What is a Buying Guide and Why do I Need One?

by Julie

Builder In Your Pocket-Buying Guidebooks

A.  What is a “buying guide” and why do I need one?  How can it help me?

BuilderInYourPocket buying guides are comprehensive with everything you need to know about your purchases:  doors, cabinets, flooring, lighting, windows, roofing, paint…and more.

You have dozens of selections to make at (possibly) more than 20 different suppliers. You must select everything from flooring to roofing.  For each selection, there is free guidance on our site, so please browse around.

Once you are ready to actually shop for one of your needed selections, consider purchasing the Buying Guidebook for that choice.  They are the everything-you-need-know guidebooks for all aspects of your decision making.  They are full of excellent resources and tips.  Use the books to:

  • Save money
  • Save time with fewer trips to the showroom
  • Make the right choice for your home
  • Work confidently with suppliers and contractors

If you are prepared ahead of time, then shopping is MUCH easier.  You can hone in on what you really want and focus on ways to meet the budget.  Without advance preparation, well…shopping is not so easy.

B.  How hard can it be?

Remember the 20 different places, each with several different choices?  Every choice has countless details.  I asked my door supplier how many trips, on average, an owner makes to their showroom to choose doors and windows.  She said 4-5.  And that’s just one supplier!

Can you picture the amount of time make this will take you?  Can you imagine how overwhelming it can be? You will be hit with tons of questions.  The overwhelming part is that you probably know very little about these things.

Take interior doors, for example.  They are all around us and we use them all the time.  How much could there be to know?

At the showroom, these are just a few of the questions you will be asked:  paint or stain, height, jamb size, threshold, panel configuration and profile, handing, solid or hollow, type of door, style of door, bore, hardware, type of material, smooth or textured, etc?

It’s a long list. While homes are a familiar place, the construction of them is a whole new world.

C.  Won’t the salesperson (at the showroom) tell me what I need to know?

The salespeople will be enormously helpful.  But, by way of analogy, I’d like to show you how difficult it can be.  You must enter into a new and different world (although familiar).

Suppose that for some odd reason you don’t know anything about cars, yet you are ready to buy one.  Once you arrive at the car dealership, the salesperson will ask you questions.  The 1st question would probably be “what type of vehicle”?

What if (by my strange analogy), you didn’t know the difference between the types of vehicles.  What is a sedan, sports utility, crossover or truck?  Let’s say that you only knew that you want to carry at least 4 people and tow your boat. Towing requires a bigger engine.  Bigger engines cost more and get less miles per gal. You didn’t know that.  Looking at the brochures, you see “SUV, mpg, v4, v6 or v8, trim package, etc”—all foreign to you.

If this happened to you, then the first couple of trips to the dealership would be a Cars 101 lesson.  It wouldn’t be until trip 3 or 4 that you even could begin to talk about your car choice.  The various trim packages, size of engine and the costs for each.  What you really want.

To me, all those trips to the dealer would be a bunch of wasted time and effort.  The same thing can happen during all those purchases for your home.  The time you spend with the supplier is vital and you really don’t want it to be a Doors or Cabinets 101 lesson.

If I were in this situation, it would be a tremendous help to purchase a book with a comprehensive overview of cars-combined with tips and suggestions.  I would purchase it in a heartbeat!  How comforting to think of heading off to the dealership with a checklist of my choices and a good working knowledge.  Knowledge is power!

The time spent at the suppliers can now be more fruitful.  You can hone in on just exactly the right choices-the really beautiful ones-for your home.  You can also use some of the tips in the Guidebooks to help save money and to minimize mistakes.

D.  Can’t I just ask my builder or search the Internet?

Of course you can.  I don’t know about you, but I find that really good, complete information on the Internet is hard to find.  I can spend hours looking without finding.

Let me tell you the story of why I wrote the Buying Guidebooks in the first place.  During the course of the same week, I sent 2 different clients off to shop for doors.  Dawn, the salesperson at my supplier, is exceptional.  My first client came back from the first meeting and I asked her how it went.  She said that she felt “lost and stupid”.  The woman is an attorney.

That was the experience of a very smart woman with an exceptional salesperson!

This isn’t good.  People should enjoy the process of building of their dream, not wander around stressed and frustrated.

I talked with her about doors for almost an hour and really only covered the casing and panel configuration along with a few other basics.  Then, I did the same thing with the other client.  Most builders are happy to talk with their clients, but there are not enough hours in a day to go over everything.   Both clients (like most everyone in this situation) ended up spending hours on the Internet and making many trips back to the supplier before completing their door selections.  Then, they had to do it all over again for cabinets, windows, flooring, roofing, exterior doors, hardware….

I just knew there had to be a better way.  What if–

  • I wrote it all down in some type of manual.  After 20 years of building houses, I’ve learned a few things, including the mistakes.
  • Filled it with real world tips.   Help people avoid mistakes and save money.
  • I consulted with some real experts on each topic.  Those are the salespeople at the suppliers!  Good salespeople know a lot, including how to take the homeowner through the process.
  • Include photos to clearly convey the information.  Throw in an illustration or two.
  • Make sure it is comprehensive.  I know that I don’t like half-hearted content, so I will do everything I can to make the information complete.
  • Do everything I can to make it clear.
  • Make sure that it is easy to read– designed for the layperson.  To that end, I had friends, homeowners, even my mother read it.

A great deal of effort has gone into making the information contained in the Buying Guides from Builder In Your Pocket:

Clear. Comprehensive. Easy to read.



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