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7 Powerful Reasons to Ditch a Builders Grade Closet in Your New Home

I recently got a call from a homeowner in Powell Ohio who said to me, “Mike – there is NO WAY I’m putting in cheap wire closets in my new home,” and this was before her Columbus builder even started to dig the foundation!

Looking at this comment you have to wonder what is so bad about the “standard” closets most production and custom builders use. Many of these same builders are adding cool storage features in entryways and kitchens so why are the closets being ignored? The other question is, if their closets are so bad what can you, as a new home buyer, do to get better closet organization for your new home?

In this article we’ll look at two things:

  • 7 reasons you’ll want to get rid of the builders’ closets before your home is built.
  • 3 strategies on how to work with your builder to get an upgraded closet system.

Now – let’s take a look at the challenges of builders’ grade closet systems.

7 Reasons you’ll want to ditch builders grade wire closets

Reason 1 – You can’t fit your stuff in them

Well isn’t the reason you’ve got closets and storage space in the first place – to put your clothes, shoes, bags and stored neatly (or hopefully neatly) in your closet?  Of course it is. The problem is with the standard wire closets you’ll usually get there is only one row of hanging space in the closet. While this might have worked if you were a farmer in the 1950’s (back then they had small closets and a set of work clothes and “Sunday” clothes) but for the modern Central Ohio family this ain’t gonna cut it! At a minimum you’ll need double hanging sections to fit your current clothes.  

It will also be helpful to have a custom closet designed specifically for what you store, how tall you are, and one that can adjust to your future needs (the single rod and shelf closet system is not adjustable).

Reason 2- There is no place for shoe storage

Since these closets only have the rod and shelf at the top there is no effective shoe storage. You may be asking, “what’s wrong with putting shoes on the floor like I’ve always done?” If you think about shoe storage on the floor it’s tough to see what’s there and you have to bend over (which can be tough if your back doesn’t work as well as it used to) to get them. Modern closet design best practices are to “raise your shoes up” so they can be displayed proudly, and most importantly, so you can get them out easily.

'It's time to raise your shoes up in a modern #closet design.' Click To Tweet

shoe storage in custom columbus closet

Shoes can be “displayed” when they are off the floor

Reason 3 – Who wants “new” lines on their sweaters and sweatshirts?   

If you use the single top shelf to store sweaters and shirts on the wire shelving you’ll see you get some brand spankin’ new lines on your sweaters! If the sweater had a stripped design already you might say this is OK – but in most cases you’ll want to iron these lines out (a waste of your time). With custom closet systems made with laminate shelving you won’t have to worry about lines.

Reason 4 – The wire shelving screams out “cheap!”  

If you’re like most people your largest single investment is your new home (it doesn’t matter if this home is in Pickerington, Dublin, New Albany – whatever) and our homes (and mortgages – bummer!) take up a big part of your disposable income. When friends and neighbors see your new laid out master bedroom and bathroom do you really want them to see a cheap and flimsy closet system adjacent to those rooms? What’s cool is you can get a custom closet with scores of wood finishes – but made with a laminate surface so they are affordable. These decisions can compliment the woodwork and architectural style in the adjoining rooms.

Reason 5 – You can’t adjust the shelving or closet rods – the problem of a “one size fits” builders closet  

So maybe your vertically challenged (that is the politically correct term for shorter than you’d like to be) or you’ve got growing kids. The challenge of a one size fits all closet is not everyone in your family is the same size…and in the case of your younger kids they are growing like weeds. If your closet is “stationary” (with fixed un-adjustable shelves) it cannot be changed as your family (or who(m) uses the closet) changes.

'A stationary builders grade #closet won't adjust with your families needs.' Click To TweetWith a custom closet there are up to 66 different increment holes in the shelving so you can move shelves and rods to fit your needs.

adjustable custom closet vs. unadjustable builders closet columbus

Reason 6 – Wire closets detract from your ability to resell the home  

You may be saying why should I be concerned about resale – I’m just in the process of buying this home? Well the reality is the average American will move 11.7 times in their lifetime (WOW!) and as you know many things can happen to drive your need to move. Who knows if you’ll get relocated, need to move closer to an aging parent or want to move to a better school system etc. Being thoughtful about where you put value in your home will be important when you go to sell (so you get a return on your investment).

Since one of the top 3 reasons statistically why people move is to gain space and storage you’ll want to make sure your closets (especially the master closet) is a room in your home prospective new owners will love vs. it being a negative to selling your home. A custom closet which can be adjusted (especially one that is keep neat and clean when your realtor is showing your home) will be an asset to selling the home.

Reason 7 – Builders grade closets are just plain flimsy

Have you ever experienced shelves which sag and aren’t standing up to the weight you put on them? With thin wire you may experience the product bend under the weight over time. With ¾” thick laminate shelving you’ll have a sturdy system which is able to hold up to 125 lbs. over a 24” span. 

How you can work with your Columbus production or custom builder to get an upgraded closet system

What is comforting is there are a number of excellent production and custom builders in Columbus who are customer service oriented and want to make you happy. You’ll find most builders willing to work with you (not everyone mind you – but most) to get you the home you want. Here are 3 specific strategies you can use to get a custom closet even if your builder does not offer them currently:

Strategy 1 – See if the builder will work together with a custom closet company for your project

When it gets right down to it Columbus home builders (or home builders in any town for that matter) are in business to make a buck. Adding a custom closet can be a profit opportunity for them. I would recommend asking your builder if you can work with a custom closet company on a design and have them include this extra into your contract.

custom closet design with drawers doors and counter space colulmbus

For the builder this will require them to create a new relationship – but it also gives them a long term opportunity to increase profits (obviously something they will like). In this scenario you’ll be able to roll this into your mortgage.

Strategy 2 – Ask for a credit and do the custom closet after your home is closed

In most cases closets are done near the end of your home construction process and they do not impact other trades work. Since there isn’t a lot of value put into the closet the credit the builder will give you won’t be too big, making it easier for them to work with you on this. Meet with your custom closet company before the home is finished so they can design, manufacture and schedule your project for installation right after you close on your new home.  

Strategy 3 – DIY your custom closet

If you’re the type who likes to do it yourself you can consider doing your own custom design. This will save you money – but you’ll also want to make sure you understand and are knowledgeable so you don’t have to live with an expensive design mistake.


The reality is standard builders grade wire closets aren’t the best. While this may be true it’s not a difficult process to get a custom closet (especially if you use a professional closet designer to help you!). With a bit of coordination on your end you’ll get a space which works best for you and your family for years to come.


If you want more information on a Cleveland or Columbus custom closet call Innovate Home Org in Columbus at 614-545-6888 or 216-658-1290.

Follow the author on Twitter @Mike_Foti or our companies’ @InnovateBuild and @InnovateHomeOrg.


Mike Foti

Mike Foti is the President of Innovate Home Org, a division of Innovate Building Solutions. You can learn more about Mike here.

Mike Foti

Mike Foti is the President of Innovate Home Org, a division of Innovate Building Solutions. You can learn more about Mike here.

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