For years, building spec homes with only the most basic appliances seemed the norm. The idea was to put in good, reliable products, but keep the process simple. Upgrades were possible but didn’t generally aid profits, so they were—for most builders—more of a hassle than anything else. Oddly enough, builders seemed more likely to upgrade faucets than appliances. Then the housing bubble burst, and things changed considerably. With the resurgence of homebuilding bringing back stiff competition, what part does building with premium appliances play in making a sale?
I’d say quite a bit. In fact, building with premium appliances can really set you apart from the competition and win over clients who truly value the “most important room in the house”.
Who is Building with Premium Appliances
This article is geared towards the builder, decorator, or even the remodeling Pro who either specs kitchens, or remodels them. Still, the serious DIYer may also take away some valuable information, so keep reading. Over the years, we’ve noticed many kitchen trends and pitfalls. One trend seems to stand above all others: remodeling using premium appliances. Whether it’s a voluntary redesign, or an insurance claim remodel, premium appliances are flying into kitchens faster than ever before.
One sure way to increase customer satisfaction and raise the level of your work is to carefully consider the appliances you install. After all, this is where the homeowner is destined to spend a considerable amount of time both cooking and entertaining. Kitchens matter, and choosing appliances that enhance the home ranks highest on our recommendation list.
In a Proverbial Nutshell
What we’re getting at is very simple: you have competition. If you’re a remodeler, you constantly bid against other remodelers. What’s going to set you apart? While you may not need every job, if you go through a bid process you want to win the project. What sets you apart? There are times when the lowest bidder wins, but that’s almost never the case when talking about kitchens. Kitchens—particularly when the owners have already been through the “starter” phase—are ripe for upgrades. If you spec a home or remodel with only the most rudimentary appliances, you’re going to come across as bland and unimpressive.
That could be costing you a lot of business!
Contrast that with a contractor or remodeler who specs premium appliances. Those impress. They make the work of a kitchen easier. They will update and upgrade the overall home value. According to a 2014 study by Remodeler Magazine, a kitchen remodel can recoup as much as 80% or more of its value upon sale of the home. That’s to say nothing of the appeal to the homeowner who gets to use and enjoy that kitchen during their time owning the home.
Case in Point: Bosch Appliances
We have used Bosch appliances for years. My first Bosch was a dishwasher that defied trends with its incredibly quiet operation and triple racks. But Bosch makes more than just great dishwashers, so we’ll use them to illustrate some of the things that can really win over consumers and increase your appeal as a contractor or remodeler. Overall, I’ve found them to match the three criteria most important to increasing appeal and profitability: Sleek design, energy efficiency, and advanced features & functionality. Let’s go through all three to explain why each of these can justify building with premium appliances or spec’ing them in a remodeling project.
New appliances are wonderful, but premium consumer-level appliances have a look that typically surpasses what you find in “builder-grade” models. For Bosch, that includes things like hidden control panels and surfaces (dishwashers and refrigerators) as well as quiet operation. While their dishwashers are the quietest in the industry, even their refrigerators and ovens do well at eliminating noise pollution in the kitchen.
We love the look of stainless steel, but it’s not all the same. On their dishwashers, Bosch uses models with stainless steel both inside and out. Even their less expensive Ascenta series—made in North Carolina—has stainless steel tub walls set down into a plastic base. When the door is inevitably opened on that appliance, the internals will look as good as the outside finish.
What’s Sleeker Than a Fridge?
On refrigerators, French door designs are all the rage. Models with a single lower drawer, however, are getting a bad rap as being difficult to organize. The Bosch B21CL81SNS 36 inch Counter Depth French Door Bottom Freezer 800 Series offers that beautiful stainless steel look and French door functionality. It just does it with dual bottom freezer doors.
The inside is just as impressive. Open it, and you’re greeted with a full-width chiller drawer with an adjustable divider. A retractable shelf also lets you fit taller 2-liter bottles and other large items.
This Bosch refrigerator offers a super-clean look on account of it hiding the ice dispenser within the top freezer drawer. With an appliance like this, the idea would be that you’d install a water filter and dispenser at the sink. We did something similar in our home with a Franke DW12080 cold water dispenser and filtration system.
Solid Surface Meets Induction
When it comes to ovens, solid surface is the way to go for that clean look. For an even bigger step into the future, however, induction rules the day. An appliance like the Bosch HIIP055U 30″ induction range features a smooth black glass top that really steps up the look of any kitchen. Induction ovens are also a conversation piece—making this oven one of the few appliances that can impress with its futuristic (but practical) cooking technology. Any foodie (or hobbyist chef) will appreciate just how quickly it heats and cooks. Actually, anyone who has watched a few minutes of the food network channel has been exposed to the advanced technology of induction cooking. This is one upgrade that is super-attractive in any modern kitchen upgrade or remodel.
Microwaves may seem run-of-the-mill, but I’ve seen these botched more often than not. Designs falter with too much emphasis placed on features and not aesthetics. Bosch does a nice job of pairing both with its OTR (over-the-range) models. Of course, the latest trend includes push-button drawer microwaves which eliminate reaching up to insert and remove food. Still, a good over-the-range model can strike a mix of practical and upscale when done correctly. Bosch doesn’t clutter the front of their microwaves. They’re sleek, easy-to-use, and lack offensive front-facing grills or vents like some other brands we’ve seen and used.
Building with Premium Appliances for Energy Efficiency
As more and more consumers consider the environment, being able to tout energy efficiency can give you a real leg up. EnergyStar rated appliances are almost a must, but not all “energy efficient” appliances are the same. Some models go too far, sacrificing quality and productivity for energy efficiency—you know who you are! Bosch, in particular, seems to strike a nice balance. I like, for example, the efficiency of their Ascenta dishwashers. In a typical year, Bosch estimates their EnergyStar-certified dishwashers (any of them, in fact) will use just 624 gallons of water and consume just 269 kWh of power. That’s less than $32/year operating cost for electric!
As you consider energy efficiency, it’s hard to ignore washers and dryers. For this, Bosch doesn’t have a ton of options for the single family homeowner. If, however, you’re remodeling a condo, small apartment, or anything that requires space-savings, Bosch has you covered. Their 24″ Compact Washer 800 Series washer and condensation dryer (WAT28402UC and WTG86402UC) are one of few compact EnergyStar rated systems on the market. These 24-inch washers and dryers can be stacked or mounted side by side with optional pedestal drawers.
The condensating dryer is also a thing to behold. It dries clothes without the need for exterior or interior venting. The washer even plugs into the dryer so that you can run everything off a single 240V circuit. Again, this will mostly appeal to those applications where a pair of 24-inch compact laundry products is desired, but the advanced features and ultra-quiet 63 dBA SPL running are hard to ignore.
Advanced Features & Functionality
If you’re considering how to differentiate yourself by building with premium appliances, advanced features may do the most to win over your clients. While lots of appliances look good, features and performance matter. These real-world advancements in technology take your kitchen appliances and truly give consumers something to talk about and look forward to using. Want to sell a kitchen? Show off appliances with advanced technology that will impress whoever is going to find themselves in there the most. We already discussed induction ranges. That’s one of the most impressive pieces of technology to hit the kitchen in quite some time. While still priced at a premium, induction cooking is so far ahead in convenience and functionality, those who try it almost never go back. Quick heating, flexible timers, multiple and instant levels of heating—induction has it all.
When it comes to ovens, however, Bosch also includes features like a telescoping top shelf for easy access to your primary dishes. You can get convection cooking for a nice, even heating of your food. Temperature probes are available, and even the lighting and door windows in Bosch’s premium appliances have received welcome upgrades.
Dishwashers Can Be High-Tech?
When it comes to Dishwashers, Bosch blows away most of the competition with its InfoLight system that literally shines a red dot on the floor to let you know when the dishwasher is running. Their 500-series and up feature a third rack for utensils and other items, maximizing space and helping you get more dishes clean in less time. Finally, interior lighting in their Benchmark dishwashers sets a new bar for what a premium dishwasher should provide.
On refrigerators, some of the shelving options have already been discussed, but Bosch uses a Dual AirCool system to deliver even temperatures. It also reduces the transfer of odors between the refrigerator and freezer. Their B21 series of fridges also include two humidity controlled CrisperDrawers to help keep food fresh for longer periods of time. Finally, it’s the little things that always seem to impress. An advanced refrigerator will have LED lighting to provide illumination without the heat. These new lights also last as long as your fridge and never have to be replaced.
It’s not just foodies who like their food fresh. Products like the Bosch Benchmark refrigerators use SuperCooling and SuperFreezing tech to temporarily drop the temperature of the fridge or freezer sections when new food is added. This keeps everything where it needs to be and helps your food cool faster.
Wrap It Up. I’ll Take It!
Think all stainless appliances are the same? Or that energy efficiency doesn’t matter, and tech is invisible? That can’t be more wrong. When you put it all together, upgrades matter. Building with premium appliances can land you more business and differentiate you from your competition. You’ll become known as the builder or remodeler who “builds the nice kitchens”. Word of mouth is your best friend. As your reputation for offering premium products grows, you’ll find that you end up with higher-paying clients who, more and more, appreciate the attention to detail and quality products.
Not everything should go premium in a new home or remodel, but the kitchen only (hopefully) gets done once. Why not steer your clients to something they’ll truly enjoy and, more importantly, tell others about. Building with premium appliances can do just that.
For more information on current Bosch home appliances, check out their website.