There are several factors to consider before buying construction materials. This calls for proper planning before doing the purchasing. Poor material management can result in large and avoidable loss in terms of time and money during construction.
Decisions about material procurement may also be required at the planning and scheduling stages. Proper planning and material management can be divided into several parts.
1. Planning the purchase of materials.
This, would of necessity, require help from a qualified and experienced person. He/she will majorly consider the scope of the project.
He/she should take your preference into consideration and building by laws must be taken into account.
The planning should follow a critical path; always buy materials according to need.
Below are some questions that need to be answered in planning materials purchase.
• What are you purchasing?
• Where will it be used and at what stage?
• Where will the items be bought from?
• What is the quantity required?
• Most important what is the cost of the item?
• Is there a secure storage place on site?
2. How to Shop for materials.
The cost of a house directly depends on your source of materials; the finesse and workmanship of a project depends on the quality of materials.
When buying materials you should make sure you get them from reliable, honest suppliers. There are as many bad suppliers as are good ones. It is the duty of the purchaser to make sure he uses reliable sources; inquire where and how to get the right quality and quantity of materials.
When procuring items for construction, the cost is as important as quality and quantity. A balance of the three should be achieved for a successful purchase.
How do you make sure you buy the right materials without paying more than the required price?
Before you buy anything, make a list of what you want and photocopy it.
• Visit different hardware stores and put down their prices against your list.
• Use one copy per hardware and note down the name of the store on top of the list.
You will be shocked at the differences in pricing for the same item of same quality and quantity. The interesting thing is that the stores may be located within the same street or even the same building!
Shopping for materials is very tedious and time consuming but a shilling saved here and there throughout the construction period can add up into hundreds of thousands or millions.
3. Purchasing Materials.
Once you have identified the hardware store of your choice, on the day of purchase make sure you have the correct quantity, the right size and the right quality.
If you do not know how to identify the correct quantity and quality then get services of a qualified and experienced person to help you.
It is important to buy the correct items to avoid wasting time returning the wrong items bought and also to avoid using the wrong materials when building.
Note:Materials of good quality mean a house whose structure is sound and is of good aesthetics.
Ascertain the quantity of materials bought. This has a direct bearing on overall cost of the project, keeps costs in check and avoids time wasting.
Remember, the quality of workmanship starts with the choice of materials bought.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to get genuine items in hardware stores. Extreme care should be taken not to be duped into buying fake items, they will not last long and keep in mind the saying ‘cheap is expensive’.
4. Securing materials and controlling the use on site.
After spending enormous amount of money and time purchasing materials, securing them on site becomes another serious challenge. Theft of materials on site is a common problem. This can be through outright robbery by gangs of outlaws or by workers at different levels of management; either directly or in collusion with outsiders.
The items can also be stolen from site or before they reach the site normally through collusion with hardware store’s staff. It’s an arrangement that is done when a client pays for materials with arrangement that the items be delivered to the site. The builder can ask the store staff to deliver less materials and the balance is shared between the two in form of money.
The casual workers (fundis and their assistants) also participate but normally for small items that can be hidden in their clothes or bags; items easy to carry. Materials are also stolen at night by people given the responsibility of guarding them.
5. How to secure materials on site.
Have a store keeper with known record of honesty and has good record keeping skills.
The store keeper should be employed by the developer especially where the developer is buying the materials. He is answerable to him.
Have only one person (storekeeper) issue and receive items in the store.
Items on site should be counted everyday after work and every morning.
Items delivered should be counted and verified by storekeeper and contractor or any authorized person.
The workers should be searched /frisked at the gate anytime they go out of the site.
Delivery notes and receipts should be issued and filed properly.
Don’t buy materials in large quantities; in as much as you save when you buy in bulk, you also make the site attractive to thieves especially at night. It is also easy to count and check small quantities of materials.
6. Controlling material use.
It is monitoring of quantity used on a daily basis as per required specification to avoid wastage. The right quantity and quality of materials should be used in each and every stage.
The Store keeper should have an inventory of what has been delivered on site and by whom. He should have a daily book where he notes down items or tools issued out.
At the end of a day’s work, the store keeper or foreman should see to it that tools used are washed, cleaned and returned to store in good condition.
Plumbing and electrical items should be stored in separate sections within the store.
Safety of the store should be observed by properly storing items. Unauthorized entry of the store should not be allowed.
Items should be stored in compartments or shelves with the items that are frequently used easily accessible and those that are less used stored out of site.
A good store should be built of masonry wall with a properly reinforced roof especially those that are locked after work.
Other situations may call for building of an iron sheet walled store. It is advisable in such cases to have a room where the caretaker of the site can be staying to take care of materials at night.