Are Bells and Whistles Coming Back?

Christina Lewellen
August 29, 2012
THE TALK... | Markets & Trends

Recently, the NAHB Research Center released its 2011 Annual Builder Practices Survey, which showed that bells and whistles in building products and home designs are making a comeback. “While the market has not yet returned to its pre-recession fixation with extravagance, signs are emerging of a resurgent demand for high-end finish materials in some product categories,” says Ed Hudson, who heads up market research efforts for the center.

Many builders tightened their belts when it came to luxury finishes in the recession to avoid falling short on appraisals and many consumers, concerned with the bottom line, sought out more frugal and modest finish options, he notes. Starting in 2011, however, the trend started to reverse. Among the products Hudson says are making a comeback are natural materials such as granite countertops, as well as wood floors and wood doors.

Have you seen a resurgence of upgrade options in the products you’re selling? Are more builders and consumers moving to wood or products with wood and other upscale finish options? Please take a moment to vote in our poll and consider sending me an email or posting a comment below to share what you’re seeing in the market. Are buyers willing to shake off the recession in favor of windows and doors with all the bells and whistles, or do we still have some healing yet to do?


Survey Results as of 09/04/2012 :

Do you see buyers going for upgrades in windows and doors?

It's about the same as it was through the recession





Yes, more frequently than a few years back





No, most buyers are staying away from upgrades





About a third of respondents see more window and door buyers willing to consider upgrades, but most don't see much of a change in the market yet. Those findings conflict somewhat with trends in the industry, it would seem, with more manufacturers offering more options, particularly in the vinyl segment. 

The past few years has seen a steady stream of vinyl window makers adding color and woodgrain options to their lines, as well as more hardware choices and some other specialties, such as between-the-glass blinds. 

Contact Christina Lewellen, senior editor, at

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