you to hire your own manpower to remove the items from the original home before you can take it back. Therefore, it’s good to have your contractor on board with the way you’re sourcing your materials, so they can help you with the necessary dismantling and re-assembly when you’re done.

Similarly, moving sales listings often offer building materials or other home remodeling goods for cheap or free. This is especially if the homeowners are looking to leave the state or country, and they’re looking for ways to help recuperate financially.

Like demolition listings, moving sales will also require your personal manpower to move materials such as lumber, pallets, or glass. Hence, you should always include your contractor in the process of sourcing for materials from moving sales.

4. Set up a Barter System

Setting up a barter system is also a good way to find building materials for cheap or even free.

If you have a set of skills that you could use to help your family, friends, or neighbors, do offer it to them in exchange for any skills or materials they have. You’ll be amazed at how much assistance you can find when you ask.

Don’t be discouraged even if you don’t get materials back – maybe they’ll have information on where to procure the materials you’ll need.

Furthermore, bartering may also help you get rid of what you won’t need, minus the costs to haul them away. This creates a win-win situation for both you and who you’re trading with, and before you know it, maybe you’ll even forge a meaningful friendship from this project.

5. Don’t Be Shy to Ask for Help

When you’re looking for building material for cheap or free, a good thing to do is to simply ask. This is a great tip if you’re hunting down specific materials that not everyone may have to offer, and you’ll never know who could come to your aid.

Putting up a post on your social media channels is a convenient way to seek the materials you’ll need, and occasionally it may even remind your friends and family of the materials they have but don’t want anymore.

Subsequently, you could also ask your loved ones for recommendations on where to find the materials you seek for cheap. If your family happens to know the people operating the stores, you may even score a surprise discount to help add to the list of your savings.

Remember that the key is always to ask because you’ll never know what you’ll be given.

6. Shop at Discounted and Reduced to Clear Sections

While visiting popular hardware stores doesn’t sound like a great way to find free or cheap building materials, you’ll be surprised to find some hidden gems in their reduced to clear sections.

Stores are regularly switching up their materials for newer offerings, so looking up these discounted areas is a great way to save you some bucks. Some customers may also get picky – rejecting any items that have been mildly scratched or dented, forcing these big stores to sell these items for cheap.

If you’re not overly fussy about the condition of the building materials, you may be on your way to score some great goods for cheap.

Thus, the next time you visit any hardware stores, be sure to look out for these reduced to clear sections for some cheap building materials. They’re often hidden around the back aisles of a store, or if you ask a friendly staff, they’ll be happy to guide you to the right path.

As most discounted items are often not valid for returns or exchanges, you must look through the materials carefully before making a purchase. If you think you can repair the nicks and dings, buying discounted materials will surely add up to your savings in the long run.

7. Visit Construction Sites for Extras or Unwanted Materials

Before heading out to buy new building materials, you could also visit construction sites to find any extra or unwanted materials. Building parts such as wood, glass, or tiles may come in extras, and if you stop to ask the contractors nicely, they may give them to you for free.

This saves them the effort of having to discard the materials and saves you money, making it a win for both parties. Sometimes, contractors may even tell you when they’ll have more materials for you so you can come back another day for them.

For example, if they expect to put up windows on a Wednesday, you could always re-visit the construction site on Thursday to see if they have any discarded materials.

However, do ensure that you’re visiting the construction site with care and wear proper attire such as covered shoes or hard hats to avoid getting hurt in any accidents.

It’s also not recommended to trespass the area without explicit permission, so instead of stepping into the site without a permit, it’s recommended to first speak with the contractors standing outside the construction site or seek their manager’s permission to see if you could look around for unwanted materials.

8. Look Around Unexpected Areas

If you’re looking for basic materials such as wooden pallets or metal frames, it might be a good idea to check unexpected areas such as the back alleys or disposal spots of furniture or hardware shops, or even supermarkets.

These shipping materials often come along with delivered goods, so the stores will always have extras to discard. Although some digging through may be necessary, crawling through these unexpected areas will be a great way for you to find building materials for free.

To help make your hunt easier, you could also try to befriend any of the staff from these stores who can help keep the materials you need or find out when their delivery days are.

This will save you time from having to guess when they’ll have these materials available for your home building or remodeling needs. Remember that different materials may be disposed of separately, so you’ll have to look through a variety of disposal spots around the area if you’re following this tip.

9. Ask for Discounts on Bulk Buys or Cash Buys

For some homeowners, building their sanctuary with hand-me-downs or discarded materials may feel uncomfortable. If you’re keen to build your home only with new materials that you’ve purchased, one way to help save some money is to ask if the stores could offer bulk buy discounts.

Very often, neighborhood stores will be happy to offer you a small chunk off your bill when you’re purchasing in volumes. This is a great way to establish a relationship with the store owners as well, as you’ll never know when you need to return for some extra material to improve your home along the way.

If you could afford it, you could also ask for a discount on cash buys. Some store owners would often prefer cash purchases over card buys and may offer you a large discount when you pay with cash. While this is mostly true for neighborhood material stores, it’s always worth a try even with any well-known stores in the industry.

After all, the worst thing that could happen when you ask is that they will say no, but you’ll never know how much you can save if they do decide to help out.

Subsequently, if you’ve been rejected on discounts for the material, you could always then ask for a deal on the delivery fee. Often, store owners would find ways to keep you happy, and delivery fees on bulk buys can rack up easily. Just be sure to sound nice about it because a little smile can go a long way in your home building journey.

10. Save Money on Mistake Orders from Manufacturers or Stores

Depending on your willingness to mix and match your home building, you could always source out manufacturers and stores to find their mistake orders. As its name suggests, these are orders that are often new but are not usable as they may have made a blunder when ordering them.

With luck, you may even be able to procure these materials at cost price or lower. This is as manufacturers or stores will find various ways to sell away these materials instead of leaving them in their warehouses.

Subsequently, you could always visit the manufacturer or the store’s warehouse to find such deals. Although you’ll occasionally end up with mismatched materials such as wooden windows to a steel door, the uniqueness of these combinations will often bring out a different vibe to your new home.

If you’re unsure about the materials that can or can’t work together, you may consider bringing along your contractors or interior designers while scurrying for these materials. Remember that it’s the little savings that add up, and if you’re building a home from scratch, this could go a long way for your home project.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, finding building materials to make a home from scratch or to help with your home remodeling doesn’t always have to be expensive. With a little help from the community, you can make your dream home into a reality for a lower price.

Getting help from your friends, family, or even off social media groups is a great way to help you find the best materials with your project, so don’t be shy to ask for assistance when you need it. Very often, contractors would also be glad to lend a hand to find you the best building materials if you share your dream home visions with them.

Of course, these tips are not just limited to building material procurement for homes. In many cases, you may also use these tips to find cheap or free materials for your treehouses, sheds, or other home improvement projects you can think of.

Remember that asking for help is always key to creating your perfect home, so don’t be shy to reach out whenever you need a hand. If you’re concerned about the quality and condition of hand-me-down materials, you could always run it through a series of treatments before putting them to use.

And don’t forget to give back. Next time you have something that you no longer use, consider if it would be useful to others.

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