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    2-6. Buy builder items. - Electronic Edition

    2-6. Buy builder items. - Electronic Edition
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     Often readers tell me they are excited about building with a national brand of windows. In shelter and architectural magazines they see sumptuous ads and hear confirmation from others who tap into or profit from consumer sales of such items.

     Ads like these are very costly. As a manufacturer of a construction product in the 1980’s I paid $25,000 for an insert into the Sweet’s architectural catalog for my product. (Close to $100,000 in today’s dollars.) Full page ads in Architectural Digest cost almost as much. Manufacturers with regular marketing costs of that magnitude must charge higher prices to compensate. But that doesn’t make the windows better.

     Left to their own devices, custom builders would not offer heavily marketed products like these to their customers, as it increases cost and cuts builder margins. Builders have sources for products that are of good quality without all the marketing. Usually they involve a good-better-best array of choices, and you can get all the quality you want for a bit more money. Owner-builders who have studied window specifications in depth have used the National Fenestration (windows) Research Council’s site, nfrc.org for functional comparisons of windows.

     We once saw a heated towel bar apparatus in a prestige consumer catalog for $3,000. Later we saw a similar item in a trade catalog for $175. On reflection, we came up with a way to warm towels in our next home by running heated water tubing through a bathroom wall at very little extra cost.

     Like windows, faucets, carpets, appliances, paints, light fixtures, and many other items are sold by creating consumer demand for designer versions. Be sure you check builder sources for such items before paying for the marketing.

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