When you sit down with a builder for the first time, one of the first things you'll naturally ask is what is included in the builder's standard package. The builder will hand you some paperwork with a lot of good-looking fine print.
What builder isn't going to stuff those standard specifications with everything he can find to make it look like you're getting a ton of value for a high price tag? But if you look a bit more closely, you're going to see that something isn't right.
A lot of what you might see in those specifications are items that are simply required by code. Others are items that aren't really necessary for the house but justify the cost. 2x6 walls sound stronger, but they aren't really needed and simply drive up the cost. You'll also find some items that are downright deceitful, like certain allowances. I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Don't fall for complicated words and things that sound premium. A builder's specification might include that the builder only uses 3500 psi concrete for the home's foundation. Could you go look at a foundation and say that it's 3500 psi concrete? If the builder didn't use it, would you really know? Items like that are designed to draw you in and give you the false sense that because there are a lot of things on the list, the list must be good.
The builder's plan will say that it costs $80 per square foot for the house with a $3,000 cabinet allowance. You might not realize it when you see the specification, but there's no way that you'll be able to put all of the cabinets in for $3,000. You may spend $6,000. Well, then the price per square foot isn't really $80, is it?
The bottom line is that a lot of builders will use a long list of specifications to blindfold you so that you don't realize that you're paying more for the home than you need to.