Eyeing a remodel in the near future? Roughly half the costs of a remodel are for materials, so it pays to be mindful of potential pitfalls. Here are a few tips from the experts: 1. Double check when buying off the shelf. Check the box. Does it look like it has been opened or returned? Don't buy it. Returned items may have damage and missing parts.

2. Get recommendations. A good builder will have established relationships with reps he or she trusts, so use the recommended suppliers if you can. Otherwise ask around for some good suggestions. When all else fails, add 30% to any delivery time frame you're told and build a healthy contingency fund into your budget.

3. Don't assume. A lot of houses are still piped with copper, so repairs and remodeling will generally be done in copper as well. Half-inch copper pipe is 5/8" in diameter, but the thickness of the copper depends on the type. Many stores sell type M and L. Type M is cheaper because it's thinner — but saving money in materials now could mean tearing open walls later to find a pinhole leak that has sprung. Buy quality materials so you don't have to do the work twice.

4. You can't always believe the hype. Some brands spend more on advertising than on making quality products. Do your research and make sure the product you're buying is rated well.

5. Buy local. A good idea for most things, but there are many reasons to buy local and support your region's economy when picking home materials. Make sure to factor in the cost of shipping when pricing out materials. A local vendor will usually not charge extra for shipping, and you can schedule the delivery. Shipments of online purchases can result in headaches if no one is around when a big, heavy delivery shows up. If you are concerned about the environment, the distance a product ships should always be a concern. Bamboo flooring is made from grasses that are rapidly renewable, but if it's coming to you from across the world, a flooring product made close to home might be a greener choice.

6. Buy salvaged. You can often get better-quality building materials with more character for less money by buying salvaged. You will pay more in labor, but once again, this is an opportunity to support your community.

7. Buy extra. "Waste" is the term we use for extra materials ordered, because the cutoffs usually end up as just that (unless they're recycled). The best way to figure out how much waste to order is by following a manufacturer's or installer's recommendations. If you are confident about your measurements and the method of installation, you could get away with ordering 10% more of items like flooring or wall coverings, but 15% waste is a safer bet. If the item is special order, 15% is the minimum, and 20% may make sense depending on the situation.

8. Buy early. Stopping work to wait for materials to arrive is costly. Double the lead time you were told and you'll usually be safe. Delays happen all the time. If the materials are onsite, the contractor can check measurements and answer questions that the spec sheet doesn't address. If you don't want to expose items to theft, store the materials offsite where your general contractor can get to them, but don't try to time material deliveries for the moment they're needed.

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