Volume 42, Issue 7 - July 2007

the Farnady Files
Pennywise
Buying for Price vs. Buying for Value
by Dez Farnady

The price you pay for being pennywise and pound-foolish is no longer measured in pounds, but in serious dollars. The extra savings you think you pick up by cutting a corner or two or making that tempting little economic concession always costs you in the long run. I am not advocating gross extravagance, just a little commonsense. 

Throughout the many years that I have maintained, remodeled and upgraded my home, I keep stumbling onto my own mistakes. I find places where I had cut corners, thinking I was saving money, only to find that doing it right the first time for a few more bucks would have been a better idea. Of course, there were a few places where economics offered no options, but one canít help that. 

Window Matters
Whether you are buying it or selling it, if you go the cheap way, ultimately, you will still pay the price. Letís talk about windows first. I am not a window expert by any stretch of the imagination and my perspective is more that of a homeowner in this league, but I have learned a thing or two at my own expense. For example, I bought the cheapest windows I could lay my hands on when doing an addition to my house many years ago. They have required the most frequent and most costly maintenance over the years. Just a little upgrade would have been a better investment in terms of house value as well as serious, long-term savings in maintenance, grief and money.

The same type of thing goes for that cheap shower door or tub enclosure. The more expensive version with less and better hardware will last longer and will be easier to maintain. There are fewer places for soap scum to accumulate and for the hard-water mineral deposits that are such a pain to remove to hide. The better and heavier hardware generally has a more durable finish and is easier to clean. So much for buying cheap.

A Better Value
Selling cheap has similar problems. Itís OK if it makes you a short-term hero, but in the long run your customer will realize the consequences of having bought cheap, and since you are the one who sold it, you are no longer the good guy.

The plastic skylight bubble (otherwise known as the acrylic dome) is an economical vestige of the past, just like the aluminum window. It is a reasonable solution in the housing tract market where it provides the developer with the upscale look of the skylight at the reduced cost of acrylic compared to glass. As a seller of acrylic dome skylights, I may well be speaking treason, but the fact remains that in the past few years the market has taken a major shift toward glass skylights for good reason.

The durability of glass, along with its enhanced performance capabilities and vast range of appearance options makes it a more expensive but better option than acrylic in both the long and the short term. The amazing performance capabilities offered by the new low-E products cannot even be approached by anything that I know of from the acrylic market. 

The economic changes in certain areas on the West Coast have driven housing prices through the roof. There are neighborhoods in which we do business where you canít buy a garage for a half a million dollars. Yet we still have homeowners and contractors asking for mill-frame acrylic skylights for a couple hundred bucks. If I know where the job is, I often ask them the estimated value of the project. Usually I am told without even a blink that itís a million or a million and a half. So I ask them again if they really want to put a $200 skylight on a million-dollar house. 

It is my humble opinion that in this business, like in any other, it ought to be value that dictates for both the seller and the buyer. You donít buy price if itís a deal on junk and you donít up-sell junk just because some fool who thinks itís better because itís expensive will pay for it. You sleep better at night if you buy or sell a good product for a fair price. A customer will always come back or tell his friends if he got a good product and you can bet your last buck that he is sure to tell everyone he knows if he got the shaft. 

the author: Dez Farnady serves as the general manager of Royalite Manufacturing Inc., a skylight manufacturer in San Carlos, Calif. Mr. Farnadyís opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine. His column appears monthly.


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