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This weekend was jam-packed with projects dotted all over the house: entryway touch-ups, more kitchen cabinet door hanging, garage fixes, and even a little yard work mixed in (my allergies have yet to forgive me, but for the first time ever, I actually enjoyed mowing the yard. Only took four years.). I guess when you’ve got a to-do list as long as I do and a limited amount of time to get them done, you pick up motivation where you can to just keep working wherever you happen to be standing. More on each of those as the week progresses, but I wanted to share something I learned over the weekend that you may find super useful:

When in doubt, ask for a discount. Do it. Just ASK.

Let’s back up a tiny bit: remember this little catastrophe-turned-good news over the winter?

hole in ceiling

Quick recap: I wake up one random morning and notice a slight mildewy odor and drip in my unfinished primary bath; after simply touching the valve (heck, grazing it even) where the drip is coming from, the damn thing breaks off in my hand and water goes spraying across the room. It was like being stuck in a bad Ben Stiller movie (in that I’m comically soaked from head to toe in less than thirty seconds while water pours into my newly repainted laundry room, and my feeble attempts to jam the valve back on seem hopeless, irritating, and really not all that funny). Once I’d managed to stop the monsoon, shut off the water to the house, and get a plumber over to check for a possible frozen pipe situation, I learned that I was in the clear. No busted pipe, just a re-tightening of the valve needed. But of course, I still had a gaping hole in my garage ceiling thanks to getting rid of the hanging, wet drywall panel (we chose to just yank it down off of the old, rusted nails rather than dry it out and re-attach it).

hole in ceiling

And that brings us to the present day. After more than sufficient time to let things air out (aka pure laziness & an unwillingness to do anything until it warmed up in the uninsulated garage), I asked dear ol’ Dad if we could use his truck to pick up some replacement drywall. And that’s how we found ourselves at Lowes on Sunday morning.

buying drywall

We needed a full panel at almost exactly ten feet, but drywall panels come in 8- and 12-foot lengths (the width for both is the same: 4 feet). Either would have been fine; the ceiling in the garage is somewhat poorly textured and we wouldn’t really need to be doing a perfect patch job by any means; the rest of the ceiling leaves a lot to be desired, so the name of the game is simply to fill the gaping hole. So without much debate, we just chose a single 12-foot piece (the cheaper choice of buying one versus two panels).

damage discount

After getting the panel onto the cart though, we noticed that there was some noticeable damage to one side in several different spots (it was probably the top piece that was strapped to an entire stack; the plastic straps used to keep an entire set of drywall panels together when they are being delivered to home improvement stores are both strong and flexible, but will usually dig deep grooves into the side of whichever piece is on top). It wasn’t exactly a deal-breaker for us, and we didn’t really require a pristine piece for the already-poorly-drywalled garage ceiling. But still: noticeably damaged areas, and we’d be using nearly the entire panel. Plus, it would also mean hauling down another 12-foot piece if we chose to put this one back… and honestly, who would do that for a garage ceiling? Not me, and definitely not my dad.

Then, he asked the best question of the day: since this piece was damaged, and more than likely not going to appeal to many other customers who would almost always want a completely intact piece, could we just get this one at a discounted price and take off their hands? (Such givers, we are – a truly selfless act.)

damage discount receipt

Without hesitation, they agreed. And that’s how I wound up with a sweet little discount off of my supplies for the day.

Moral of the story: the worst they can say is no. All it takes sometimes is just to utter the words to save a few bucks, so if you’re on a budget DIY project like I am (and isn’t everyone?), just go for it. After a few more yeses, the savings will start to add up, and then boom: you’ve got enough for a six-pack of the latest seasonal from the local brewery. Or in Dad’s case, a free meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

See what I did there? That’s called repurposing. And everyone likes free stuff (what, isn’t that how money works? in units of free meals or bar tabs?).

Have you ever gotten some unexpected discounts? Do tell.

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  1. The best part is, you’re probably going to cover that up with tape and mud anyways.

    It never hurts to ask. When buying TV’s I’ll even ask for the floor model, with a big discount of course.

  2. We got free trees this weekend (but not ’cause we asked… it was ’cause Lowes was giving them away). I think the biggest discount we ever found was on drywall. We shopped around a lot and ended up finding a great deal that included delivery and carrying it all down into our basement.

  3. i used to work at Home Depot.

    we were always more than happy to give discounts like that. i actually made a couple people’s days, doing that.

    one guy, his flooring was special order, and when it came in, 3 boxes had damage on one end. he didn’t want to wait for replacements, and was getting it installed by us, so i called the installers and asked if using those 3 boxes for cuts would be problematic. long story short, he got those 3 boxes for cost. not bad for $5/sf maple.

    glad you’re getting the garage ceiling fixed. a gaping hole in a ceiling is definitely not a selling point. ^.^-b

  4. Um, from what I can see, you need 5/8″ fire rated for that application. If you try to sell the house and the marking on your new sheet is exposed the buyers inspector will def. catch that.

    1. If that were true, I’d then have to replace all of the drywall across the entire ceiling in the garage. I measured the old drywall panel’s width to make sure we got the same thickness as the rest, to keep it uniform & just replace what’s missing. And why would the marking on the new sheet be exposed? I would think that the entire piece will get covered over as we apply texture to match the other panels. But I appreciate the advice!

  5. We redid our backsplash with mini subway tiles on a sheet. When we got to the store they had a whole stack where there was a few missing tiles or a broken one, etc. I asked (to my husbands horror) and we got those sheets half price! It was at least two boxes worth. It took a little more work when doing the tiling but way worth it!

  6. We needed a short piece of gutter for our downspout. It only came in 10 foot lengths. My BF saw one that was damaged on one end. Since we were going to cut it anyway he asked if they would discount the damaged piece. They gave it to us for $3!

  7. I’m all about getting a deal! In the normal course of shopping, I don’t ask for discounts, but if it’s damaged? You bet I will! I also haggle on used stuff, especially bigger things, especially at flea markets. The best deals are always for something no one else wants, but that work for you. Like the drywall!

  8. I only needed a small amount of rocks for a project once and found a torn open bag of marble chips with some missing. When I asked, they gave me half off.

    And it doesn’t just work in home improvement does either. I went to target to get a white athletic undershirt for my husband but when I put it in the cart it got some small red juice marks on it that a prior sticky-fingered kid had left. I thought “well, I have to buy it now” thinking of the “you break it, you buy it”adage. At the register I happened to get a manager and she noticed the marks and offered a half of discount! Cool! The marks came out in one wash too.

  9. I “stole” a ton of paint from Lowe’s last week. Someone had 4 buckets of deck paint mixed and didn’t like the color, so they were discounted 30%. I asked how much they’d take off if I bought all 4 buckets and they took another 30% off right there. Needless to say… my decks are a beautiful new shade of “cedar”.

  10. Thank you for the great advice for repairs without the cost. I usually use my military discount at most home and improvement stores but receiving a discount because of a piece is damaged is a great way to save if you can make things work with it.