Posted in Bathrooms, Builders, Consumer Protection, Counter tops, Lavatory sinks


Tales from remodeling. As I review remodel proposal with clients, I explain this: I do not include allowances for plumbing fixtures, cabinet hardware or tile. The reason is simple, there is a false sense of security built into a proposal, a security bubble that is easily burst when the homeowner visits the plumbing store and starts pricing the fixtures they want on the project. The shock and frustration sets in after one realizes the contractor allowances are not close to being realistic. It can add up to thousands more than what the contractor allowed.

Here is one example from the blog, Dream Home Diaries.

Our builder, John, does not have cheap taste. Quality materials were included in the budget: granite counter tops, composite decking and Hardie Plank siding. Then why, oh why, did he allow such paltry amounts for sinks and faucets?

Paul and I were shocked to learn that John had budgeted only $20 for each bathroom sink —thinking that we would be pleased to use the kind of ugly drop-in sink one finds in spec houses.

Lesson learned: when comparing bids, request the contracting firms bidding on your project to leave out allowances for fixtures. A fixture allowance will never be realistic. Notice that John the contractor allocated funds for quality building materials because he knows his materials. This is what he does day in and day out. On the other hand, he couldn’t possibly guess what every client’s taste level will dictate. In addition, when bidding against other contractors, why would he inflate his proposal with fixture allowances for $250 sinks when a $20 sink will get the job done just the same. Even though the more expensive sink is probably closer to what you may desire.

“Do $20 sinks really exist?”

There was a time when a sink was a sink and that was it! This is not the case today. I suggest you go forth to the plumbing stores, shop, compare and get a sense of your style. Also, what is invaluable is to find a knowledgeable plumbing sales person to work with. Ask your contractor or designer who they recommend. Seasoned plumbing sales people can be a wealth of information on setting you on the right path.



Laurie Burke, connected to the design and construction industry since 1996. A seasoned residential kitchen and bath design specialist , Laurie has designed thousands of kitchens & baths as well as other cabinetry projects requiring technical precision in design drafting utilizing state of the art 2020 software for creating accurate plans and elevations. Through on- going product knowledge training and a desire to always stay current with an evolving marketplace, Laurie Burke maintains a strong command of knowing the appropriate Fit & Finish materials required for a residential remodel to meet the budget, the timeline of a project and a client's need for a finished product that meets their satisfaction. Kitchen Designer by trade, foodie, techie, weekend traveler for fun. For more information contact me at

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