Maximize Your Builder Allowances

Allowances are an essential component to manage your money during a home building or remodeling project. Homeowners may feel anxious when it comes to allowances because they need a better understanding of how they are set and how they work. During a remodel or new construction, there are products that a builder will not know the cost because the selection and manufacturers vary. How can you work with your builder to maximize your allowances?

Q&A with KSI’s
Ed York, Builder Account Manager and Nicole Pilon, Designer

  1. How do Builder Allowances fit into the overall scope of home building today?
    Big budget, little budget, everybody has a budget! Typically a builder and the client will agree to an allowance relating to a basic design, maybe with a little cushion if the builder has determined that the customer will want to dress the plan up a bit. Then the homeowner can tailor the plan with the extras they wish to incorporate, hopefully staying close to the established allowance. This is where a good designer can make recommendations to help the home buyer maximize their options.
  1. Is it important for home buyers to come prepared with preferences to an initial meeting with a designer?
    It is really helpful to know what you like to help narrow down styles and preferences. Study different appliance options, style preferences, and accessory options. Do your research using the internet and popular websites like HOUZZ and Pinterest to narrow down your style preferences and bring pictures and ideas to the initial meeting with the designer. Think about how you live, how your family interacts in each area of concern, and what features you deem most important. Focus on the main areas first, and then add the extras where they fit the best. We are seeing home buyers today focusing the “extras” especially in their kitchens and master bathrooms.
  1. What are some suggestions to make allowances work well? Anything to avoid?
    Know yourself and what you expect to get with your new home. Be sure to share this with your builder when establishing the allowances. Keep in mind that some things have to be done now, and some things can be added at a later date if necessary, here is where your designer can help sort out these decisions. Having a finalized design ready early on may also prevent costly modifications to framing, mechanicals, and so on. It will also allow the products to be ordered and available on time, avoiding potentially costly delays in production. If you are on a tight budget, keeping it simple conserves on costs, so avoid overloading a design with extensive moldings and accessories.
  1. Please discuss the main cost factors and things to keep in mind about allowances (i.e., cabinetry varieties, door styles, finishes, wood species, counter tops, etc.)
    Besides the size and complexity of the design itself, the type of products chosen greatly influence the cost. Regarding cabinetry, how it is produced and the features it includes are important variables, as are wood species, door style, and finish. Generally the more custom the cabinetry is, and the more complex the door style and finish are, the higher the cost will be for a given design. Add to that a premium wood species, and the allowance would need to be calibrated to cover this type of product. Countertop choices also cover a wide range of features and values. Since allowances for a home usually lump all rooms together for one type of product, consider using more cost effective materials in areas like the laundry or lower level, allowing for a larger portion of each budget to be available for daily living spaces like the kitchen. One idea to create an upscale look on a budget is to use a painted finish on a standard door. KSI designers also can make valuable suggestions on drawer style to maximize functionality and minimize cost overages.
  1. How does KSI provide exceptional customer service to home buyers?
    KSI’s designers educate and guide the home buyer through the sometimes overwhelming process of planning and product selection. Besides having a professional design team fluent in the latest trends and products, KSI supports seven finely appointed showrooms in southeastern Michigan and northern Ohio. KSI delivers materials right into the home, and then support the installation process. KSI also provides warranty service throughout the product warranty period, which is much longer than the new home warranty. For some products it may be for as long as they own their home. It is KSI’s goal to ensure the home buyer is 100% satisfied.

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KSI Kitchen & Bath
KSI Kitchen & Bath
KSI Kitchen & Bath is a leading home design and remodeling firm specializing in kitchen and bath design.

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