Homebuilders often price homes with bare bones features knowing that buyers will want to upgrade most everything. If you select many upgrades it can significantly increase the final price of your home. Deciding which upgrades to take is not just a matter of taste. Many of the available upgrades are crucial to your home, while others are simply cosmetic.
Common New Home Upgrades Priority 1: Insure a good foundation
The most important upgrade by far is a better foundation. Some home builders price their homes on a slab, even though they plan to sell the foundation as an upgrade. By offering it as an upgrade, they can price the home a lot lower than the real price. Building a home on a slab is not practical in most climates. Upgrade to a good foundation. If your area’s water table is low enough, consider a basement. I don’t recommend a basement unless the water table is consistently deeper than eight feet in your area. I do recommend a basement in cold climates, in order to get the foundation below the part of the ground that becomes frozen in winter.
Common New Home Upgrades Priority 2: Upgrade the structural materials
Two by six wall studs are more durable than two by fours. They will also accommodate more insulation. Insist on two by six studs and at least two by ten floor joists, even if your home builder or contractor doesn’t mention it. Structure is always a top priority over any sort of decorative material or fixture. Be sure to establish the grade of all the lumber in your home, and take the heaviest option. Always elect for thicker walls, stronger floors and a better grade of plywood sheathing. If you are building with alternative materials, always make choices that increase strength, durability and insulation properties.
Common New Home Upgrades Priority 3: Energy efficiency
Upgrade to the best wall insulation, thermal barrier roof insulation and energy efficient appliances. Consider an on demand hot water heater to save on your electric bill. Other than structural integrity, energy efficiency is the most important aspect of your home. Be sure that the R-factor of your home is the highest offered. Check behind your builder to assure that your new appliances are among the top rated for efficient use of electricity or fuel. Spend the extra money for triple glazed windows as well.
Common New Home Upgrades Priority 4: Storage
Built in wall storage units and shelves are well worth the investment. They maximize the use of square footage, especially for people who tend to collect things. Closet space is also very important, and should be increased if possible. Lack of storage can create a constant cleaning problem in a home.
Common New Home Upgrades Priority 5: The Kitchen
Upgrade the kitchen cabinets and countertops if you are not satisfied with the standard options. Consider taller wall cabinets for a more built in look and more storage. Make sure the cabinets are durable, and that the drawers and doors operate smoothly. Enquire about special inner cabinet storage fixtures to maximize storage.
Common New Home Upgrades Priority 6: Hard Wood Floors
This is a much higher priority if your builder is talking about real hardwood floors. Real hardwood floors found in older homes are made of real wood, usually oak. Other wood can also be used, including softer woods like pine and cedar. The boards are cut tongue and groove and occasionally applied without a subfloor. This real wood makes a home far more durable and valuable. Today many of the hardwood floors are merely thin laminated strips applied over a subfloor. Frankly, if this is what the builder is calling a hardwood floor, you’d be better off to buy your own fake wood and install it later. These wooden tiles amount to disposable fluff, which has nothing to do with structure. If you can afford the additional cost, and your builder is willing to do it, real hardwood floors can be worth the money, and add significantly to the value of your home.
Common New Home Upgrades Other Upgrades
Flooring, paint, wall paper and other surface selections are just fluff. Exterior siding choices are somewhat important, but not as vital as the more integral structural upgrades. Generally, builders will want to talk about cosmetic up-grades, but do not be swayed by baubles like light fixtures, floor coverings and electronic gadgets. Look for upgrades in structure, not disposable fluff. The common new home upgrades that matter most are structural.
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