`Builder Grade` Materials and Comparing apples to apples:
By: Denis Sherlock ~
As a contractor you learn to bid projects using builder grade materials as that is how most of your compatition is going to do it and of course you would like a chance to win the bid as well.
Builder grade is kind of a generic term for lumber or materials used by developers and builders on new houses. They are not bad materials in fact they are usually very good quality as far as lumber goes, so it is what I would recommend for deck framing, plywood and misc framing lumber (way better than box store lumber).
However some people have very nice homes in very nice parts of town so they may be interested something a little nicer. For instance if one contractor bids to use 5/4 cedar decking (a fine product) and another bids to use redwood or and exotic hardwood, the estimates would be drastically different. One citation where you may choose to go with a premium product would be if you were looking to build a gazebo or an out door patio roof structure. The exposed wood that you wanted to stain and make look real nice you may not want to use wood that was meant to be inside or under a deck.
Comparing grades of materials is not just limited to lumber, as it applies to all building materials, and some may be a matter of opinion. I believe door and window builders use good quality but may lack style. If you plan to be in your home for a long time you may want to go with a premium brand. If you are fixing a rental house you may choose to go with things you can get a deal on, like builder grade carpet, vinyl and interior doors.
So If you are comparing estimates ask them what materials they are using and be sure to compare apples to apples.
If you are going to splurge on quality items I would suggest cabinets, siding, and paint, you will be glad you did.