Steve Binley, Regional Manager at Buildbase, gives his top five tips on how to get the most out of working with builders’ merchants.
1. Keep an open mind
While housebuilders often know exactly what they want, by having an open mind they can be pleasantly surprised. Keep your options open when dealing with a merchant and you will have a better chance of achieving greater cost and energy efficiencies. Use a merchant’s experience of the market to compare materials on your behalf. As well as recommending alternative products and brands they can review your drawings and make suggestions on specifications too.
2. Take advantage of take-off services
Talk to your merchant about any take-off services they may provide. Experts will itemise and quantify the materials required for your project with a fully-costed proposal. If a fee is charged this is usually refunded against materials purchased. This service can save you time and money as well as reduce any additional expense from using a quantity surveyor.
“Whether you are building two or two hundred houses, getting a builders’ merchant involved during the early stages of a project can help pave the way for cost, time and energy savings as well as ensuring a well-managed site.”
3. Make introductions
Put your merchant in touch with your operational colleagues. This means that they can liaise directly to ensure products are delivered and available in a timely manner. This will enable them to help control the flow of materials going on to a site, such as avoiding over-crowding a location with bricks before the footings are dug.
Don’t just think of a builders’ merchant as a place to source bricks and blocks. Talk to your merchant about the full extent of what they can offer. For example, at Buildbase we continue to roll-out specialist operations within our branches and many share sites with Plumbase, ensuring building professionals have everything they need under one roof. We have Hirebase for hiring machinery, such as diggers and dumpers. Electricbase is a fully-functioning electrical wholesaler and this year we launched Paintbase, providing an extensive painting and decorating materials solution.
These specialist operations are in-house, so really take the one-stop-shop ethos to a new level. We can also send plans to specialist lintel manufacturers and some of our branches have kitchen and bathroom showrooms, so housebuilders can look at the different designs in-situ or take their customers along with them. By tapping into the entirety of your merchants’ offering, they can co-ordinate and deliver from one account, delivering greater time and cost savings.
5. Bespoke materials
It’s a fallacy to assume that merchants are stuck to a rigid catalogue of materials. Talk to them about your project and they will often be able to support with the most up-to-date products and new innovations, encompassing an almost infinite range. Bespoke materials are usually part of an offering. For example, we offer a brick matching service, specific renewable energy and innovative heating solutions, made-to-measure windows and some branches have the facilities to cut timber to specific requirements on-site.
Steve Binley is Regional Manager at Buildbase www.buildbase.co.uk