Building a Made in USA Addition

We’ve started building an addition to our house right now.  We’re adding a bedroom and 1.5 bathrooms to our very cramped house.  So, of course, we’re trying to get building materials and fixtures that are made in usa when possible.  Not as easy as you might think.  Below is our experience to date with the various items:

Lumber – no problem, it’s all domestic.

Bathtub – we got an acrylic Kohler tub, made in USA.  Acrylics are usually made in usa but the larger cast iron tubs are usually Chinese.   We really tried to get the fixtures for it from Moen or Delta or from Newport Brass, which are supposed to at least be assembled in USA.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the right configuration for what we needed, except from Cifial, which is made in Portugal.

Tile – we needed to match travertine to what we had now, and this is Mexican.  Most natural stone appears to be imported.  I don’t understand why.  We’re also getting ceramic tile, which is Datile and is made in USA.

Vanities – We tried extensively to get made in usa vanities and sink fixtures, but we just couldn’t pass up really modern complete vanity sets with sinks and faucets for a tiny fraction of what we would have paid for such things ($1600 vs. probably $7000).  These are made in China.  You can’t always buy Made in USA.  I’m willing to spend 30-50% more for Made in USA, or organic, or whatever, but not 400% more!

Toilets – we searched in vain for made in USA toilets.  The only ones I heard of were Elger, but they were nowhere near here.  Kohler and American Standard are made in Mexico!  Toto, a Japanese company, I’ve read, has some toilets made in Georgia (ironic, huh?) but we couldn’t find any such toilets where we shopped.  So we got pretty cheap imported toilets from Kohler.

Drywall – the contractor is buying this, but I checked with him and he said it’s made locally.

Lighting – same issue as the vanities.  We could have gotten American made lighting from Americanmadelighting.com for roughly 3-7 times the cost of the made in China lighting that we ordered.  I can’t afford that kind of difference right now.  So we spent about $250 instead of $1200.

Windows – we already have Magic Windows in our house, which are Canadian, so we bought additional ones from them.  They are unique in having a roller slide out screen.  I know of no such American-made windows

We have yet to do the roof, drywall, and electrical.  I know that the recessed lighting is all imported too.   So far, not a very fulfilling made in USA experience!

Update 11/29/09:

We’ve gotten our roof – the shingles are all made in USA :)  The drywall is American-made also.  The wire mesh for stucco and house wrap are also American.  We just ordered stone fascia from Coronado which is also made in Southern California.  So we’re doing ok so far.

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8 Responses to Building a Made in USA Addition

  1. pdq409 says:

    We bought custom Corian countertop and sink units made locally for our bathrooms and kitchen. This was not very expensive, and Corian wears well. It is also kinder to china than stone countertops are. Also, we bought bathroom cabinets from Decora Cabinets (decoracabinets.com), which is an American company. They cost a lot less than $7000.

    Marvin windows (marvin.com) is an American window and door company. Their windows are excellent quality, and they even carry double-paned windows.

    You can also get more information on American-made products for bathrooms, including sinks, toilets, and countertops, from sinksfaucetsandmore.com.

    I think whether and how much you end up buying American depends on your level of commitment. If you have to have stone counter tops and the latest fashions in bathrooms, you are limiting your options right there.

  2. Robert says:

    I notice you mention a lot about wanting to buy American, but that the price is too high. Of course it is, it’s Made in USA. Why would you think that something made in USA would be the same price as something made in China. If you want to buy American, you need to be willing to pay the price. Kohler makes toilets in the USA, my house is full of them. They just cost over $500 each.

    • That’s good to hear that Kohler still has toilets made in USA. I couldn’t find such toilets. Although I agree with you that we should be willing to pay more for made in USA products, there is a limit for everyone. I think that as long as we stay conscious and are always trying to choose the American made product, our economy will get huge benefits. Look at Bob Strollers on the made in usa strollers posting. They’re made in China but not at all cheaper than domestic products. Just because something is imported, doesn’t mean it is cheaper than domestic or will stay cheaper.

  3. Ben says:

    Mansfield plumbing has quite a few made in USA toilet options. Also try Symmons for made in USA faucet options.

  4. Brian Werleb says:

    Hansgrohe is a German faucet maker, but their faucets sold in the US are made in Georgia. Their faucets are very sleek and modern looking. They work great and are available at Costco (sometimes) and always on Amazon.

    Love your blog. We should always try to buy American when possible.

  5. Laura says:

    Do you know where Kohler vanities are made? Are they made in the USA? Thanks!

  6. Jamie says:

    There is a toilet made in the USA. The brand is Mansfield. They are worth every penny!

  7. We bought a Memoirs Statley Kohler toilet for a plumbing supply house in Raleigh NC. The plumber
    Installed it and the tank was leaning so far forward that you knew that it was not right. Contacted the plumbing supply house and they told us that they would order another one but we wpuld be responsible for the plumber’s fee for reinstalling the new one. Well, he just installed the new one and is also leaning forward just not as bad. So if you are considering a Kohler toilet DON’T.. If they can not stand behind their products and do the right thing for their consumers then their consumers should should know the true about their company! C

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