With a continued lack of housing options and now rising mortgage rates, a new build home might now be your best option for a place to call home. Great, right?! Let’s do it! But hold on a minute, because a new home might fit right into your budget, until you start learning about upgrades. So before you go ahead, let's look at the best upgrades to get while building, and the ones that you can maybe live without or save up for and get done later.
Let’s start with the stuff that you might not even know much about or see. The plumbing is a very much hidden thing until you see the physical fixture that is used to turn on the water, or flush the toilet. If you are trying to save in this area, then it's totally fine to get the cheaper fixtures and change them out later, but one thing you do not want to do later is a rough in, or laying new pipes anywhere (especially if you need to start cutting walls open to do so). If you are building a home with an unfinished basement, make sure that you add the rough in for the plumbing in that bathroom you may be putting in down the road. Even if you have to sell the home before you actually get around to putting in a basement bathroom, it still looks better on that listing when you can say it’s ready for it.
Electrical is similar to plumbing in the sense that you don’t want to have to rip apart walls and ceilings just to hang that special chandelier your great aunt gave you. So think it all through and try to get those switches, plugs and lighting outlets placed exactly where you want them. Even if you have to buy the package that your builder provides, at least you can change the actual fixture out later. With this all being said, another MUST do is pot lights! If you can, upgrade to add pot lights and dimmers to your living room, dining room and Kitchen. You can put them in other rooms as well, but they are one of those items you do not want to DIY and really should be put in with the rough in of the electrical work. You will not regret being able to dim the lights during that romantic candle lit dinner (I’m a sucker for setting the mood with dimmers and candle lighting!)
Most home builders install custom made cabinets in their homes, with custom comes pricey, durable and hopefully great quality. As the homeowner, picking out your kitchen cabinet colour and finishes can be sooo hard!! You want to have something that you love, but also don’t want to get sick of it. So coming from someone who has been there, done that, I can tell you now that if you are on a budget, and don’t want to be renovating your kitchen again in a few years then don’t pick the trendy coloured cabinet you saw online. As tempting as it was, unless you don’t think you will ever get sick of say Green or Bright Blue cabinets then it’s just not worth it. You are better off getting a simple colour like black, white, gray or wood and incorporating the colours you love in the decor, paint colours, backsplash or even tea towels.
Energy-efficient windows and doors are some of the most important parts of helping a home to become energy efficient. The more energy efficient items your home is built or renovated with, the more you can save on energy costs while improving the comfort of your home.
For example, we all know what it feels like to visit a friend (or maybe it’s your current home) and feel a chilly draft from the window or front door that makes the room just that much colder. By choosing energy efficient doors and windows, they can help lower the cooling and heating bills by reducing heat transfer through the window frame, glass and sash. A high R-value (thermal resistance) means less heat will escape through them. It also means an increase in comfort level by controlling the temperature fluctuations caused by wind and sunlight, which keeps your home at a comfortable temperature all year round.
This is the time when I’m going to highly recommend that you do something for yourself for once and put in that spa-like ensuite bathroom you’ve always wanted! I made this decision when adding an addition, and it was the best decision of the entire project. There is nothing better than having a bathroom directly off your bedroom that you do not have to share with guests, or kids or even pets. This is also your bathroom to put the soaker tub in and walk-in shower. Save on the other bathrooms with more basic packages because the ensuite is a place you should love to walk into.
Try not to cheap out on the tile. It's such a big mess if you want to rip it up later and replace it with something nicer down the road. If possible, be creative and do it right the first time around. I mean this specifically if you are getting a tiled shower, mudroom/ entrance floor, bathroom floor and backsplash. Tile requires grout and cement to lay, so it’s heavy duty to put down, and it’s heavy duty to rip up again. Get the tile that will work for you for years, because that’s how long it will last!
Flooring has come a long way in recent years. There are so many gorgeous looking floors that are a fraction of the price of your typical hardwood floor. And even better than that, the laminate and vinyl flooring you can get now don’t dent or damage as easily as a hardwood floor. So choose wisely here. Luxury vinyl is a great option if you want wood looking floors throughout the house (especially in the kitchen) as they can handle the constant spills and messes of a kitchen. Laminate is also a nice option, you just have to be a bit more careful if it’s in your kitchen or bathrooms.
So there you have it….well not all of it actually.
There are so many upgrades that a new home can come with, and it’s going to vary greatly with the builder, type of house, area etc. When you are starting to build, or getting into the upgrades section of the building process, then think about it this way. What is your intended use with this home? Are you hoping to finish the basement later into an apartment for some extra income? Then add in that access door from the basement and do the rough-in. And if there is one thing you can really take with you, it’s this basic rule of thumb, if it would require a big tear out, expense and mess to replace, then spend the money with the builder and get a product you will be happy with for a long time.