Printed from at 03:07 PM, Jan 18 2017
Talk » Renovation » Discussing 'custom built-ins'

custom built-ins


Do custom built-ins always add value? say next to a fireplace in a living room - bookcases and storage?

Not always. It depends on the buyer. I think custom radiator cover with storage does but not so much with other built ins

I don't think so. When I was looking at apartments, I frequently factored in the cost of having to take out custom built-ins that I didn't like.

Never build built-in cabinetry expecting to increase home value. Always do it for your own taste and convenience, expecting no additional value.

I don't usually agree with NYCMatt, but he is spot on with this one.

And some buyers will insist that you, the seller, remove them and deliver the apartment all patched and painted. And then you hope the deal closes.

What about building custom closets when there was none before? Does the same no value added rule apply?

do you mean outfitting existing closets with custom built ins? i can't imagine anyone paying any sort of premium for closet organization, except in an expensive short term rental. closets and vanities tend to be a pretty personal thing. there are many products out there that mimic the built in look and efficiency that are not permanent. unless the built ins are excellent quality, classic styling, solid wood, would withstand time and be worth salvaging/refacing by the future owners, it's actually a negative for the home, imho.

I agree with the posters who say custom built-ins should not be considered an investment resale-wise. While I've never heard of a buyer insisting on the seller demo'ing prior to closing, I do know that very often the buyer will factor in the cost of demo/replacement of built-ins when making an offer. The more elaborate the built-ins, the more they may impact resale.

That said, if you have a unit with original built-in features (prewar with an original library, for example) THAT can add value. People tend to like original details, especially those from a bygone era.

there are also lots of ways to customize your closet on the cheap without making anything permanent. this ikea thing looks ok, and i'm sure has all the pluses and minuses that go with ikea.

this thing from walmart is super cheap and seems ok for the job, no drawers though

before you build anything permanent into the walls of your home, try to get the info on all your options, because you have many.

Most built-ins I've ever seen, I would rip out.

But most of the interiors I love (decor mags/IRL) have many built-ins.

It's the old story ... you get what you pay for.

Well-designed, well-built, solid, quality materials cost money. Most people want a wall of built-ins for under $5,000. That much will not get you what you see in decor mags by a long shot.

It's not just whether it's a "quality" built-in. It matters if it the built-ins are part of a well-designed whole.

I believe that's part of the "quality".

Low-quality very rarely looks good.

Of course, for many people (myself included, I have to admit), when they find out how much those decor mag-worthy built ins would cost, figure that if they're going to shell out $12,000 for furniture, they'd darn well better be able to take it with them when they eventually move out.

I understand the part about personal but my situation is this: we are thinking about taking a 7x4 walk in closet with one shelf in it and bumping it out a few feet to be 7x6, and putting in california style closets. the extra 2 feet doesn't in my opinion make the bedroom "too" small (still over 15feet wide). Are you guys/gals really saying that this is unattractive to a buyer? That there is no value added? this is the master bedroom (only bedroom) in a jr 4 if it makes a difference. Thoughts? thx

drums - as long as the bedroom doesn't get too narrow (and it sounds as if it wouldn't) I think it would add value. But I think the closet has to be outfitted well - none of the wire stuff. Solid wood, draweers built in under the hanging rods, shelves, etc. could be great (at least that's what people say when they see my husband's closet).

If you have the width in the bedroom, you might want to make the closet slightly wider than 6 ft, as clothing hanging on each side will reduce the center to a slightly tight 2 feet - even bringing that to 30" could make a big difference.

But again, I agree with Matt in that you really need to look at this for your own use going forward.

the added value would be coming from the larger size of the closet, not the way you outfit it. you should plan the organization part of your closet only to fit your own needs, and not expect any kind of premium. or, rather, the only premium over a similar apartment would be the BIGGER closet. not the california closet.

Closet space is a huge issue in junior-4s marketed to couples, so I think you're making the right move.

As buyers, we ruled out plenty of spaces due to lack of closet space. We saw a couple of pre-war apartments that had no closet whatsoever in the apartment, and even some of the new construction has surprisingly small closets.

We have a 6' x 5' walk-in and a double coat closet right now in our 760 square foot one bed + den. In the course of our renovation, we are adding five additional closets -- three clothes closets, one very deep linen closet, and an A/V closet -- without sacrificing much usable square footage. It will be heaven.

Does a custom built in look better than a off the shelf media center from say Room and Board. Would love thoughts. Thx!

With few exceptions, custom built-ins -- done properly -- look better than anything you can get off the shelf.

Just posted in the other thread. The Room and Board stuff looks very nice. Solid, well-built. I'd be inclined to spend my thousands on those pieces (that I can take with me when I move) than to invest even more on comparable-quality built-ins.

Great points Matt! Which other furniture company stacks up to R&B? I want a white media center and some of the nice places like Boconcept don't have white. Any thoughts on how Pottery Barn stacks up? Any other places to consider as I short list the furniture places?

Aside from my favorite, Stickley (25th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues), I don't have any *places* per se.

But here's what to look for:

-- dovetailed joinery
-- screws and glue are fine, as long as you can't see the glue (which would be a sign of shoddy construction)
-- dowels
-- reinforcing corner blocks
-- *solid* hardwood throughout
-- if you must do plywood make sure it's 9+ layers
-- drawers should run smoothly on glides
-- all legs touching the floor
-- does not "squeak" or creak when you lift the unit at one corner
-- drawers: "floating" bottoms, dust panels between drawers


-- "manufactured" woods like MDF, particle board, pressboard, fiberboard, etc.
-- veneers (they're pretty until they chip or get nicked, then you're screwed)
-- knots or cracks in the wood (do not believe the salesman when he says they're "character marks")
-- soft, easily scratched surfaces
-- any thing using staples or nails to hold it together


Wouldnt it be great if everyone can afford solid wood for their millwork. If you have something made from an inexpensive wood such as Oak or Maple you are looking a 25% increase in cost from a veneer, if you want a much nicer finish like mahogany, ash or cherry than you are talking about 40%. Most architects will spec out veneers with solid edging 1/8 to1/4". That is what most architects and people use.

I see no advantage whatsoever in having solid wood for millwork. It's warpy (some more than others) in a way that plywood is not. Particleboard eliminates the grain altogether, so no warp. Veneer gives you the advantages of the substrate, plus the look of the top layer. Best of all worlds.

Wanting solid for the sake of solid is like wanting custom for the sake of custom, without really knowing why off-the-shelf isn't good enough for you.

Particleboard is not "green". It offgasses toxins YEARS after manufacture. If it gets wet, it's ruined. If it gets chipped, it's ruined.


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