How to Spot Enduring Quality

Have you ever noticed something that most new homes and model homes have in common?  They all look great when they’re new.  Unfortunately, many builders cut corners on some methods and materials and such homes may not stand the test of time as well as one with better craftsmanship and materials.   There can be tremendous difference between the quality of materials used, even on homes in the same price range.  I hope to give you a few things you can look for to help you spot some common differences and make a more informed buying decision.

One of the areas where many builders try to save a few buck is on carpet.  Face it, most carpet looks pretty nice when it’s new.  Many buyers rely largely upon the feel of the carpet, but that doesn’t always tell the whole story.  There are carpets that may feel or look luxurious, but they may be inexpensive carpets that don’t wear well.  Don’t hesitate to ask what type of carpet is in a home, and then check with a floor covering store in the area and ask questions about it.  Don’t just get the brand, get the name of the specific carpet.  One thing to watch for in two story floor plans is if the carpet in the living areas is the same as on the stairs.  Some builders will use an inexpensive carpeting in the living areas, but know that if they use that same carpet on the stairs, it will be obvious how inexpensive and sparse the threads are where it wraps over the stair bullnose.  They will use a better quality carpet on the stairs.  Make sure you know what type of carpet you are getting in a potential new home. It’s a wear item, and it’s something that builders like Pacific Coast Construction Group, Inc. considers when choosing carpet for our homes.  We use a better grade of carpeting than the majority of our competitors do even at higher price points.  We don’t want the carpeting in our homes to only look good on the move in day. We want it to endure for many years.

Don’t assume those great looking wood floors are really wood.  Many builders install click style laminate flooring, and once it’s down, it can be difficult to tell the difference and unless you ask, you may not know until it’s too late.  There are many traditional and engineered hard wood flooring products that wear and last much better than the inexpensive  laminates that many builders are installing.  Again, they look great when new.   Another option for some people are the luxury vinyl products like luxury vinyl planks (LVP). Most folks can’t tell the difference between a high quality LVP and real wood, and it wears extremely well. In fact, it’s often used in high traffic commercial applications.  Know what’s on the floors of the homes you are looking at.  If two similar homes have similar prices see if one might be using vinyl flooring in bathrooms where the other may be tile.  You don’t always pay more for a home with higher quality materials, and over time such materials actually save money on maintenance and replacement costs.

When you are touring a home take a look under the kitchen sink and the vanities.  See if the craftsman that installed the cabinets just cut a large square or rectangular hole in the back of the cabinet to go over the plumbing protrusions, or if they cut individual holes for each of the penetrations.  It’s an easy way to check on the builders commitment to spending a little more time to do a better job.  If they’re focused on bottom dollar pricing they probably utilize a cut-rate craftsman that cuts corners where they can to save time.

Try to go through builders homes at various stages.  Go through at the framing stage.  Look to see if there are multiple nails protruding through the top plates of the walls, and if many nails missed the studs and are just sticking through the sheathing, not hitting any framing members.  In general, does the builder keep the job site clean and safe?  See if you can go in a home right after it’s insulated, but prior to drywall being installed.  Look behind insulation to see if there is sawdust and debris from plumbers and electricians drilling through the studs.  The vast majority of builders leave such debris because they know it will never be seen.

During construction is the job site kept neat and orderly, free of excess debris? Often attention to such things can be an indication of a builders overall level of concern for details and worker environment and safety.

If any of us at Pacific Coast Construction Group, Inc. can be of any help, or answer any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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