Value through Design

The maturation of e-commerce has created a significant opportunity to save on materials acquisition costs and create value through cost-effective design.   Whether its door handlesets; faucets and other trim products; cabinet pulls; or other items, elegantly designed products can now be sourced online at fraction of the cost that they are available in local upscale stores or through home designers.

Contractor Inflation

Most homeowners rely on their contractor or a home designer to help them select appliances, finish materials and hardware.  Either of these choices can result in excessive costs.  Contractors tend to be very busy and they don’t like to shop around.  They also add a contractor’s mark up to all labor and materials (usually 10-15%).  But that’s not the big problem.  Contractors often rely on a network of suppliers that cater to contractors.  These companies deliver directly to the job site, provide favorable credit terms, etc., all of which make them the contractor’s best friend.  But not yours.  They pay for all that service by charging very high prices (which you the client actually pay via the contractor).   That basic white American Standard bathtub might cost might cost $250 from and they provide free shipping.  The local plumbing supply store charges $600 and your contractor marks that price up so it’s almost triple the price you could be paying.  Sometimes your contractor will put in an ‘allowance’ for certain items such as carpet.  If the allowance looks high, the contractor will tell you that they will only pass on the actual cost to you if the allowance is too high.  That’s great in theory but what’s the use if they are still going to buy the item from an overpriced vendor?  I can’t remember ever getting back money on an allowance.  I expect to be going to an Ice Capades show in hell before a contractor ever writes me a check.

Designer Inflation

The problem with designers buying/recommending materials is similar – they rely on a network of high-convenience, overpriced suppliers.  Most designers take a markup on items they purchase as well.  Often they will tell you that you should buy from a certain supplier because they get a ‘designers discount’ of 10%.  That sounds good but if you are charged twice the price you could be paying elsewhere prior to the application of the 10% discount, the math is not very favorable for you.

Door Knobs & Cabinet Pulls

Door knobs provide a good illustration of potential savings because there are many doors in a house so there is a multiplier effect applied to your per item acquisition cost.  I remodeled my house a couple of years ago and my wife selected some very nice Emtek Basel Brass Modern Passage Leversets.

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