Home Improvement: Surprising Places for Great Deals

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

When shopping for larger home improvement items, price outside the box. While the do-it-yourself option seems to be the most frugal, that's not always the case. Expecting to find the best deal at a large home improvement store rather than a specialized dealer is also a false assumption. Bargains aren't always in the expected places.


Expect the Unexpected

Large home improvement stores advertise great deals. Bathroom tiles are $1.50 each when kitchen and bath stores charge $8 per tile. However, the home improvement stores don't advertise their installation and prices for other supplies. After comparing quotes for a tiled bathroom floor, the smaller specialized tile store came in nearly $200 less than the larger "discount" store. Here's why:

  • The larger store charged a high hourly rate for installation
  • Meanwhile, the tile store charged a flat fee for installation.
  • The large store overpurchased additional supplies. In addition to extra bags of grout, the store added two additional boxes of tiles, in case of breakage.
  • The larger store special ordered items like the threshold.
  • The smaller store kept those items in stock and offered them at a low rate.

In addition, the smaller store offered a better product once examined. The tiles sold for $1.50 were screen printed tiles, meaning the design was printed on the tile and covered with clear sealer. The $8 tiles were true Italian tiles. On top of that, the smaller tile store offered a much more lucrative warranty and set up delivery and installation dates weeks before the home improvement store guaranteed delivery.


The Bottom Line

Often the do-it-yourself approach isn't the cheapest either. Obviously if specialized tools are needed, rental or purchasing fees are exorbitant. Yet, even the accomplished handy homeowner might save money on a prefabricated product. Take storage sheds as an example

Shed kits are sold at most home improvement stores. These somewhat do-it-yourself kits have precut pieces and directions for building the storage shed. However, in addition to the kit, roofing materials and foundation blocks are needed as well as nails and other smaller items. When pricing, a shed kit that cost $499 actually would cost nearly $900 by the time all the supplies were purchased to completely built it (plus a weekend's work assembling it).

Meanwhile, a prefabricated or delivered shed seemed much more expensive. The same size shed as the kit cost $999 as a prefabricated shed. However, once totaling the cost of the kit, the prefabricated shed wasn't much more. These types of sheds, whether they are delivered completely built or delivered in large pieces and assembled by professionals in a few hours, are all-inclusive. The $999 price tag includes foundation blocks, a roof, and all delivery and installation charges. On top of that, the company offered a reasonable financing option.


In addition to the shed delivery, prefabricated sheds offer additional add-ons such as storage shelves and ramps. Adding up the needed supplies to build a six foot entrance ramp to the shed, it would cost approximately $80. The company would install one with the shed for $100. How can the prices be so close?

  • The professionals who install the shed can purchase supplies for ramps and roofs wholesale and in bulk
  • Being delivered as prefabricated, the sheds can be built quickly and efficiently with little waste product. The packaged kits require more organization and packaging to deliver.
  • The prefabrication company offers the financing plan in hopes that customers purchase larger sheds than planned. Stay within your original budget and take advantage of buy now pay later offers to save on finance charges.

Should one ignore the ads that appear on the television and head to the high-end specialty shop in hopes of a deal? No. It is the consumer's responsibility to price various suppliers for home improvements and decide which offers the best deal. Just remember; deals often lurk in unsuspected locations.

tiles and plans

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January 20, 20090 found this helpful

It's nice to support smaller businesses.

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