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How To Buy Flooring For My New Custom Built Home

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

How To Buy Flooring For My New Custom Built Home

Custom home builders are notorious for not allocating enough money for the new construction flooring budget. Customers should set up an appointment with a custom builder floor covering store, and allow the flooring store to put together a realistic flooring budget. To get a workable budget, customers will need to have their blueprint and advise the floor covering store on what type of flooring materials they want in each room of the house.

How To Buy Flooring For My New Custom Built Home

Let's Talk About The Overall Flooring Budget

The competition in the custom home building market is huge. Builders constantly scramble to get new customers. One method of getting new customers is for a custom builder to offer the best price. One way to offer a low price is to offer product allowances that are too low.

In many cases, custom home builders will determine budget allowances based on a square foot price. For example, if you have a 1,500-square-foot home, and the builder gives you $15 a square foot for a flooring allowance, that total will be a part of your overall price. However, if after picking out your materials, you discover your cost came out to $20 a square foot, then you will be $5 a square foot over your budget and will have to pay this money outside of your construction loan.

So, if a builder gives you product allowances that are too low, your overall home price might be terrific, but at the end of the day, you will be paying a lot of money that was not included in the home price. Reputable builders do not practice this type of deception, but as a customer (the one paying the bills), you need to understand the numbers.

One benefit of getting an overall flooring budget is no one cares how you spend the money. You don't have to spend equally in every room. In fact, most homeowners will end up evaluating products, and spend more money on upgraded flooring in some rooms, than cutting back on products in other rooms.

As the homeowner, you need to understand exactly what is covered in your flooring allowance. For example, is the allowance paying for just the materials, or will it include materials and labor? What about the areas of the home that you might not think about? Does the allowance cover a kitchen backsplash? What about tile around the fireplace? Are you doing a walk-in ceramic shower? It is extremely important that you know exactly what the flooring allowance covers.

How To Get An Accurate Flooring Budget

The best way to get an accurate floor covering budget is to begin with the end in mind. Here are a few guidelines that a new construction homeowner should do:

  • Find a couple of local floor-covering stores that deal in new home construction. Call each store, and explain what you are doing. Set up an appointment with a salesperson that works with new home builders. Do not set up an appointment with a retail salesperson. Retail salespeople work in retail, and they typically will not only give you too high of a price, but they will also not understand the builder process.

  • Bring your home blueprint to the meeting. Sit down with the salesperson and walk them through what type of material (carpet, ceramic, vinyl plank, etc...) you are thinking about for each room. Based on the value of your home, the salesperson should be able to give you some good ideas on product prices.

  • Ask the flooring salesperson to show you some products, just to get a "feel" of what type of products are possible. Ask the salesperson to give you three square foot options (good, better, best) for each room. Make sure to include the installation. Then, ask them to put it all together as an overall budget.

  • You will end up with three overall numbers: a low-end product number, a middle-of-the-road product number, and an upper-end product number.

Let's say the overall numbers came in as follows:

  • $30,000 low end

  • $40,000 middle of the road

  • $50,000 upper-end

Now you have a good idea of what you are looking at. If the builder comes back to you with a budget number of $20,000, you know that number will be way too low.

At this point in the process, you are just looking at numbers. The actual product selection comes at a different stage. The only thing you are concerned about right now is the budget.

Most Popular Flooring Materials In New Construction

In new home construction, the type of flooring materials used are really all over the place. One common trend is to put hard surface flooring in the main living room area & kitchen. Hardwood flooring and luxury vinyl plank are extremely popular.

Hardwood flooring continues to be the timeless classic that remains very popular. Customers purchase hardwood flooring in both solid planks and in an engineered format. Both types are extremely popular.

Luxury vinyl tile & plank flooring is one of the most popular products in the floor covering world. New construction customers look at these products for laundry rooms, kitchens, living rooms, hallways, and bedrooms. Products are available in both tile-looking patterns and wood-looking patterns.

Carpet remains the king for bedroom flooring. Stain protection and durability are trending topics in carpet. Solid colors are trending down, while the multi-color grey carpet is currently very popular. A carpet pad is an item that many customers forget about. In custom homes, it is not uncommon to have two different types of padding, one for high-traffic rooms, and then a lesser grade for a basement or extra bedroom.

Ceramic master bedroom walk-in showers are the hot buzz in new construction. Customers are going crazy with elaborate designs and colors. Ceramic is also very popular in mudrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. Plus, don't forget about the kitchen backsplash and fireplace.

Laminate Flooring is made quite different than it was several years ago, and has been growing in new home construction sales. Many of today's products are very well made, with beautiful patterns and colors.

Who Is Going To Install The Flooring?

Installation is one of the biggest issues in new construction. As a homeowner, you need to determine who is going to do the installation. Do you have a family friend that is an installer? Maybe the floor covering store will also be doing the installation? Maybe you're buying materials from one store, but the builder has an installer they like to use. Whatever the end result is, as the homeowner, this is a critical step to understand.

You can't assume the builder will take care of everything. You need to have a conversation with the builder, to determine who is coordinating your project, and how will the schedule get communicated to your installer. As the one paying the bills, demand to get a copy of the construction schedule and know when installers will be at your house. If installers are not there on scheduled days, that's a red flag.

You are paying good money to build a home. Installers need to treat your project with importance. If installers are not putting in full work days, or not showing up at all, that's a problem. Understand the chain of command before construction starts.

It is also a very good idea to meet your installers at the house, to make sure they have a complete understanding of how you want things installed, especially if you are doing a ceramic shower. Don't rely on the builder to communicate with the it yourself.

Installers will appreciate this assistance. In many cases, flooring installers get to a job site with no information, no written documents, no diagrams, etc... As the homeowner, if you show up and tell them how you want things done, they will appreciate your effort. Most installers are happy to help, and they will be very glad to do things your way. Meeting your installers also gives you (and the installer) an opportunity to ask questions. Installers don't like punch work/repair items. They want to get it right the first time.

Let's Talk About Punch List Items

No matter how careful installers are, most of the time, there will be a few things that need to get touched up. It is important to get these items taken care of asap.

Once an installer leaves a job site, it is quite difficult to get them back. They are on to other projects, and quite simply put, they value new work more than punch list work.

As the new homeowner, you have to stay on top of it. If you don't demand action, your items could drag on and on and on...

Many homeowners forget about labor warranties. Most installers will offer a one-year warranty on installation work. Make sure you get a copy of the installation warranty, with the activation date. If you have an item that needs to be repaired, this warranty will come in handy.

One last point: Expect problems. You will have materials that get back ordered and delayed, installers will not show up, something will get installed wrong, etc... When building a new home, problems will happen. Expect it.

FAQ - How To Buy Flooring For My New Custom Built Home

Can we install hardwood flooring without permanent heat? The simple answer is, no. Hardwood manufacturers will not warrant their product if the home is not environmentally controlled with permanent heat. Temporary heaters in the home do not count.

Should we install the hard surface flooring before the carpet? Yes, this is always a good idea. The last thing you want is to track dust and dirt on the new carpet. The installation of the carpet should be last.

What size of tiles are customers putting in their showers? There is no standard size. Customers install 12"x12" tiles, as well as 24"x24" tiles. Likewise, accent rows, accent pieces, etc...are commonly used in showers.

Will picking out flooring materials take a long time? Plan on it to be a very long and drawn-out process. We would like to say it will be simple, and just take a few hours. But, that will not be the case. Get your mindset right. Plan on multiple trips to the floor covering store.

When should I order my flooring for a new custom-built home? Get your advice from your home builder. However, it is better to get the materials to town and let a store keep them in their warehouse than to wait until the last second. We advise getting your materials ready to go well in advance of the installation date.

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