Young Alfred


Home Insurance and Interior Home Quality: Economy vs Builder's Grade vs Custom vs Designer Grade?

April 10, 2019

Home finishings are typically divided into the following different quality grades:

  1. Economy Grade
  2. Builder's Grade
  3. Semi-Custom Grade
  4. Custom Grade
  5. Designer or Luxury Grade

In home insurance, it is important to determine how much coverage you need for the replacement cost of your interior finishings. If you underinsure, you could be stuck with a coinsurance penalty. The difference between an economy and designer grade interior can change the required coverage by 100%. Below is a description of each interior type, from the most basic to the most luxurious.

Economy Grade

Economy grade interiors are made of the lowest quality materials and only meet minimum building code requirements. The finishings have few details and use the most inexpensive options available. Economy grade homes will have the following:

Economy grade cabinets are made of the cheapest particle board. Only serving functional purposes, these cabinets have little to no attention to detail.

Countertops in economy grade homes are made from the least expensive plastic or laminate fixed to a low-quality plywood base.

Economy grade interiors include minimal facilities with a stove/oven, sink, and refrigerator in the kitchen. The bathroom has a basic quality toilet, shower/tub, sink, and mirror.

The fixtures include minimal quality plumbing and wiring, low-cost lighting, and limited electrical outlets.

Floors are made of the least expensive wood and may use an inexpensive vinyl, carpeting, or other cheap material.

Builder's Grade
Empty Kitchen With White Wooden Cabinet
Builder's grade finishings are usually made of the most affordable medium-grade materials. This is the most common finishing type in America. While quality may vary between products, here's what you can typically expect from builder grade interiors.

Builder's grade cabinets are typically made of standard quality plywood or fiberboard. These cabinets tend to be mass produced and may have a plastic or wooden veneer.

The countertop is normally made of ceramic tile or laminated plastic on a particle board base. These counters are made from average quality materials.

Builder's grade facilities will include standard-quality appliances such as an oven, stove, refrigerator, sink, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and exhaust fan in the kitchen. Similarly, the bathroom will have a cast iron or synthetic tub/shower, ceramic or synthetic countertops, a standard toilet bowl, single vanity, towel bar, framed mirror, and medicine cabinet.

Builder's grade homes have basic light and plumbing fixtures using mass-produced and pre-built options. These homes have adequate light fixtures and minimal electrical outlets.

The floors are typically constructed with wood or steel joints. Common floor coverings include low-cost carpet, vinyl, or hardwood and cost between $2 to $7 per square foot.

Semi-Custom or Above Average Grade
Kitchen and Dining Area
Semi-custom grade interiors consist of partially upgraded finishings and higher quality materials than builders grade ones. Here you'll find the characteristics of semi-custom finishings.

Instead of plywood, semi-custom cabinets are made of wood. Cabinets may be pantry-style and have corner cabinets with revolving doors. Semi-custom cabinets can offer more precise fits for your kitchen.

Semi-custom countertops and back splashes have laminated plastic or solid surfaces that are higher quality than economy countertops. 

The facilities of semi-custom homes include the same appliances and fixtures as builder's grade interiors. However, these items are of higher quality than economy features and have additional features. For example, a drinking water filter, recessed medicine cabinet, non-slip surfaces, and elongated toilet bowl are some facilities typical of semi-custom builds. The most common toilets are “comfort height,” and are 17 to 19 inches high.
will it flush american standard GIF

Semi-custom interiors have above average fixtures and additional outlets.

A suitable combination of decent quality hardwood, vinyl, carpet, and ceramic tile are typical of semi-custom interiors.

Custom Grade
Kitchen Island and Barstools
Custom grade finishings are built on-site and are custom-made by a carpenter, instead of mass-produced. You'll know you have a custom interior if your home has the following:

Custom cabinets, pantries, and islands are made of high-quality materials by cabinetmakers. A solid bolt construction, beams, heavy-duty fasteners, and three-way adjustment hinges are standard features.

Custom counters are made of high-end synthetic marble or ceramic tile.

High-quality appliances, a second oven, built-in vent hood, and a tap for boiling water are common custom grade finishings. Bathrooms will have features such as a spa tub, colored enamel, two sinks, marble countertops, solid wood cabinets, two recessed mirror cabinets, and recessed toilet paper holders.

Typically, custom interiors have the maximum number of high-quality fixtures, expensive lighting, and professional craftsmanship.

A combination of high-end solid hardwood flooring, tiles, and vinyl is common for custom grade homes. 

Designer or Luxury Grade
Image result for cribs kitchens
Luxury grade interiors contain handmade, brand name, and designer finishings. These homes have the highest-quality craftsmanship and materials.

Designer grade cabinets are custom-built and made of the most durable solid wood. These cabinets may have pull-out drawers and special lighting features. Exceptional attention to detail and craftsmanship characterize luxury grade cabinets.

Luxury countertops and back splashes are often made of marble or granite. These counters are mounted to the best-quality wood.

Kitchens in designer grade homes may have built-in ovens, microwaves, food processors, dishwashers, trash compactors, luxury refrigerators, and sub-zero freezers. A designer bathroom typically has a bidet, colored spa tub and shower, marble or granite counters, and high-end wood cabinets. A glass shower enclosure, double recessed medicine cabinets, framed mirrors, and a towel warmer are also standard.

Designer grade interiors have expensive lighting fixtures and the maximum number of electrical outlets. The plumbing will feature high-quality fixtures installed with skilled workmanship.

A luxury grade home will have an optimal combination of the best-quality floor materials. Floors may be made of hardwoods, marble and granite tile, designer carpeting, or terrazzo.
Knowing what interior grade rating your home finishings have can help you determine how much coverage you need for the replacement cost value on your homeowner's insurance. You'll have peace of mind knowing that you're not over- or underinsured, and have the right amount of protection in place in the event of a total loss.

Now you know how home insurance carriers look at the quality of interior finishings! Make sure you get adequate coverage for your finishings when you purchase home insurance. 

At your service,
Young Alfred

subscribe icon

Want to get notifications
about new posts?

phone 215.586.5055 close
Do you need help with insurance? Get Quotes