Choosing Upgrades For Your New Construction Home

Are you planning to have a home built in a brand new subdivision? Usually this means the house will be a semi-custom home. A semi-custom home means the basic home plans are in place but the buyers get to pick the upgrades, colors and features, but they didn’t get to choose the floor plan. One of the most difficult parts of this process can be knowing what upgrades to choose from the extensive list of options. Which upgrades are cost effective and which ones make more sense to do after closing on the home?

Below are some thoughts about the process of choosing construction upgrades…..


1. Decide on a budget and stick to it.
This is really tough since builders give home buyers so many options. However, if you aren’t careful it is easy to spend tens of thousands of dollars more than you wanted to spend. Sit down prior to meeting with the design center and choose some of the options that are must haves and some that would be nice. Ask the builder for a price list prior to meeting with the design center.

2. There are some upgrades that will build value in your home and others that won’t have any resale value at all. This is something to keep in mind but it shouldn’t completely control your decision making process. Choose what you like. Remember that almost every house is going to have some upgrades that come with it. Also remember that if you don’t choose any upgrades your house might be too plain. Make choices that will give your house character and help to make it your home.

3. There are some upgrades that can be done after the building process is done and others that you can’t (or will cost you a lot to do after the home is completed).  Items like speakers, cable jacks, plumbing or extra electrical outlets can be very difficult to add later, so these make a lot of sense to have the builder add. But extra cabinets, upgraded fixtures and window treatments and blinds are all things that can be done after the building process is finished. Money can be saved by hiring someone other than the builder to do these items. (However one note of caution, if you do want added cabinets and are going to do this after you close on the home, decide to do this very soon after you close.Otherwise you may find the cabinets in your home are no longer available  from the manufacturer in a few months. Cabinet styles change very quickly making it hard to get inventory after about 6 months.)

4. The builder will price the upgrades on the list according to their cost and their desire to do the upgrades. Some upgrades on the option list might seem like a great value while others seem overpriced. The overpriced ones are most likely ones that the builder doesn’t really want to do anyway. The same will apply if you ask the builder to make customizations to your home that they don’t really want to do. They may quote you a price but they will certainly charge you for their hassle.

5. The builder builds in an “up-charge” on the pricing of ALL of the upgrades that they do. Remember if you decide to add appliances, fixtures, blinds and other items as part of the building process that the prices will be “up-charged” over what you could go to a store and buy the items for. You will not get the same wide choices as going to a store on your own. However, with some builders buying items like appliances through them may mean you get these items added onto the home warranty also. Check into this issue on a case by case basis.

Remember to investigate the quality, prices and compare with what it would cost to buy items “after-market”.

Also important to remember.
And also important to remember, if you thinking of buying a new build home, do not go alone on your first visit to the builder. Be represented by a licensed Realtor. The person in the sales office is representing the builder — not you the buyer. Select your agent and take them with you on the first visit so your agent can “register” you with the builder. The builder will be paying the agent’s fees  – not you — but you get someone watching out for your interested by having a Buyer’s agent.

Often times your Buyer’s Agent may be able to negotiate some discounts for you that you can’t do on your own. And certainly your buyer’s agent will be able to walk you  through the process as you reach closing, recommending inspectors and reviewing paperwork with you. Not taking a Buyer’s Agent with you will not make the home less expensive for you, the buyer. The home builder will not give you the money off your home that they would have paid your agent. Take your Buyer’s Agent with you on the first visit to any new home builder.