What To Upgrade (Or Not Upgrade) In Your New Construction Home

by | Mar 4, 2023 | Building A New Home, Buying A New Home, New Construction Blog, New Construction Tips, New Home Upgrades, Uncategorized | 0 comments

What To Upgrade (Or Not Upgrade) In Your New Construction Home

When It Comes To Upgrades, Possibilities Are Endless….Budgets Are Not

As you start the process of building a new home, there are many things you will want to do your research on. Depending on if you are purchasing a quick move in, inventory, home or a to be built from scratch home there are some upgrades you will need. This is a basic guide to some of the items, categories, and areas you will need TO upgrade right away, and those which you can decide if they are in the budget now, or can be done later.

Must Upgrade #1 – Structural and Flex Options

These options make up the actual framing and layout of the home. They can range from adding a 3rd or 4th car garage to a larger patio. You will always want to get pricing on these, and if it is something you want or need go ahead and do it. These options are very hard and VERY expensive to normally do in the future, so you will want to make sure you do them now.


Must Upgrade #2 – Flooring (WE Hate Carpet)

The kitchen, utility room, bathroom, and any other wet areas should come with tile standard, and family room, study, and all bedrooms are normally carpet. This is one of the items that you should always upgrade with the builder for convenience. With the rise in popularity of LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) and Wood Look Tile, the ability to upgrade the common areas and even some bedrooms to hard surface floors within the budget has gotten easier. Bedrooms will have carpet and most people find this just fine, you may need to upgrade your carpet pad to stainmaster but that would be about the only upgrade here. Overall upgrading your floors will add value to your home, and it is incredibly hard and dirty to do later on. You can always change out carpet to hard surface floors easily, but going from one hard surface floor to another is normally a hassle.


Must Upgrade # 3 – Cabinets (But Don’t Get Carried Away)

Okay when it comes to cabinets just remember Stained is Standard. This means that those simple white cabinets you want will (almost always) be upgrades. That said if you are working in locations where the home already has cabinets standard in the base pricing, you should be able to upgrade for a small upgrade fee to white. You should also pick a door style and color that you like, and we will go into wood type for cabinets in another article. NOW……If you add cabinets where the plan has none standard, or things like floating shelves, wine racks, tv stand cabinets, or fireplace side built ins, expect to pay Much More. This is because cabinets do not come standard in these areas, and you will be paying full price for them. If you add uppers with glass to your cabinets this will be another large upgrade as you need to add the cabinets, cutout for glass, glass, electrical prep, and lights. So things do add up, just review your budget and estimates to decide what is right for you.

While we are on cabinets, we can discuss the soft close drawer upgrade. While soft close is great and some people absolutely must have it, as long as you have at least smooth glide or easy glide drawer guides you should be good to go. While it does add value, it is not normally a deal breaker for a home.

Must Upgrade # 4 – Lighting, Electrical, Things Behind The Walls

Electrical, lighting, and in wall blocking and bracing all need added and finalized at the pre construction meeting. This ensures that you will have everything taken care of for lights, plugs, hanging televisions, and accessing cable and internet drops. You should always make sure to add your lights and plugs with your builder. I will discuss these further in our Electrical Upgrades You Must Do video, but ensure you are adding enough leds or can lights to brighten up and light your new construction home. You can add plugs at TV height (note you cannot always move plugs up from the floor due to code) so you may have one low and one high to accommodate this. This will allow you to hang TVs with no wires or conduits if you have cut the cord.

Make sure to take photos and lots of them before the drywall goes up. This allows you to know where wires and plumbing run in the walls, and where bracing is for your TVs if you added it during the process. I upload photos for my customers to their buyer site website so they have permanent access to them, but every builder is different in their policy and guidelines.

Might NOT Upgrade #5 – Things You May Or May Not Want To Upgrade

The list below is a list of items that you can normally find someone to do for less after closing or not through the builder. Doing these things after will also make the building process easier as we are not asking people to do things outside of their comfort zone on the construction side. I will also mark these “Do After” for those that you always want to do later, or “Compare” for items you should get bids on and compare the builder pricing to a rough estimate from a contractor.

  • Cabinet Hardware (Compare): If the builders installer drills a hole in the wrong spot, they are replacing the cabinet door, if you or your contract do, its on you. Sometimes this one is best left to the person who can warranty it, but compare pricing as doing it yourself will always be less expensive.
  • Feature Walls (Do After): Painting is easy, and is always less expensive to do yourself. If you are just going to hire someone anyway get a bid for the whole job, but finding an outside painter will be less expensive than using the builders.
  • Accent Walls (Compare): This one goes back and forth on the list due to convenience. The builder will charge more to have their trim carpenter put up shiplap walls and do wood trims and chair rails. If you have someone in the family who is a good trim carpenter, or if you have a trim carpenter easily accessible get both bids and compare. Doing this yourself after closing is definitely less expensive, but if you want it done when you move in that is another story.

In Summary

You can easily upgrade every little thing with your builder, but some things are best left for after. Use these tips to save some money during the build. Let us know in the comments what things you think you should upgrade with the builder, and what you should upgrade yourself after?


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