Picking out options can be overwhelming. Knowing which upgrades are worth it and which are not, can save you a lot of money down the road.
I’m sure you’ve seen the signs driving around “new neighborhood starting at $xxx,xxx”. They lure you in, but once you start adding the lot premium, a bonus room, extra outlets, it all starts to add up… fast.
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Pump the brakes my friend.
While it may be appealing, not all builder upgrades are going to bring value to your new home. These are the top 4 builder upgrades to consider passing on:
Aside from the fact that the brand of appliance may not be your first choice, avoid upgrading without first comparing the cost. We chose whatever came with the kitchen. We may decide later to purchase a higher end appliance during one of the holiday sales.
For this one, I am just speaking on fixtures and ceiling fans, I’ll touch on electrical later. None of the lighting fixtures or the upgraded options available wow’d us. Your money would be better spent on purchasing something you’re in love with and either installing it yourself, or hiring someone. As my daughter puts it, we’ll have a saggy boob light in our foyer in the meantime and now I can’t unsee that image in my head.
3- Outdoor space
I know it’s easier, and tempting, to have the builder go ahead and screen in your porch or extend out your patio, but again, that comes with a huge markup. This is an area we learned from experience. The cost to extend our patio after we closed would have been way cheaper had we waited. Even our sales agent agreed it was smarter to wait.
There may be different views on this, but if you have to pick and choose to keep your house cost down, this is one area that gets expensive quick. Instead of putting tile in all the bathrooms, maybe only put it in the master bathroom. Another area to cut the tile cost, don’t add a kitchen backsplash. Check out how we did our most recent kitchen backsplash on our own.
I broke my own rule this time and it’s only because the whole reason we’re even building our home is because I don’t want to do tile work ever again.
There I said it.
What should you upgrade when building?
Anything that will require permitting and inspections, it’s worth it to spend the money upfront. Thankfully, the people who had already started on the building process and backed out on the lot that we wanted, picked all the structural items we had already wanted. The return on the investment makes structural additions worth the investment.
Plumbing and electrical
All the things that live inside your walls and ceiling, is a lot easier to install before drywall install, than after the fact. Even though we didn’t upgrade the builder lighting fixtures, adding additional can lighting, a plug for a future hot tub, and additional outlets is better to do now. When we met with the contractor, he said to add any of those things later would be like performing surgery and your home will have scars where things had to be patched.
Same goes for plumbing, better to do it early than later. An additional bathroom means that the septic system and all that went with the supply lines, needed an upgrade as well.
Aside from picking your home, where you put your home is even more important. This is where you hear “lot premiums” and the better the location, the more you’ll pay. The location for this home is exactly what drew us into this neighborhood in the first place, the house was just the cherry on top. Having a bigger yard for our dogs, backing up to a lake, and being at the end of a cul de sac were super important to us.
While the return on the investment may not be as big as something structural, it is definitely an upgrade future buyers will appreciate. Having dogs and changing to vinyl plank flooring, I did not want carpet in a majority of the home.
At the end of the day, you have to be happy.
Trust me, I get it, this is your dream home and what is important to me may look different for you and that’s ok. What you need to keep in the back of your mind, whatever you pick, will be mortgaged over the life of your loan. Adding an extra room will give you a way better payout in the long run than adding an upgraded lighting fixture package.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to have a realtor with you when making these decisions. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to have one on your side and they can help you figure out what is a better return on investment and what is something you can wait for until later. At the end of the day it’s important to have a payment that you’re comfortable with.
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