Hello, new and potential new homeowners! I am excited to share my home buying journey. I have been reminiscing about my entire process, thinking did I make the right decision, could I have done anything better and most of all, future upgrades.
The area where I wanted to be located pretty much only had new construction homes or homes built within the last ten years. In the very beginning, I was ok with purchasing a pre-existing build because it meant I wouldn’t have to wait on the 6-7 month building process, but that route seemed like more of a headache that I just didn’t want to embark on so I opted to go new. Some of the pros for me when deciding on buying new construction included less worry about the structural integrity of my house. I would be the first to live in the home; if you ever have seen me clean you would understand why this means a lot to me, I get to select some of the finishes, less water & electrical issues, and lastly, it’s turn-key ready. Some of the cons are the house lacks character; there are limited options with customizations, and your neighbor might have your same plan.
Once the building process was underway, i.e. framing, stairs, drywall, I was taken back that I got an appraisal with absolutely no finishes installed. This told me one thing, the builder didn’t have to be a concern with luxury upgrades and/or finishes which is probably why the options are so limited in design. Often times the builder’s spec home gets the bulk of the upgrades so the buyer (you and me) can get excited about the possibility of our home looking just like the spec. With that being said, keep a level head when it comes to upgrades. Here are some of the best and worst decisions I feel I made when selecting finishes/upgrades for my house.
- Neutral finishes. I choose a neutral palette throughout the house because it would give me some time to upgrade, if that was something I was interested in doing in the future. When choosing new finishes, it would also give me some wiggle room to get creative. Everything from tile to paint was neutral.
- Lighting – or lack thereof.Whether I chose lighting or not with my builder there wouldn’t be a credit given, so I selected the basic-free lighting package. The builder prewired lighting in some areas and I just chose not to select any lighting in those areas.
- My necessary upgrades. I could say I kept upgrades simple but that would be a lie (lol). Builders tend to mark up everything, and I do mean everything, such as tile, flooring, lighting, built-ins, (insert Shirley Caesar you name it). I tried my best to only upgrade things that would be significantly more work for me after closing. Some of those upgrades included a gourmet kitchen which meant the removal of the microwave above the stove and replacing it with a range hood over a cooktop with double ovens. This was a $5,000 upgrade which was lower than the market value. Upgraded cabinets were $2,000, island $1,500 (two-toned kitchen another $200), built-in/fireplace, master bathroom, tile, and lastly a cabinet in the laundry room. The cabinet in the laundry wasn’t a necessary upgrade but I needed the extra storage.
Worst comes down to personal preference. I don’t have a worst, but I’ll include some of the upgrades I feel that are not necessary. Keep in mind this is just my opinion.
- The paint colors. More often than not I notice people pay extra for accent walls or a paint color outside the available options and I find this to be a problem for two reasons. The first one is the furniture you move in with may not be what you keep, so the color may no longer work. The second reason, and this comes down to preference, is the builder’s paint has a flat finish and in most households, esp. households with children, I recommend a paint with some sort of shine. The shine is going to offer easy cleanup for spills and/or everyday living incidentals.
- Hardwood floors. In my experience, both mine and my clients, the builder at times aggressively upcharges on this upgrade. The issue for me isn’t the flooring but more so paying for something that you have no say in how it’s going to be laid. I knew in my house that I wanted to add some character and creating some sort of design element in the flooring would accomplish that but that wasn’t an option with my builder, so the upcharge just didn’t make sense to me. I simply kept the free 4mm glue down luxury vinyl.
- Pre-installed blinds. The builder tends to have about three options to choose from which is limited from what other retailers offer. When it comes to window coverings, you can go with remote operated, wood blinds, shutters, roman shades, and the list goes on. If you wait, you can be a lot more selective in what you want to put on your windows.
I hope you guys find some of these tips helpful. I’m all about learning from my mistakes and experiences and if my wrongs can be right for you than I’ve done my job. Please come again. I’ll be discussing ways to upgrade you builder-grade home, Thank you until next time.