In previous posts we have gone over the things to look for when working with builders. Once you decide on the builder and the floor plan then you are faced with the most exciting task, picking out options and upgrades. When buying a new build choosing the optional features/upgrades can be both fun and daunting at the same time. I know, every person’s dream home is different but there are few things that all of us need to consider. In this post I have attempted to summarize all the info I have gained from our experience and from friends and neighbors who have gone through the same process.
- Pick your lot wisely. What is it facing now/will it face in future (parking, utilities, traffic)? True for both the front and the back. An open space in the back usually comes with a premium.
- The direction of the lot/driveway is key. In colder climates, pick a direction so that the snow in the driveway can melt easily. The backyard of an east facing house cannot really be used in the afternoon (an issue a lot of our neighbors face). This was an important consideration when we picked our west facing home even though in India east facing houses are favored for religious reasons.
- If you have an option to increase your ceiling height from the standard 8′ to 9′ or 10′ then definitely do it. Trust me, this is one feature that will pay its worth in gold later on. The extra foot or two brings in so much light into the room. Our first home was built in the 80’s and had the typical 8′ ceilings. In our current home the main floor and basement have 9′ ceilings while the top floor has 8′ (except the master). Again, we can really see the difference in the taller floors. If we had the option we would have increased the ceiling height on the top floor in a heart beat.
- Make sure to choose any structural options that you want (bay windows, extensions/bump-outs, tray ceilings, fire place) first as it is hard to get these done later on.
- Go easy on the non structural options aka put them after all the structural ones on your priority list. You can always upgrade your kitchen cabinets/counters, flooring, or bathroom tile later.
- Pre-wire your surround sound before the drywall goes up.
- This one can be a bone of contention for many but I have heard way too many folks complain about it. Beware of two story family rooms. Yes, they are great aesthetically but the most common gripe is that they are a pain in the you know where to heat/cool. All that extra wall space and windows can be difficult to decorate. I have also heard folks lament about the wastage of space and not converting it into an extra room upstairs. Another issue (especially if you have light sleepers) could be that it is easier for sound (TV) to travel to the upstairs bedrooms.
- Skip on adding the deck option if you want anything other than the basic deck. If you are going for anything fancier then getting it done later will work out cheaper. The only plus of using the builder for the deck is that the cost will be covered in the mortgage and it won’t be that painful.
- The same thing goes for landscaping. Get it done later on.
For a list of options that we wish we had chosen go here.
Other Posts in the “New Home Basics” Series