The most common question I get from new home buyers is, "What should I upgrade with the builder & what should I do on my own?" If you've ever sat in a builder design meeting you know it is the most overwhelming & stressful 3 hours of your life. Wrought with differing ideas between husbands & wives, budget restraints & options on top of options. While on the surface, it seems like a 'fun' idea to choose every option in your home...in reality, it's usually quite difficult. In an effort to make some of those decisions a little easier I typically have my clients start with 3 'must-have' items. Once we've identified these items, we don't lose track of them, or easily deter from them...even if they cost more than we had planned. If they are a 'must-have' we try to keep that & move something else around to stay on budget.
While stone fireplaces & herringbone wood floors are lovely, they are not on my list of builder upgrades to consider must have. When considering what you MUST upgrade with the builder you have to ask yourself the question of how hard would this item be to add in a year? If it is significantly difficult, you do it right the first go around.
So here are my 3 builder upgrades not to miss.
1. Cabinets. To re-do these down the road means your also re-doing flooring & coutnertops, so it is crucial to get your cabinets right the first time. Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade! In starter homes this means you want to have 42" uppers, that are not oak, cherry or maple is great. 36" look small & visually cuts your ceiling height in half. In 'move-up' homes you're going to want to consider white cabinets, glass fronts & staggered uppers. All these upgrades, while perhaps more expensive than you thought, will come in handy on resale.
2. Folding Exterior Doors. I can't tell you how often I see this option modeled & buyers skip over it. It's a huge mistake to miss this option. While you don't need to have these accordion folding doors (the sliding are much less expensive) you do need this effect. At the moment, it's a 'new' option & perhaps feels like one you can skip over or add later. Let me assure you, the effort to install these doors after the fact is a huge headache. Not to mention in some floorplans, its a structural change, which means when the builder does it, the plan is engineered differently. Thus making it unsafe to add after the fact.
Visually these doors bring the outside in, making your space lighter & brighter & appear much bigger. I can assure you that you'll love them while you live in your home & I can also assure you that when you go to sell your home in 5-10 years, these doors that are now, 'new' will be the standard.
3. Kitchen Transom Windows. I couldn't for the life of me, find a good photo of this, so I made one for you. I keep seeing these windows popping up in kitchens & I'm in love. They sit right above your countertops & below your top cabinets, letting in more natural light & being overall beautiful. The same thing I said about the doors, I feel about these windows. In 3 years, this will be the standard, so jump on board now. I've never seen an extra window I didn't love & these are no exception.
The only other options you really have to consider with the builder are any that are structural in nature. Extended patios, garages, extra pantry space -- things that change the footprint of your house. Those, you need to think clearly on, because once its done, its done. I always recommend extending patios & my other secret option I love? 8' interior doors. Its typically pretty inexpensive but you get a major bang for your buck. They add a richer look & visually take your eye up, making your ceilings appear taller. Throw that one in too...and good luck!
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.