Manufactured Luxury: The Problems with Homes built to Sell.

This extreme vault captures unique Nordic architectural elements while creating a dynamic interior experience.  Truly custom.

architect: First Lamp Architecture. designer: Mandy Callaway Interiors, photo John Granen

Let's consider an analogy:  Would you want to fly in a plane that had a beautiful cabin? Absolutely! But, what if you learned the plane manufacturer used cheap components for the wings, engines and other important connections and then used the lowest bidder to put everything together?  I don’t think so!  You’d certainly enjoy the first flight, but the longevity of the plane would be more disposable than dependable.  


We see them everywhere, homes that were built to sell.  Some look nice, but buyer beware!!

To chunk this out into manageable pieces, let’s consider the intentions and drivers of a builder who builds something to sell, and the builder who is building something to be cherished.  It may take the romance out of it, but the builder who is building to sell you something is more concerned with maximizing profit than your family. The motivations behind their decisions follow that same line of thinking.  In expensive and inexpensive “spec” homes, contractors focus on these key principles:


  • Obtain the cheapest materials that you can find for installation.  Framing materials, buried foundations, thin drainage pipes, Vinyl windows etc. 
  • Leverage relationships with the cheapest subcontractors that are focused on quantity, not quality to get projects done as quickly and cheaply as possible.
  • Order cabinetry and millwork that looks great but uses low quality materials which don’t last and are made of questionable glues and preservatives.  
  • Put in nice appliances and countertops in key areas to excite buyers. Kitchens, Powder bathrooms, and Master bathrooms are generally the nicest.  This is your classic "bait and switch.”
  • Install a beautiful front yard and make the entry seem warm and inviting and develop “curb-appeal." 
  • Build things as quickly as possible!


While these houses pass code requirements in local jurisdictions, the process in which they are built is dishonest.  The overarching concept is this: put the cheapest things they can find in all the places no one will ever look.  Then put some nice, even expensive, things where people do look in order to elicit desirable emotions.  This makes people want to spend money and purchase the home.  The minimum standard is what they can get away with while still passing inspections.

Let’s agree, it makes sense to make your largest investment  in something that is dependable, not disposable!

To contrast when building custom:

When we build a custom home we start with the design.  What are the specific goals of the customer and how can the layout of the home support their goals, lifestyle, and vision for their time in the home.  We have a minimum standard at RW Anderson Homes which is beyond building codes.  We believe the things that no one sees are more important than the things that everyone sees.  This is what craftsmanship is all about.  It’s synonymous with integrity or what you do when no one is looking.  Here is a short list of things that are always included in our projects.  

  • Quality, local lumber for a more durable, toxin free home.
  • Use the best US made fasteners for longevity and tightness, strength, and safety for your family.
  • Use all Blown in Blanket insulation for a more comfortable home.
  • Utilize Aerobarrier system to waste less energy, saving customers on their utility bills every month, forever.
  • Use Heat Recovery ventilation so the house breathes the right way creating a healthier home.
  • Install siding on “rain-screens” allows siding to last longer and prevents mold and rot.
  • Use formaldehyde-free products and low voc paints and glues in the home for healthier air quality.
  • Use all well branded, mainstream, items for plumbing pipes, electrical wiring, drywall, HVAC equipment and ductwork to ensure a long serviceable life.

Are these products disproportionately expensive? NO! They are products that add value, longevity, save money, add comfort, and reduce the breathable toxins in your home.  Yes they cost slightly more, but it is minimal in comparison to the added life and health benefits through time.   

Having a high minimum standard is important.  This is what being a craftsman is all about: Adding value in intangible ways while executing the finished spaces beautifully as well.  The unseen is equally important to the items that are seen and used every day.  

A truly custom home, designed for a customer who was moved by Nordic architecure along the wharfs in Norway.  This is a statement to the customer's values and is a near perfect reflection of their taste!  

architect: First Lamp Architecture. designer: Mandy Callaway Interiors, photo John Granen



Please be wary of homes that are built to sell! Also, please be wary of contractors who build things to sell, AND build custom homes.  There are several luxury spec builders in the area now offering to build custom homes as well.  Their baseline motivations are the same (profit), their methods are the same (get done and on to the next one) their eye for detail the same (focus on how it looks in the end, not quality from start to finish), only now you are partnering with them from the onset of construction!  Quality construction comes out of the core values of your contractor.  

Give us a call for your new home, your remodel, and your renovation.  We will put your life, family, and your home first.  You are user number one. We build in such a way that the next owner is also grateful for the care taken now.  Now is always the right time to do the right thing.  This is the time to get it right!

Give us a call at 206-383-8084, or email

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!  2020 HERE WE GO!!
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