Building a home? Beware of builder grade materials

Cheaply made builder grade gutters are susceptible to clogs, which can cause a number of problems to your home, says Lindus. (Photo courtesy of Lindus Construction/Midwest LeafGuard)

Cheaply made builder grade gutters are susceptible to clogs, which can cause a number of problems to your home, says Lindus. (Photo courtesy of Lindus Construction/Midwest LeafGuard)

Anyone who has built a home or considered building a home has likely heard the term “builder grade” materials. When there are so many details to consider, a potential homebuilder may not look as deeply into understanding what these materials are and how they can affect your home down the road.

What’s in a name?

To many, the term “builder grade” implies something with enough quality that a builder would use it. The name is a bit misleading since builders are technically using them, but by no means are builder grade materials the crème de la crème. 

In most cases, builder grade materials are just of average quality and are pre-built and mass-produced. 

Grading

In the construction industry, the quality hierarchy for materials is as follows:

  • Ultimate custom grade
  • Custom grade
  • Quality grade
  • Builder grade

Buyer beware

While builder grade products vary from contractor to contractor, it’s important to understand the consequences of opting for builder grade products, which are often only short-term solutions. 

Builder grade windows

Windows can dramatically affect the look and beauty of your home by adding light and providing a feeling of spaciousness. Choosing quality windows in your home can reduce heating and cooling costs because your furnace and air conditioner have to work less to heat or cool outside air that’s getting into your house. 

Builder grade windows meet the bare minimum requirements and may not be multi-chambered for insulation purposes, allowing for drafts. Mass production also means that builder windows are less likely to come in odd sizes. 

In the event that you fill an odd sized window hole with a builder grade window, you may end up with gaps that will allow outside air to escape into your home.

Builder grade entry doors

Like quality windows, a well-made entry door will protect your home from nature’s elements. Opt for a high quality door that is insulated rather than a hollow one that provides less protection and can be easily damaged.

Builder grade gutters

All gutters are created equal, right? Wrong! Cheaply made gutters are susceptible to clogs, which can cause water to spill over your gutter and pool on the ground below. 

This can result in damage to your shrubs, lead to surface erosion and seep into your foundation, causing cracks and basement flooding. Water can also spill behind the gutter causing damage to the wood of your soffit and fascia.

If you have add-on toppers, helmets or hoods that are attached to your roof and hang over your gutters, they are usually held in place by screws and nails hammered into your roof. Putting holes in your roof can cause leaks and may void your roof warrantee.

Don't underestimate the danger of clogs attracting pests. Some critters are attracted to the acorns and seeds that can collect in your gutters. Insects, mold and bacteria can grow in standing water.

Builder grade vinyl siding

Oftentimes, builder grade vinyl siding is less thick and dependable than higher grades. Lower quality siding can fall victim to nature’s elements, cracking and fading with sun exposure and denting easier during storms. 

A major expense of any siding job is the actual installation, so do yourself a favor and opt for a higher grade product which will last longer.

Builder grade roofing

It’s important to not lower your standards with a builder grade material because, while it may seem sensible at the time, you’ll likely end up with the cost of replacing a malfunctioning roof sooner than you would like. Some manufacturers offer warranties that last up to 50 years that are non-prorated and cover both labor and materials.


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