Low-Cost Remodels, a Threat to our Environment?
February 5, 2010
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Is this recession a wake-up call from reckless consumerism? Or an invitation to buy subpar quality items that will reflect badly on our environment?
Both. What we have here is a conundrum. We have an entire new dynamic that has created a brand new monster. The consumerism of the early 2000’s is what sent this country crashing down in 2008. Some people have taken the high road and chosen to look at our past recklessness as a learning experience of how better to live for our future. Others, have taken full advantage of the economic crisis by selling low quality products that may push us further into our next environmental crisis that is soon to come.
While recently touring a local Sacramento warehouse wholesaler of flooring, cabinetry and granite who advertise lowest prices, their formula was clear as day. Low overhead, imported prefabricated products and commission based salespeople is the key to their success. Looking closer with my seasoned eye, their formula was even more clear, the products were just the lowest quality imaginable. Kitchens cabinets for $1,500, flooring for less than .90cents per square foot, and granite slabs starting at $80. If being in the Kitchen Industry for 15 years has taught me anything, it’s that this place was nothing but a scam.
While walking away, I was filled with dozens of conflicted emotions. Disgust was the first, because what I have grown to become as a Designer represents that of integrity, quality, and to be regardful of my clients best interests. Anger was the second, anger for the all of the jobs that have been lost to this, and alike companies simply based on price. And the last was regret, for all of those people who have purchased these crappy products who will have to replace them in 5 years because they fall apart, and for the poor slave-like laborers who make these dirt-cheap products for us Americans for pennies an hour.
My last emotion of regret is where the environmental issue comes into play- we all know that the construction industry creates the most waste over any other industry. When one buys a product that does not last (no matter what the product is), it is not “Green”. The “Greenness” of a product is based on its lifecycle. So if someone installs a kitchen with new sheetrock, paint, cabinets, countertops, flooring and appliances, but that kitchen only lasts them 5 years, that person is creating twice as much waste and environmental damage. If you do your kitchen the right way, using quality products and materials, chances are, that kitchen can last 30-60 years, and in some cases more.
Half of the problem is home investors or home “flippers”. Because our housing market is prime for these “flippers” they are renovating like crazy, and using the cheapest possible materials.
It is not just me that feels this way, it is all Kitchen and Remodeling Industry Professionals as a whole. In this economic climate, the best thing to do it what I do best, and that is design beautiful, quality kitchens and keep educating my clients, support quality products and keep designing and selling with integrity.
by Nicolette Patton