gold plating
n. Including unnecessarily expensive items in a construction or renovation project to justify a large budget or a substantial rent increase.
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All improvements must be reviewed and approved by the rent board, which frowns on what is known in industry jargon as 'gold-plating,' that is, loading up the building with extravagances like Oriental rugs, crystal chandeliers or antique furniture.
—Tom Zoellner, “Proposition Would Bolster S.F. Rent Control,” The San Francisco Chronicle, October 17, 2000
1987 (earliest)
Jay Oren, a staff architect for the cultural affairs department, said that the $5.15-million plan is 'not a gold-plated program,' but that he understands how some people have been surprised by the estimated price. 'It doesn't shock me because I'm used to building construction costs,' he said.
—Larry Gordon, “Park Center to Rise From Ashes,” Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1987
This term first began popping up in the late 80s.
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