Calling something “builder grade” is sometimes considered a derogatory remark. Just because something is builder grade doesn’t mean it’s not good quality. Yes, it’s more economical and readily available versus a specialty product, but that doesn’t impact its quality. In fact, being available to the general public means enough people have found it so useful and durable that it’s gone mainstream. All the bugs have been worked out, it’s popular enough to be mass-produced, and it’s cost-effective.
Specialty items often present just a finish change or a slight modification to a builder-grade product, and the price goes sky-high. For example, a specialty faucet is often up to 30 percent more expensive than a builder grade faucet, yet the only difference is the brass vs. chrome finish. Most specialty items are trendy and in scarce supply. This fuels the trendiness, and increases demand. Eventually, these specialty items will go from lower production runs to higher runs, prices will plummet, and they’ll be available to everyone – probably making them – dare we admit it — builder grade. We see this constantly in the cell phone market and the electronics market. Demand fuels production, production pushes the cost down, and the consumer benefits in the end.
Sometimes specialty items are worth the increased cost. Only you can decide if you want to spend your treasure on a specialty item that might become the next great builder grade item.