As a owner builder, one of the first  take off’s you will need to get is for the lumber package.   Most lumber yard’s will not charge you for this service.  I only had one that wanted to charge us and that was one of the big box stores.   You will submit your blueprints to the lumber yard and they will work up a bid for a lumber package.  This is a time consuming process for them, so be patient.   Getting a take off for the lumber package is an area that you will want to get at least three bids.  Once you get the estimates back, compare them.    Don’t just assume the one with the cheapest total cost is the best one to go with.   In our case, there was about a $10,000 difference between the cheapest and the most expensive take off.    However, as I began to compare line items, I quickly realize that the most expensive was actually cheaper.   The lumber yard with the cheaper bid  was trying to entice me with the lower total price.  I guess they did not think I would look at how much each item was costing me and that their take off was missing a lot of material.    

Though price will play an important part, you will also want to find a sales rep that you are comfortable with.  The gentleman that we went with, had came highly recommended by the guy who did our blueprints.  Though, his take off  was the most expensive,  he assured us that he had calculated everything that we would need to frame the house.    He took the time answer all of my questions and did not brush me off because I was not one of his “regulars”.    When we had finished framing the house, the lumber yard came and picked up all the extra material and issued a credit.    

  • Get at least three estimates
  • Compare line items
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the sales rep questions.   
  • Check out  their return policy.