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Stock_Photos_011.jpgWhich criteria do you place the highest value on when evaluating the purchase of a product or service?  Is it the item with the lowest price? The best guarantee? Does the company supplying the product have a reputation for an outstanding level of service? Do you crave quality at any cost?

In the past two years, increasingly, consumers en masse are using one single factor to guide the purchases they make for their home: price. More specifically, the lowest price.

In a recent discussion with a client seeking a cost proposal for a bath remodel she told me that she wanted the cheapest vanity she could get so she could afford a nice marble top. I said, "All the vanities in that price range are really cheap melamine and particle board, with cheap hardware. It wont stand up to the wet environment of your bathroom." She told me she didn't care enough about the quality of the vanity to spend an extra $200 to have a custom built, all wood vanity. Even though a custom size better met her needs. She had told me in our initial meeting that the storage space was important to her. My advice was that the all wood cabinet was the better value, even at $200 more. The rationale is simple: You are going to pay the plumber the same money to install fixtures in both vanities, and the carpenter the same cost to install it, so why not install a product that will last 20 or 30 years instead of 5 years as the particle board/melamine cabinet would. So in five years you have this beat-up moldy vanity. Why bother to begin with? Is adding $200 to the cost of a $5,000+ remodeling project worth long term peace of mind? Apparently not to some people. This client and I parted ways at this point.

So, is a remodeling project that costs $1000 to complete a better value than one that costs $1200. Comparing cost alone gives no insight into value. You need to understand all of the properties, components, and benefits of that comprise each option before making an educated evaluation of the value. Here is a checklist of questions to consider when assessing the value of a remodel project.

  • Contractor reputation and references.
  • Level of service: Detailed plans, flexibility in providing design options, convenient schedule, etc.
  • How long is the product or service guaranteed.
  • Which product best fills your needs? Is it just what you want?
  • How do the features of differently priced products compare? Wood vs. melamine, or stone vs. laminate, for example. How will products perform in the envioronment they will be used in? Is it a wet location like a bathroom or will it stand up to longterm exposure to exterior conditions? What kind of drawer slides will be used in a cabinet?
  • Durability or quality: how long will a product last?
  • Resale value (See the cost vs. Value link on our blog home page)
  • Price

Yeah, there's price way down on the list. Don't misunderstand, price is a big deal. There is nothing to gain in spending your hard earned cash on an overvalued product. It's just that when you use price as the only benchmark for quality you risk getting shot-changed.