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New House Building: Money Saving, Convenience and Healthy House Tips
James Todd
May 2003, Happy Memorial Day

Home Construction Energy Rebates

Beginning with the April 2002 edition, newsletters are now archived
online at:


1. What is Energy Star and how can it save you money?
2. BoneYards are not Just for Canines.
    Guest article, by Chris McMinn, Professional Cost Analyst
3. Useful Links
4. Thought for the Day
5. Subscription Information

Please forward this newsletter to anyone whom you think may be interested!

1. Energy Star


ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy to power 10 million homes and avoid greenhouse gas emissions from 12 million cars - all while saving $6 billion.

However when it comes to building your new home, not only can
Energy Star appliances save you money by lowering your utilities bills for years to come, but the Energy Star program can save you money now —today— on the purchase of new appliance. Many manufacturers, partnering with the government’s Energy Star program offer generous rebates for the purchase of many different types of appliances. If you go to the following page on the Energy Star website and enter you zip code, the available rebates will be displayed.

In addition to the Energy Star program, most local electric and gas utilities offer rebates for more energy efficient appliances. Unfortunately there is no ONE place you can go to find these. You will have to do some research on the Internet for your own local utility— and perhaps even make a phone call.

For example, here is one website which covers the State of California.

If you search only under the category of residential rebates there are 212 at the time this newsletter is being written.

Every state does not have such a website, but with a little work, you should be able to find a website for your State or utility company that lists available rebate programs.

Lastly here is another website that lists rebates for alternative energy sources. Many of these are far afield for a conventional home but you may find something of interest


How big of a house are you going to build?? Find out what size of mortgage for which you qualify. IndyMac Bank is your best online source for home mortgages. Online applications, quick approvals.

Don’t let your credit history become a headache in your new home building process. Check your credit. Get your free credit report today.

Considering a Hot Tub in your new Home?? Look no further. ThermoSpas Hot Tubs are offering up to $900.00 in cost savings discounts for House-N-Home-Building visitors.

Dream Home Source, Inc.- Search through over 12,400 professionally-designed stock house plans, from over 82 of North America's top architects and designers. Easy and fun to search for that "dream home".


2. Bone Yards are not Just for Canines

This article is excerpted from one of Mr. Chris McMinn’s books. McMinn & Associates are professional cost analysts and consultants. They review and analyze a large range of residential and commercial construction projects, applying the same methods and techniques of cost engineering to residential construction projects as they do for their commercial customers.

If you are looking for a professional cost consultant, we encourage you to contact Chris. If you are looking for written Guide to many of the same issues Chris points out, we encourage you to take a look at the House-N-Home Building Guide.

Continued from April… (Click or paste link below to read April’s)

Rather than fix your sights on an exact make of door/window/appliance or whatever, be willing to accommodate some alternatives. Experience teaches that most manufacturers within a given price range tend to produce similar products, even as they work very hard to try and convince you, the consumer, that their product is absolutely unique and far better than any thing else on the market.

Being flexible within certain boundaries is essential if you wish to be a successful "boneyarder." Yes, you can hang on for a particular make/style, but if that's your final decision, be prepared to look for a l-o-n-g time. On the other hand, once you realize that products by different manufacturers may look almost identical and will make no significant difference to your finished project, you have grasped one of the key elements of discount buying.

Naturally, you will need to study the contents of each boneyard, making a note of the manufacturer, style, hardware and so forth. But when you find a really close match, or can place one window on a landing, and another in the bathroom, clinch the deal with cash. Make an offer at around 20% of the new price. If you don't know what windows/doors/appliances and fixtures cost new, go back to a regular lumber yard and do some more homework. You need a clear idea of what that unit would sell for "retail." Before you shake on a price, enquire about warranties. Usually the seller will honor the manufacturer's guarantee, but sometimes the products will be sold in "as is" condition. This requires some thought. Ask more questions like: is this product still being manufactured? (usually the answer is no). Are parts available? How do I get it serviced? But ask these questions after you agree on a price. If you sound too reluctant, or too exacting up front, the price will go up. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the seller. He (or she) has products they really want to sell. The quicker and easier they can do that, the better. Present yourself as an easy customer up front, and you'll get better prices. Then make discreet further enquiries about all the other items just mentioned.

Over the years I have never had any problems with warranty issues or parts availability. In fact, I bought a whole house load of windows many years ago from a reputable builder's yard, (and paid full price for them), only to be told a few months later the manufacturer filed bankruptcy and the entire plant was liquidated—no parts, service or warranty. That's why, when you begin to shop the boneyards, stick with established, reputable businesses. They  want you as a repeat customer; they want to sell off their surplus stock, plus they want to build an expanding marketing base, which includes good relationships, service and so on.

If you get stuck with repairs or problems, go back to the original manufacturer. Most of the time they will have a representative in your area who will go out of his way to provide you with service. This is why it will help you enormously to research the products you need in advance. Make sure you find out how long different manufacturers have been in business. Avoid new start-ups and local operations with short business histories. At the same time, if you have a local manufacturer in your area, make sure you pay them a visit. They will have an excellent boneyard.

Numerous lumber yards and wood related manufacturing facilities can be found within thirty miles of where I live. I've visited them all and found wonderful deals—all sorts of good stuff just sitting in their yards: plywood, lumber, beams, trusses... They practically fell over me when I asked if I could take some of that stuff off their hands.

Another point to consider: the best time to shop boneyards is when construction in your area is at an all time low. Things get very quiet around Christmas time and January. Business owners are looking at bills, taxes, and a stagnant inventory. In you come with cash. They will do anything to see at least some sales to cover that crushing weight of overhead. But, if you turn up in the middle of the summer boom, or whenever construction really cranks in your area, don't expect red carpet treatment. Again, plan ahead. Take full advantage of local economic cycles.

How many building suppliers have boneyards? Just about all of them. They may call it surplus, over stock, returns, rejects, obsolete, but you can find this material everywhere: roofing companies, masonry yards, fireplace manufacturers, tile stores, paint suppliers, plumbing wholesalers... practically anything you can think of will end up somewhere in a boneyard. You will find more material in the strictly wholesale companies than in those stores whose primary source of revenue is retail sales. Geared as they are for consumers, they usually handle returns and overstocks far more effectively than the mass merchandisers of specialty products. So this is where you need to look. Find the biggest wholesale plumbing supply warehouse in town. Walk into their yard and ask them if they have surplus, leftover stock they cannot sell. That's where you find the twenty five dollar tubs and $200 dollar Jacuzzis.

It takes time to develop a "feel" for boneyard shopping. For many of you, the idea will be brand new. But don't be shy. Those suppliers want to shift that material; they'll take cash and be pleased you arrived. You in turn will save a lot of money.

The list that follows includes the most commonly available building products found in boneyards. Start with your local yellow pages and check them all out. I've bought material from every one of my local suppliers in the areas specified. The most I paid was about 60% of normal building supply yard's prices (for appliances, lumber and hardware). On average, I bought the majority of these supplies at something like 30% of their original cost.


Plumbing fixtures,
Light fixtures,
Roofing material,
Floor coverings,
Masonry products,
Assorted lumber.

As you search around, you may locate other boneyards. I've bought structural steel (occasionally) but this tends to be a specialized item. I've sometimes found great deals on pre-mixed concrete, but only because a price war was going on, or I happened to call when someone had a batch of concrete previously ordered, and then cancelled. As long as you grasp the essential principle: that a vast array of building material will be sold at tremendous discount prices, you know enough to find out where it is. There are many other sources we haven't begun to explore, but boneyards represent a reliable, renewable resource. They work, and deliver consistent results. Do your homework well: define what you need and allow plenty of time to search for specific products. When you find a great deal—keep it quiet.

One other consideration, when it comes time to look for floor coverings. You will soon find yourself sifting through remnant sales. Sometimes you can find good prices, but I've had more success with the large carpet merchants. Find the biggest one you can in your area, or even in a nearby city, then ask them if they have any special purchases, one-of-a-kind rolls, odd dye lots, cancellations... Sometimes you have to be persistent. Try to work with just one salesperson and get to know them. I regularly locate new carpet for between $5 and $10 per yard, sometimes extremely good material, simply by regularly calling and checking with one particular contact I have. Get the lowest quote you can find, then call the next carpet company and tell them you're looking at a purchase of so much a square yard. Do they have anything that can beat it? Carpet sellers keep far more stock on hand than they may display or post prices on. Sometimes a motivated buyer with an enticing offer will persuade them to offer you those "boneyard specials" they keep for their favorite customers, which could be you.

Copyright © 2002 C. S. McMinn

3. Useful Links

The following are useful links relating to the housing industry may be of interest.

U.S Governments Energy Star Program

Tauton Publishing – This company publishes Fine Home Building Magazine. In addition it has many other related guides and links on its website that may be of help when building you new home

B4Ubuild – This site has a very detailed residential construction timeline. Although it is very thorough, it is also quite overwhelming unless you build houses for a living. That is why we continue to recommend that you use a builder, and save money by using some of the tips in the House N Home Building Guide.

4. Thought For The Day - Courage

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.
--Mark Twain

5. Subscription Information
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