Cutting Corners

Home Projects: Cutting Corners is the ‘weakest link’

In the past I have spoken with many home owners that were preparing to have a remodeling project done on their home.  I have often found that brand recognition and consumer confidence are among the decisive factors that homeowners use for selecting a product for their project.  Those of us that have used these factors as criteria to select a product were actually targets of an effective marketing and branding campaign.  Campaigns like this are typically designed to enhance consumer confidence in a product, but sometimes these campaigns are so effective that they work to our detriment.


Successful marketing campaigns can instill so much consumer confidence in a product that consumers can create unrealistic expectations for that product’s capabilities.  Due to these expectations other important project details are overlooked.  Consequently this can be a problem.

We’ve all heard the saying, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Today’s homes have systems which include heating and air conditioning systems and electrical systems, etc.  Each system is like a chain and is comprised of several components, or links.  You can purchase the best quality component for a system and unfortunately have problems with the completed project if any of the other components of that system are “the weakest link in that chain.”

The entire decision to buy a product is often based on the quality level of a single component within the system.  It is common for some remodelers to use the premium quality material that is requested by the purchaser for a project and then combine that material with low quality components to complete the system.  Cutting corners like this is typically done to save costs.  However, by cutting corners you are diminishing the quality of your finished product and over a period of time you will more than likely pay more for cutting corners with the repairs you may incur as a result of the project’s diminished quality.

In the long run, a more expensive project that truly contains only quality components can actually cost less then a less expensive project that has lower quality components.  Lower quality projects usually have to be redone whereas the quality job could last indefinitely.  I’m sure we would all agree that there is nothing worse than paying a lot of money for a poorly done project.

Unfortunately, with remodeling projects there really isn’t “A Sure Thing” when it comes to eliminating all consumer risks when making a product purchase.  I have however, adopted a simple system that I believe works.  While this system isn’t foolproof, I feel that it greatly reduces overall risk when contemplating a major purchase for your home.

I recommend that the criteria listed below be used for an individual system or project, rather than a major remodeling project such as adding on a room.  We will use carpeting as the example.  I hope that you will find the following information helpful when:

1. Identify the desired project to purchase – What item or material are you looking to purchase? (i.e. carpet, what brand, style etc.)

2. Qualify the product for your need – Ensure the product is capable of doing what you want it to do. Make sure it complies with any applicable building codes and that no external factors exist that could hinder the performance or life expectancy of the product. (i.e. ensure that the foundation has no moisture problems where the carpet will be installed)

3. Obtain a list of manufacturer approved accessory components for your selected product.

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