How to Avoid the Cookie Cutter Home

How to Avoid the Cookie Cutter Home

Have you ever noticed when you are driving through a new home community sometimes all of the homes look the same? It seems as though over the past decade, the focus of homebuilders has been on cost savings, which has translated into less interesting curb appeal and a rather uniform look as a result of production efficiencies. When the economy and housing industry suffered a downturn after 2008, some builders also reduced the number of included features offered both inside and outside of their homes and the number of floor plans offered, while using cheaper materials as a way to reduce costs.

Along with quality construction, curb appeal should be one of your main priorities. Some builders have actually increased the number of features they include and have added to their included exterior features. Additionally when there are more floor plans offered, the likelihood of the cookie cutter effect decreases since there is more variety. Interior features like 9-foot first floor ceilings, lofts and vaulted ceilings, tile or hardwood floors, maple cabinets, 95.5 percent high efficiency furnaces and hand framing should be standard. Included exterior features such as brick and stone facades, architectural garage doors, metal accent roofs, bay windows and complicated roof lines add significantly to curb appeal so be sure to look for these items if you are shopping for a new home. A quality builder will advise its customers very carefully on what color combinations look the best and also one who adds significant amounts of landscaping. Most importantly each home is individually designed so that no two look the same.

One of the problems of not keeping specifications at a high level in order to reduce cost is that customers who have already bought at the higher specification years back are going to find it hard to get value back on resale. Taking masonry off and cheapening materials often can lead to a rundown look in the community after a short period and can mean higher levels of maintenance for homeowners. Ways for builders to reduce costs by improving efficiency, include reducing overhead and shopping suppliers aggressively to provide more house for the same price.

The ability to customize both the inside and outside of the home is also very important to avoiding that cookie cutter look. Some builders believe their homes are customizable but that is often within a template. Customizing means more than picking items from a predefined selection sheet. Adding windows, different countertops or different cabinet styles may not represent customization. A floor plan should be just a framework to get started and a truly customizable builder should be able to meet nearly any customer request at a reasonable price. This could include moving walls to rearrange traffic flows, adding or subtracting square footage, relocating bathrooms, allowing full kitchen redesigns and just about any other structural change you can think of. It also means adding a well-placed bay window, extra masonry or a different porch style to enhance curb appeal.

You may also notice that it is particularly hard to avoid the cookie cutter look and create unique curb appeal in townhome communities and multifamily communities. Look for a builder, such as Kay Builders, that has flexibility and floor plan choice. Any of Kay’s 10 model types can be joined with any other model, which results in no two buildings looking alike.

When building a new home, you, and your builder, should always consider resale value. It is important to take the extra effort to insure your home increases in value.


About the Expert:

Rick Koze is President of Kay Builders, Inc. He is and a graduate of Emmaus High School and holds a BA in Economics from Yale University. Before becoming a third-generation owner and operator of Kay Builders, Koze held prominent financial positions at Fortune 500 companies from 1986-1991. As a resident and businessman in the Lehigh Valley, Rick supports several local initiatives including the Boys Scouts of America – Minsi Trail Council and the Burn Prevention Foundation. Kay Builders has served the Lehigh Valley exclusively for 55 years.

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