Turner & Son Homes Blog

    Cost to build a house: budget vs. quality

    granite counter

    Many people associate high quality with high cost, but it's not always true. In fact, sometimes the opposite is true.

    Compare the quality of a car built in 1967, back when cars weren't expected to even last 100,000 miles and only had five digits on the odometer. Adjusted for inflation, the average new car in 1967 cost $22,807 according to the Houston Chronicle.

    Now, according to Consumer Reports, you can buy a Toyota Corolla, arguably far higher in quality than anything built 50 years ago, for just under $21,000. Quality went way, way up and cost stayed essentially the same.

    When it comes to houses, be careful not to confuse quality with finish level. For example, laminate countertops (like Formica, WilsonArt, etc.) are far higher quality in terms of finish for use than granite. Laminate is non-porous, easy to clean, and very sanitary for preparing food.

    Granite is porous and must be sealed periodically, and it's so unsanitary that health departments don't allow it in commercial kitchens. Yet we pay more for it because we think granite is higher quality. It's not really. It just looks nicer.

    We also tend to think "inexpensive" or "cheap" means something is poorly made. It doesn't have to be. I know a commercial electrician who says, "It doesn't cost any more to do it right than it does to do it wrong."

    Think about craftsmanship. A trim carpenter can make the joints in two pieces of trim look perfect whether the material is solid oak or cheap pressed wood. Once painted, you'll never know the difference. At the same time, he can do a poor job and make even the expensive wood look cheap.

    When it comes to quality and budget, the care a builder and contractors take in planning and executing the building of a new home is reflected in the quality of construction. And the same world-class quality can and should exist in the $100,000 home just as in the $1 million home.

    Tim Turner

    Written by Tim Turner

    A home builder for 18 years, Tim is the "son" in Turner & Son Homes. He is the CEO of the company and partners with his dad, Ben, who has been building since 1964.

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