When we bought our house, we knew that it needed a bit of work. Our house is nicely renovated, but it was built in the 1960s, and had a few issues that were "behind the scenes".
Luckily, with my partner being a carpenter and myself a paranoid schizophrenic, we uncovered the problems before the purchase through several different inspections, tests, and assessments.
Because my partner is a carpenter, we are and were able to do some of the work we needed to do on it, which would normally have been very costly for buyers who weren't as "handy" as we are.
The only thing left for us was the cost of material.
The house had vermiculite insulation in the attic, which tested positive for asbestos. We had that insulation removed, and we needed to re-insulate the attic.
We were looking for R-40 fiber glass insulation, to cover our 580 sq foot attic space.
At the Home Depot, the insulation we were looking for was $64.80/bag, which covered 48 sq feet. We would need 12 bags, which would cost $876.96 with tax.
The almost $900 insulation job left me with a bad taste in my mouth, so I turned to Craigslist for insulation. It is not unusual for contractors to sell of building supplies for a lower price on Craigslist, because they bought too much or decided to change directions mid-project.
There were two people selling the exact insulation that we needed on Craigslist.
One was selling R-40 for $41.95/bag, which covered almost 43 sq feet. We would have needed 14 bags, which would have cost us $587.30.
Another ad was for R-40 for $26.50/bag, which covered 32 sq feet, meaning we would need 18 bags for our attic. This would have costed us a total of $480.31.
We, of course, bought the 18 bags at $26.50. It was the exact same product, but for almost half the price.
We saved $396.65 by buying off of Craigslist instead of a large retailer. Lowes was slightly less expensive than Home Depot but our house is nowhere near a Lowes and the gas and time to buy from Lowes would put it at par with the Home Depot.
One of the other projects we have to do is a re-shingle of our roof. It's old and worn out and runs the risk of leaking.
We negotiated $5,000 to re-do the roof when we purchased the house. My partner can do the roof himself, but we need to purchase the material.
We found the exact amount of roofing we need on Craigslist for $780 (in the best color, too). With the manufacturer, we would have had to pay $30/bundle (we need 52 bundles) plus tax. With tax, we would have paid $1747.20 with the manufacturer of these exact shingles, but these ones are $780 - no tax, because it's off of Craigslist.
This saves us almost $1000.
The seller also had some other material that we needed to do the roof, like roofing felt. We were raking in the savings.
Before buying any big ticket items, check your local classifieds first. We needed new material for both of our big jobs, and we succeeded in getting brand new material for substantially less than retail.