Building a new home comes with all kinds of costs, some expected and some unexpected. These costs start to show when you’re in the early design phase of building your house, and will grow as you begin to add more features.
Recognize at the outset that builders may offer a “customizable” home by offering upgrades to the basic features of their standard house plans. Implicit in each upgrade is an upcharge. In the interest of helping all new home customers save money, we’ve compiled a few areas to consider, particularly in the early design stage.
As part of their initial cost offering, builders will usually offer a template of various neutral paint colors. These are typically referred to as “level 1” paints and will almost always be included in the cost of the house.
However, builders will may also provide other options for paints that will cost additional money. These options are usually referred to as “level 2” and above. Choosing upgraded paints can run up costs significantly. There may not only be an additional cost for the upgraded color itself, but there may also be an additional charge for the labor to apply your unique color choice.
Repainting is relatively easy, and can be done at any time. If you want to save your building budget for other upgrades, consider going with the level 1 paint options offered by your builder and repainting later, on your own schedule and with your own paint choices.
Carpet and Flooring
Similar to the paint component mentioned above, builders will customarily offer options for carpet and flooring in a system of levels. With flooring options, level one will almost always be a least-expensive carpet option.
As with paints, flooring can easily be upgraded at any time. If budget is an issue, you can go with the builder’s low-cost option and make changes later- often for less cost than what the builder would have charged for similar upgrades.
Granite features will often be offered as an upgrade to standard materials. An interesting point to note here is that the difference in finished look and quality between the various levels of granite offered is not entirely noticeable to most people. And, realtors will typically agree that it doesn’t matter so much what “level” of granite fixtures you choose.
Upgrading to any level of granite over standard materials might be a good choice up front, as upgrading later is not as simple as repainting or upgrading your carpet, and involves tearing out existing counter tops and fixtures.
Upgrading your lighting fixtures can be a great improvement to the overall aesthetic of your custom home, but can also be very expensive. As with other upgrade options, if budget is an issue, remember that you can always go with a lower-cost option now and then do your own upgrades in the future.
Having said that, there are a few cases where it can be better to upgrade lighting fixtures during the initial construction with the builders. These are cases where it may be difficult to upgrade certain fixtures yourself due to their complexity, or if they are relatively inaccessible after construction is complete.
Pay close attention to which appliances are included in the cost of your home, and the cost of any upgrades offered.
Be sure to compare the costs of any upgraded appliances through your builder to those same or similar appliances available at stores where you could purchase them yourself. The cost difference can be huge, and may be the difference between spending $5,000 or $1,400 on a refrigerator, for example.
It is almost always more cost-efficient to purchase and install upgraded appliances on your own.
Elevation typically refers to the structural design for the exterior of your home, and changes can be very costly.
However, some elevation options such as larger windows, which allow more natural light into the interior, may be worth paying for during construction as they can be costly- and maybe impossible- to change later.
In other cases where the elevation choices are merely cosmetic, consider carefully whether it is worth spending the extra thousands, and sometimes even tens of thousands of dollars, understanding that these choices may not be adding any real value to the livability of your home or resale value.
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