Keeping costs down is always a concern among builders, but perhaps not the biggest concern when it comes to product selection. For its 2015 Brand Use Study, Builder magazine surveyed nearly 2,300 home builders on their brand preferences in 70 product categories. For 45 of those categories, builders were asked to rank a series of factors that contribute to their product selections. Rather than price, product performance received the highest ranking in 43 out of 45 categories, followed by availability of products from their dealer, warranty, and then price.

There were only two categories in which product performance was outranked by another product selection factor. It came in second to price as the top consideration when selecting stock cabinetry. In the carpet category, availability from the builder's dealer was the top consideration, followed by warranty, price, and product performance.

Openness on pricing could be one reason that nearly two-thirds of surveyed builders (63%) say they're "somewhat more" or "much more" willing to try brands other than the ones they're currently specifying. That percentage stays rather even across regions, number of unit built, and average sale price, though more expensive homes seem to be an easier venue to try something new. A full 70% of builders of $500,000 homes and up are willing to try new products. Looking for advanced features, and building new and different types of homes were the top two reasons builders say they're looking for new brands.

Traditionally, Builder's Brand Use Study shows that the largest and most well-known manufacturers usually top the lists of brands specified most frequently. That holds true for 2015, though builders looking to try new products may want to make note of some smaller or less familiar brands that rank high in quality.

For instance, H-P Products' Vacuflo did not rank in the top three for brand familiarity, brands used most, or brands used in the last two years for central vacuums, but was just 0.01 points behind the most-specified brand Nutone in when ranked by product quality. The same holds true for Porcelanosa, which ranked just behind Dal-Tile in ceramic tile for quality, but did not show up in the top three of frequently used or familiar brands. Baldwin locksets and hardware ranked highest in quality over most-used brands Schlage and Kwikset.

With these factors in mind, manufacturers will want to bear down on quality as builders focus on new designs and opportunities for 2015.