What Builders Think of the Notion of "Builder's Grade"

60-120 Minutes

A common rant is how dreadful the basic trim installed by a builder is. In this common lament, the minimal size and unremarkable profile of basic moldings are referred to disparagingly as "builder grade." Yet builders build what the homeowners want or are willing to pay for. As a builder of things, I would call this "Homeowner grade," were it not offensive. You see, homeowners and builders come in an endless range of tastes and budgets. My version of "builders grade" is cabinet head casing style with no less than 9 pieces of trim around a single side of a door opening--some have 15 or more pieces--per side (vs. 3). I can install simpler trim if I must, or far more elaborate, if that is what is called for. More involved trim is not actually that much more expensive to produce, for those who are good at it. Sometimes people have a false sense of economy and settle for the mediocre, when excellence is actually a better value. Save until you can afford what you really will like. This a simple encouragement to rethink what builders are about.

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2 of 11 comments
    on Mar 10, 2013

    I am in the Real Estate field and when the agents go out to preview homes- it is things like TRIM that attracts the eye and gives value and sets a home apart- mind you- its what people first see at eye level!!!! If you have ever been into an OLD home thats been lovingly taken care of or gently restored- the walls may be imperfect- the floors a tad off- but the TRIM......oh the trim ......is what people talk about- Jewelry on an otherwise plain surface that circles the eye that looks out into the world

  • Building Moxie
    on Dec 9, 2013

    Excellent point @Brian Campbell, Basswood Artisan Carpentry . These are gorgeous examples. At first glance (at images 1 and 3), it made me think of all the times I have seen a build-up and in particular a head and cap used maybe inappropriately ...perhaps it is sometimes simply a question of, well, appropriateness. Does a "fancy trim" fit the period, style, feel and level of finish/detail found in a house/room? ... and I actually I thought this was where this lesson was going. Fun thoughts and beautiful work as always, ~jb

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