When you’re buying a new construction home, there are some home upgrades to avoid and skip. The cost of the new construction home is a base price for the structure of the home, and basic finishes. Most home buyers want to add some customizations to their home, and these will come at a cost.
As a baseline, if the job is not too invasive and completes with little demolition work, it can be done post-closing.
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New Home Upgrades to Avoid
There are several dozen home builders in the community and the cost of upgrades are on average the same across the board. Some home builders may offer rebates on upgrades – which can help you save $20-$30,000.
What if we could help you save even more on new home upgrades? We’re going to give you the top 10 new construction home upgrades to avoid and skip. After you’ve gone through this list, you can definitely save money – even without that rebate.
If your new construction home does not offer home appliances – don’t worry about it. You are likely going to save money by hand selecting your own appliances from your local department store. A handful of big box stores such as Best Buy, The Brick and Leons offer great pricing on appliances. When purchasing kitchen appliances, make sure you are selecting the right size units that fit in your home. A few builders may offer kitchen appliances and laundry appliances for free – but they are likely increasing the value of this equipment when it’s printed on paper.
Lighting and Potlights
This is another new home upgrade to avoid! The average home builder in Ontario charges upwards of $200 per potlight installation and hookup. If you’re thinking about upgrading the lights in your home – do it on your own. You will be better off doing the work after the construction of your home. You can hand pick light fixtures you love – maybe even get them on sale! Your new home will come with standard lights, so you’re not going to be living in the dark. With time, you can add additional light fixtures and avoid this home upgrade.
A home with an attic space or crawl space will make it easier for an electrician to install things such as LED spotlights, potlights and new light fixtures.
Yes, this can be a little destructive, but hear us out! We’ve done renovations and custom build homes and know the real cost of manufacturing and installing kitchen cabinetry. If you want an elegant and upscale kitchen, you’re better off getting it done by a kitchen cabinetry contractor.
The base kitchen with most home builders are the white (almost IKEA looking) cabinets. You can leave this as it is and don’t bother with the kitchen cabinet hardware. Your builder will come in with their seventy-five cent cabinet hardware, and charge you several dollars for it. You are better off purchasing cabinet hardware on your own and installing them.
After your closing, you can contract out the work to a contractor who can come in and measure, manufacture and install a highly upscale kitchen cabinet. Most contractors have access to wholesale pricing on elegant cabinet hardware – or you can source them on your own.
The kitchen is an area of the home that can dramatically increase the value of your home, so we like seeing these features in kitchen cabinetry:
- Overhead cabinets that run to the ceiling will add space and a defined look
- Cabinet doors that help define the kitchen
- Cabinet doors that close edge-to-edge, hiding the middle frame
- Soft close door hinges and door slides make a huge difference
- Trash drawers that are built into the kitchen cabinets
- Built-in floor vacuum under the cabinets
- Your refrigerator that is built into the kitchen cabinets
There are many homebuyers who overpay for new home upgrades like marble countertops. If you’re not going to be living in your home for more than five years (more common nowadays) – then skip on the marble countertop. A marble countertop can actually stain and chip over time and the investment is not so prolonged!
A home builder makes a considerable amount of money on the upgrades (which are heavily marked up). Your sales rep will try to sell you the kitchen backsplash – and yes, they do look good on the photos and in the demo home. However, the tile work is tedious and the builder will build in a lot of cost for the labour and tiles you choose. A kitchen backsplash can be done after closing, at almost 40% of the cost the builder may charge you.
In our opinion, we recommend you look out for sales on quality tiles and hire someone to complete the backsplash in your kitchen. This is an easy new home upgrade to avoid and skip.
If there is one new home upgrade to avoid, it’s crown moldings. When the salesperson presents you with this option, it may look very appealing (and it is!), but remember this is only for the appeal. The home builder can install crown moldings on walls and around the cabinets – and it provides a finished look. In reality, this is an expensive upgrade given the amount of value it gives your home. It’s very easy to install by the home builder, but can cost quite a bit for you.
If you want crown moldings, we recommend you do it post-closing.
Master Bedroom Micro Addition or Bump Out
A micro addition or bump out to your master bedroom may seem like a great investment, but the numbers have shown otherwise. With most home builders, a master bedroom addition can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. The value it provides is not so significant to make this a valuable upgrade to your new home.
Plumbing Fixtures and Faucets
A kitchen sink faucet, bathroom faucet or shower head are all easy fixtures to install or replace. Your home builder can charge you quite a bit for these upgrades, so we recommend choosing the basic fixtures. You can then slowly change these out as you prefer. There are a number of hardware stores that offer great low prices and sales on faucets and bathroom fixtures – places like Lowes, Rona, Home Depot, Reno Depot, BMR, Zion Building Supplies and more.
This is one of those home upgrades to avoid and skip – it can save you quite a bit of money and offer you total customization options.
Did you home builder try to sell you mirrors? Let’s skip it. You are better off choosing your own frames and mirrors for the entryways, foyer and bathrooms. After all, if you’re frugal – you can always visit a glass shop. These stores have extra mirrors at a fraction of the cost. You can DIY for these bathroom mirrors. A home builder not only will use a lower grade option, but why pay more for it?
Get a beautiful mirror yourself and can skip on this home upgrades to avoid.
A home builder may try to push exterior landscaping upgrades for your home. In most cases, this is a home upgrade you can avoid and skip. The exterior upgrades can be done post-closing. In general, home builders don’t have a lot of landscaping options available. Let’s face it, a home builder is not a landscaper. If you can find a professional landscaper, you should wait for this after you complete the closing on your home.
Window Treatment and Blinds
The builder upgrades for window treatments, blinds and trims can be expensive. These are great post-closing projects you can work on, or have a contractor come in and complete. There are many window and blind companies that specialized in blinds, motorized blinds and trims. Avoid the extra cost and skip on this upgrade.
This should be a given. You know your closet best and you can totally work on this after you’ve purchased your home. You can avoid this new home upgrade, and DIY this or hire a professional. In most cases, we’ve seen homeowners IKEA this part of the job. You should not be upgrading the closet organizers with a builder – let them work on the structure of the home instead.
There are many opinions about this – but we suggest you get the basic paint option and DIY or hire out in a year for a better paint job. As you start adding additional paint colors and higher grade paint – the builder is not only going to charge for this, but markup on this as well. In our experience, most homeowners stick with the basic paint option and skip on this upgrade.
Opinion from a Real Pre-Construction Home Owner
In my experience from buying three pre-construction homes, I’ve realized a few things. Homebuyers need to focus on construction upgrades, and disqualify the finishing upgrades. Remember to work with a builder that has a proven track-record for delivering quality, because delays will always happen. Always have a list of home upgrades to avoid.
The following are my golden tips to remember for any first time pre-construction new home buyer, as you’ll definitely catch the salesperson off-guard:
- Your builder probably uses the thin 1/2-inch drywall. Upgrade to 1/2-inch fire rated model or the 5/8-inch drywall. It increases rigidness, soundproofs better and withstands better. In places where water moisture is common, opt for moisture resistant drywall.
- In the walls that face the exterior of the home, choose 2″ x 6″ framing instead of 2″ x 4″. This will add additional insulation – reducing your heating costs over the long-term.
- Choose 34-inch door openings – the extra 2-inches will make a difference in your home.
- Add an indoor access door to your garage – you will thank yourself in the winter.
- Think you might want to create a rental income stream from your home? Consider investing in a new home with walkout basement.
- Never assume what you see in a builder’s model home is a standard option.
- Never take the salesperson’s verbal say of how much an upgrade will cost – always get it on paper. My salesperson was sometimes off by 40%.
- Always ask for incentives and even push for it – it doesn’t hurt.
- Never expect your home to be ready when they say it will be – always make visits to your site if you can.
If you can install it yourself, you can do it later.