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Standard or optional? Builders give us the scoop.

by Meghann Finn Sepulveda on May 1, 2015

During the design phase of the home-building process, buyers have the opportunity to select from hundreds of options for every area of the home. From appliances, countertops and cabinetry to lighting, fixtures and flooring, the process can be overwhelming since builders offer standard features as well as a variety of upgrade packages that can vary from floor plan to floor plan and from community to community.

We talked to some experts to better understand how builders decide which features to include as standard and which become optional.

Market anaylsis

Builders estimate most buyers spend on average between 10 and 20 percent of the base price of the home in upgrades. Identifying those features in advance helps builders evaluate the wants and needs of the future residents of each community. 

“The process begins as soon as we start looking at a piece of property,” said Steve Sasso, Phoenix division president for Mattamy Homes. “We conduct market research and rely on focus groups comprised of realtors and prospective buyers to help us determine product needs, house size and community amenities.”

Following market research analysis, every item gets put into a category to create the feature packages. “There are different levels for each series,” Sasso said. “These decisions are thoroughly reviewed and thoughtfully planned and measured.”

Standard vs optional

Items considered to be standard features may focus on areas such as insulation, kitchen design and countertop materials.

“We consider our standard features the fundamental foundation of our product based on our buyer profile,” Sasso said.
“We do not compromise.”

Kevin Rosinski, vice president of the Arizona division for Toll Brothers, said that what is standard versus what is optional can also depend on the price-point of the home.

“We follow industry trends and create product offerings based on feedback from roundtable discussions and homeowner forums,” he said, adding that geography can play into the decisions as well. “We have a higher emphasis on product offerings such as energy-efficiency in certain parts of the Valley and on cosmetic appeal in other areas.”

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