My husband and I spent the morning chasing our little one around some model homes in the area. We happen to be in the market for a home, but the truth is I like touring houses just for fun. The glistening new granite, getting a happy high off the new paint. I picked up the brochures and listened to the spiel and I know they are saying it is a buyers’ market, but not THIS buyer from what I can see. New homes are still crazy expensive, especially if you are wanting any of those shiny new upgrades. There are so many different options available and, if you get them all, they really add up. My money-is-no-object alter-ego would love to really pimp that house, but reality-me would have to make some tough choices. Remember, there are some upgrades that may be very difficult or impossible to improve later, while others are very do-able DIYs. Here are some guidelines to help you choose your upgrades wisely.
Put it in: In general, spring for the upgrade on anything structural. Anything that would require changing of walls, wiring, plumbing, or piping will ultimately be worth the money spent to install them. Put in the piping and loop for a water softener. Add gas lines for the dryer and stove. Even if you prefer, and plan on using, electric appliances yourself, if you might resale later on it is worth making allowances for potential buyers’ preferences. Something that small could be a painful deal-breaker later on. So go ahead and pay for wiring for ceiling fans. Spring for higher ceiling and doorways. Get that upgraded insulation. Take a minute and really think about the furniture set up you are going to have so you can have the builder install any extra phone jacks, cable jacks, and surround sound for your entertainment system. Also, close in optional bedrooms, if at all possible. A four bedroom house will always sell for more than a three bedroom house.
Maybe: There are some upgrades that would cost more money to have the builder complete, but despite the higher cost, there may be some advantage to having the builder do them because you can wrap that cost into your home loan. Hiring someone else down the road would require either a second loan or finding the cash in your own pocket. Also, consider leaving any projects to the builder that are a must, but which you are uncertain that you or private hires can handle. You don’t want to be living in the never ending construction zone because your skills of procrastination are more impressive than your tile laying skills.
Leave it out: Cosmetic, cosmetic, cosmetic. And those are, emotionally, the hardest things to leave out. Those are what draw you in, the pretty things, the things that make you fall in love. They flirt with you, bat their eyelashes and get you to commit. But once you are in the “marriage” with this house you are going to appreciate the things mentioned in the structure section more. Paint options, cabinet and counter upgrades, fancier toilets and sinks, chandeliers, hollow core vs solid core doors. Don’t get me wrong, I love this stuff, and some of it I honestly would never be happy without, but builders just plain overcharge for this stuff. So, figure out what finishes you can do, or hire out privately and save yourself some money.
What is your opinion? Soup up that kitchen? Or ‘scape that land? What upgrades would you do or have already done in your new home?
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