How much do new home upgrades cost you or save you? It really depends on how much you allow the excitement factor of upgrades to infiltrate your thinking. My best advice is to avoid getting too excited about upgrades, because upgrades are often no more than a sales technique. This technique feeds off the overall excitement created by what home builders and contractors call shiny stuff. Shiny stuff means the often costly interior finishes which have nothing to do with quality construction. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with shiny stuff, and some upgrades are truly great deals, but there is something wrong with getting so carried away about them that you forget why you came to the builder to start with. Some builders sincerely hope you do just that.
Shiny upgrades are often the cover of a salesman who doesn’t understand construction very well. If your salesman cannot answer your construction questions, this needs to be established right away. If he doesn’t know, then he will find someone on staff who does. This will give you the opportunity to talk to the real builder. A real home builder will appreciate your interest in the actual building materials, and techniques.
Refuse to talk about cosmetic upgrades before you discuss real construction. Discuss construction first and worry about interior decorating only when that is resolved. The only upgrades you should discuss in the first hour are the ones pertaining to building materials. You are the client and your agenda is what is important. Your agenda is to get quality home construction and the home you planned in your home building journal. Your disinterest in upgrades will show that you actually understand what is important in the building process, and defuse any other high pressure sales techniques the salesman has planned.
If there is an upgrade involved in getting two by six studs instead of two by four studs, then you do want that. If there is an upgrade that gives you at least five inches of closed cell insulation then you want that too. These things are important, whether they are called upgrades or not. If these crucial elements are not available from the builder, either as a standard or as an upgrade then you have very little to discuss with these people anyway. With rising utility costs, these things are necessary. Also of interest are floor joists, spacing of floor joists and other durability issues.
In dealing with insulated concrete contractors, you will want to talk about R-values and thicknesses of both concrete and insulation. You want at least five inches of dense polyurethane insulation, and you want to know the exact R-value of their polyurethane. R-value per inch does vary by brand.
Once you’ve discussed quality construction, discuss policy. Explain that you will not even consider signing any sort of arbitration contract. Then explain that you want your right to visit your construction site, at least one hour a week assured in writing. Some building contractors try to keep buyers off the site. While there are logical reasons for this, including public liability, and distracting the workers, any clause in the contract or in company policy that keeps you off the site is unacceptable to you as the owner of the home. Ask about warranties. Also make sure you understand their question and complaint policy.
If the builder or salesman’s response to any of this is negative, then be prepared to walk out. Arbitration clauses, rules against visiting the site, and a poor method of handling questions and complaints are all huge red flags. Any one of these polices is enough to send you out the door. There are plenty of small, independent quality home builders who would not even think about these sorts of policies.
The next phase is to discuss the floor plan, and the overall design, style and structure of the home. Explain what you want, and find out how it fits in with what they do. Make sure to resolve exactly what you want, before discussing upgrades.
When it is finally time to discuss upgrades, listen to the salesman carefully, and consider the market value of the items being sold, as well as their real value to you and your personal tastes. If, for example granite countertops are on your want list and there is an upgrade for those, then consider the price, and check around to see if that price is in line with the actual going price for granite countertops. If it’s more expensive then turn it down and put in the countertops yourself, or hire separate contractor to do it. If no one in your family cares enough about granite countertops to pay extra for them, then don’t worry about the upgrade.
It is much easier to research the value of these kinds of things before going to the builder. Discuss with your family which types of items are important to them. While you are at the builder, imagine that you are in a home improvement store, and have a choice of different types of counter tops, floor coverings, and cabinets. Would you pay that much for these items at your local home improvement store? Would you normally select a lower cost item if given the choice? Stay logical, and consider the prices that you have researched in the past. Don’t be moved by these upgrades too easily.
This is a red flag. Some builders get kickbacks from their preferred lender, but that’s not your problem. Ask what the interest rate is, and unless it is lower than you can get anywhere else, turn down the deal. No upgrade is worth as much as a fraction of a percent on the interest rate.
It is a good policy not to use their lender, but if the interest rate is exceptional there’s no real harm. However, never agree to use their arbitrator, their appraiser, or their attorney. The law requires that you need appraisers, and attorney’s to protect you. If you use theirs, guess who they protect? It’s even more important not to agree to having arbitrators. Insure your right to a judge and jury in a civil case should something go wrong. Do not signing an arbitration clause.
You should be aware that upgrades are a sales technique. That does not mean they are bad, only that you should avoid getting excited about them, or letting them upstage business you need to conduct as a higher priority. How much do new home upgrades cost? Too much, if you allow them to be a distraction from what you actually want and need from the home builder. I hope you found this article on how much do new home upgrades cost useful.
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