Lumber Package: Building Material Orders

The lumber package is the meat and potatoes of a projects building materials. The carpentry supplies for your entire structure are in this order. This will include basic lumber, beams, columns, simpsons straps, ties, fasteners and possibly even trusses. It can cost 10's of thousands of dollars and the bids between suppliers may differ by thousands thousands of dollars. This means that you may save several thousands of dollars simply by shopping around. Every dollar you save on the front end of construction means a dollar extra you may be able to spend on nice finish (upgraded flooring, fixtures, countertops, cabinets, etc.)

There are usually several lumber yards, even in a small community. Go to all of them. Inquire about seperate bids with trusses and without. There are truss companies that will bid your project independently. In addition, ask about other areas of the project they might want to bid on. This may include cabinets, trim carpentry material and hardware, windows, roofing material, and even flooring. Be sure to pursue independent bids in these areas but you may accomplish an overall savings if you bundle your material order.

The lumber yard or home improvement warehouse should be able to guarantee some type of delivery. Ask them what lead time( days in advance to order) they need for delivery of the building material to the jobsite. Note any lead time on your schedule. Check your schedule daily for those type of alerts and your project will run more smoothly. Have the lumber delivered 2-3 days after the concrete is poured. This allows the concrete contractor to remove any material they need to and allows a few days for the slab to cure. Be certain to have the grading contractor "spin off" the lot prior to lumber delivery.

Additional Material

The owner builder should be aware, the initial lumber package is rarely complete. That is to say, additional material will be needed for order. Shortages can occur for a number of reasons. There may be a miscalculation during take-offs. Perhaps there is excessive waste ( the framers are cutting 10 ft 2X4's to make 8 ft studs when 8 footers are already pre-cut, etc. ). Sometimes there is inventory shrinkage; neighbors taking a few boards here and there for home projects, workers doing the same. Of course, there are also changes that the owner builder may decide on during the construction process, for instance adding pot shelves or framing accents. It may even be that portions of the lumber package were missing from the delivery.

One thing that can be done to prevent shortages is to conduct an immediate inventory of the lumber delivered. Keep the itemized sales reciept and use it to make sure the construction material delivered matches the package that was paid for. It is best for the owner builder to conduct the inventory, since it is his or her money that is on the line. Have the carpenter follow up with their own inventory.

The owner can go to the local hardware store, home improvement warehouse or lumber yard to pick up any additional material or have the framer do it. On the occasion that a large amount of material is needed, or a bigger item, a glue lam beam for instance, contact the lumber yard and have it delivered. If the framing contractor has been sent to do this, they must be reimbursed for the material cost, PLUS time and gas. Traveling to the supplier constitutes work outside of their contract in most cases and adds to estimated time on your project. Basically, it cuts into their profit margin.

The framers depend on timely delivery of lumber and trusses.


Roof and floor trusses are another integral item in the structure of the home. Trusses are engineered to hold tremendous loads. They can vary in strength based on area projected snow loads, pitch of roof and roofing material. Concrete roof tiles on a low pitch roof are far heavier on a truss than roof shingles on a high pitch roof. This would require truss engineers to design and much stronger truss. The heavier the truss, the more expensive the truss package. Keep this in mind when determining your roof design.

Take your completed plans to several local truss companies. It usually takes them about a week to analyze your blueprints and design a truss system to fit your requirements. Because these systems are engineered and the truss company takes on considerable liability for their performance, you can normally trust the design. Base your decision to award on price and ability to deliver the product. It's no good to award a truss contract to a company that cannot guarantee you will have your material to the jobsite when required by the framing crews. You cannot afford to lose a framing crew because the material doesn't show up on time.

For more information on trusses, view our Roof Trusses page.