What Upgrades Should You Get In A New Home – Building a new home for the first time? Or hope to redo it and make better choices? This story describes our experience and 7 tips for getting a builder upgrade.
When it came to planning my wedding, I didn’t care what happened. I was just excited to marry the man I loved, and I wanted a stunning dress. Whether I had bridesmaids or not, fancy flowers or tiered cakes were not on my priority list. I was nowhere near Bridezilla but I think I’m making up for it now as we build a house.
What Upgrades Should You Get In A New Home
Maybe it’s because I was almost 19 (yes, you can read all about my being a young bride here). Or maybe I’m just a pretty low-key person in general. Either way, I think I more than make up for it now as we build our dream home. Even though we’re going with a mass builder with pre-built plans, there are still a lot of decisions to be made and it can be difficult to know which builders are worth upgrading to.
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I don’t want to say that choosing a home is exactly like choosing the right partner, but it can be quite stressful.
We started house hunting two months ago. And by we, I mean I. Waking up to a new home listed on Zillow was a great start to the day. I toured a few houses with my very patient realtor, but nothing seemed right. I’ve actually had more luck browsing previously sold homes to get an idea of what’s out there but not on the market. After a month or so I started to feel a little disappointed and like I’ll never find out
Or the right place would pop up but I was too scared to go for it. But still, I knew very well that the right house would appear at the right time.
I just ended up bemoaning a friend about this scare, but when I left his house I decided to go to a neighborhood I had seen before and talk to a different builder about their plans. I went in with a floor plan in mind, and walked out with one I hadn’t considered but already fell in love with.
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By that time my husband had come up with the idea of miraculously moving once again. Admittedly when we were building the house we live in, it was our forever home. But that was when we only had our second (and thought to be last) child. And when I was preparing to be a stay at home mom (not knowing my blog would become my full time job). Now we’re taking everything we love about this house and combining it for this new one, but adding a few things we love:
Very large yard (2 acres compared to our tiny lot). Slightly larger bedrooms, still all on the first floor. Plus an upstairs playroom and theater room. We will have a study, formal dining room, a large utility room and a three car garage. So I have one for his car, one for his gym and one for me to park. This was one of the requirements for a location we were looking for.
Once we chose our plans there was a bit of back and forth with the builder about construction upgrades and cost (yes, you can negotiate the cost of new construction as well), and eventually we all came to an agreement. This is where my housezilla really started to show. I want to do things
A few weeks ago my husband and I had our first scheduled appointment at the Design Center. They booked us for three appointments. Three hours on the first hour, two hours on the second and two hours on the third. If you’ve ever built a house before you know how these meetings go. Here’s an office building full of beautiful options—most of them upgrades that come with a hefty markup. I spent late nights trying to research which options are upgradeable with the builder and which you can upgrade later for a fraction of the cost.
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The thing is you’ll come across a lot of articles that say upgrade everything you can now and just roll it all into your mortgage. But I don’t want to pay off those upgrades and interest for 30 years, especially when there’s a big markup (update: it was a big decision, and a big reason we paid off our house early were able). So I created a spreadsheet of updates
And estimated costs. We’ve already spent a lot on structural upgrades that we know we won’t be able to replace later, so choosing carpet over hard floors right now is a no-brainer for us.
(I totally jacked that the sold sign wasn’t ours yet. But don’t worry, I put this picture back after I snapped it).
-Water softener loop (to hook our water softener too. A must for us). I overestimated the cost of this, so we were able to add in some other upgrades that we liked.
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-Tiling on floors (to make kitchen and bathroom areas look bigger). We discussed this upgrade in terms of cost but it came out lower than I planned so we added it.
-Blinds are installed throughout the house. At $2100 I am still debating this price at Home Depot and canceling this order this week.
-Tub upgrade.A strange preference for us. Design Center wanted to charge us $1485 just to add jets to a tub but couldn’t tell us which tub to get, or how big it was. Considering you can buy a very nice large tub for that amount or a little more, we passed. We asked for a 6 foot tub instead of a 5 foot tub with jets. I did some research and sent some preferred options to the design center in preference to our order. They sent that to the builder and luckily they came back with a reasonable price for this upgrade and we went for it.
We added a few other things like blinds on the inside of the back door, a pot and pan drawer under the oven, and some $77 sponge holders under the sink. Add in the electrical upgrades (pre-wiring for our projector, surround sound and extra ethernet/CAT5 and extra outlets) and we were still under my preferred budget. At the last minute I added three pendant lights to the kitchen island and it made us a little taller but got this…
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In total, I was hoping to stay under $10k in design upgrades. Going in I didn’t want to mention it and make everyone laugh (the average customer spends around $50k+ in upgrades). Our designer told us we set a record for the least amount spent on upgrades in Coventry and I’m very proud of that. I think we also set the record for being the fastest. We picked everything up so quickly that we were able to cancel one of our 2 hour appointments. We came in a little over $11k but we got all our preferences and a little more.
Manufacturers can already be so secretive about prices. I asked for a price list before going in and our told me they didn’t have one, and they didn’t have a website. In this day and age I think that’s just crazy. It’s not just Coventry that works this way. Many builders have a similar process. Gehan gave us a price list when we were under contract so we had a general idea. But if your designer doesn’t do it, there are other ways to prepare…
It was a big help for me. I moved in a week before our design center meeting with my realtor and we didn’t see the upgrade though.
, we got to see all the parameters of our builder. So I was able to pick up our rugs, kitchen cabinets, countertops, and other items without stressing over every decision with a designer over my shoulder. I told him what we had already chosen, and we tweaked a few things. For example, the rug I initially chose was too yellow. (And I swapped out a large tile backsplash for subway tile.) It also made the first five-hour design meetings done in just two. Our designer called my husband and gave me a treat!
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More on the structural upgrades and know that we have plenty of upgrades to our designs. We knew the upgrades we needed (like a full tub, and water loop) and waited on others. One of the most expensive upgrades when you’re building is flooring. Since we have a child, we decided to hold off on getting a hard floor until she is walking. And enjoy the carpet for a few years. Then upgrade the flooring we really want for a fraction of the cost
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