4 Finishes to Shop First!

detail of a modern bathroom with tub and sink

Selecting four key finishes before the plans are finalized can save you money on your home construction project. These four finishes—plumbing, appliances, lighting and cabinets—are the culprits that cause the most change orders and design revisions for projects. Typically, builders send clients to showrooms to make these selections only after the plans are drawn, the budget is finalized, and the contract is signed.  The floorplan and project budget are determined using a general idea of the type of finish-out the client desires without knowing the specifics of these selection details. Flooring and countertops may be discussed, but not faucets and pendants. The client begins shopping for these selections only after the contract is signed and construction begins.

There are two problems with this sequence:

First, shopping at showrooms and making actual selections is an eye-opening experience where you see new products, ideas, possibilities. That’s the fun of doing a home building project. You may find things you didn’t know existed or realize you wanted when you discussed the original plans for your home.

Second, you make selections based on what you like and your budget. Without construction experience, you can’t realize when your selection could cause a change to the floor plan or mechanical systems and increase the cost of building the home. Because of the added cost, the builder regards this as a change order, where you see it simply as a selection choice. This is where many clients get frustrated with their builder and distrustful of the home building industry.

Here are just a few examples of the problems that can arise from selection changes.

Plumbing changes:

  • Added pot fillers – need water line run to the stove area
  • Luxury shower systems and handheld sprayers – require additional plumbing or larger supplies
  • Free-standing tub – may change supply and drain locations

Lighting changes:

  • Large fixtures – oversized chandeliers and ceiling fans require extra bracing
  • Low voltage fixtures – track lighting requires adding a transformer and changes wiring
  • Decorative fixtures – going from three mini-pendants to two larger pendants

Appliance changes:

  • Gas range from electric cooktop – adds a gas line
  • Cooktop moved to the island – added connections and changes the vent location
  • Icemaker – some models require a drain

Cabinet changes:

  • Furniture-style vanity – needs to be onsite for plumbing rough connections to fit
  • Open vanity – exposed plumbing needs to be raised
  • Display cabinets – glass fronts and shelves can require accent lighting

Shopping for these selections before your floor plans are complete will improve the whole building experience for you. These details allow the design of your project to be accurate and give the builder the information he needs to keep your project on time and on budget.