Keep the Money and the Jobs at Home by Buying American Products

All homeowners want to do their remodeling projects as inexpensively as possible—that’s just common sense. Traditionally, this meant buying products and materials made overseas. But it looks like a change in American attitudes is taking place, according to a survey conducted by Consumer Reports. More than 60 percent of all respondents said they would spend 10 percent more for American-made products, and more than 25 percent said they would spend 20 percent more. If you’re thinking about remodeling your home, consider using only American-made materials. You can make a positive impact on the economy and in our communities while updating your home.

Why the Shift?

To meet the demand for inexpensive products, U.S. manufacturers and contractors looked overseas. Many overseas manufacturers cut prices until American manufacturers could no longer afford to make the same products. Oftentimes, the quality of both the materials and construction were lowered as well, to be able to sell the items at a lower price in the American market.

American consumers are now concerned with the quality of manufacturing and materials from overseas. They are aware of the wage practices and working conditions impacting offshore workers. Strict U.S. standards in construction and manufacturing and stringent labor laws mean American consumers know upfront what they are buying and how employees were treated while they made the product. Even with a higher initial cost, these products are more economical in the long run, because they don’t have to be replaced or repaired as often.

What to Expect When Looking for Materials Made in America

Last year, 84 Lumber Company challenged American builders and remodelers to build a home using 95 percent American-made materials in its “We Build American†campaign. At the completion of the initial home, the company discovered the total cost was only one percent higher than the estimate using overseas materials. The challenge lead to the discovery of what products were no longer made in the U.S. or were made by only one or two companies. Some things the “We Build American†project learned:

  • Nails. There is only one nail producer in the U.S., and the prices were higher and the wait time for the order longer.
  • Microwaves and doorbells. These are not made at all in the U.S.
  • Nuts and bolts. These are no longer made in the U.S., but comparable products can be obtained from heavy equipment manufacturers.
  • Light switches and electrical sockets. There is one U.S. supplier of these, and its product was slightly more expensive and of higher quality.
  • Drywall screws. Another item made by limited U.S. manufacturers for a higher price.
  • Lighting fixtures. American-made products are available but limited in designs.
  • Plumbing fixtures. As with lighting, American-made can be found in limited choices.
  • Appliances. There are limited choices that use more than 80 percent American components.
  • Electronic devices. Nearly all electronic equipment is manufactured outside of the U.S.

Filling the Gaps

The good news for consumers is there are companies that custom-make products from American components. For example, Champion Home Exteriors makes windows, doors, vinyl siding, sunrooms and roofing systems in its factories in Cincinnati and Denver. Local cabinetmakers can custom-make kitchen cabinets with American materials. Countertop specialists can create granite, concrete or wood-based kitchen counters for you.

With a little research, you can find local manufacturers of American-made home remodeling components. Your money stays in the community and you help support the jobs created by these home-town companies.

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