Home Builder – Choose Your New Home’s Upgrades With Care
Do some homework and have a clear understanding of the standard features and finishes your builder is offering.
So you’ve bought a new home and are thrilled with your decision to buy one that is yet to be built. But when the time comes for your colour and upgrade appointment, your chance to make the decisions that will make your new home perfect, you find yourself both exhilarated and nervous.
It is not surprising that you may feel some anxiety, given that your home is probably the biggest single investment you will ever make — and you don’t want to get anything wrong.
So, to minimize any nervousness, do some homework and have a clear understanding of the standard features and finishes your builder is offering. As well, know where and what you want to upgrade.
If you’ve bought a single-family home, such as detached, semi-detached or townhome, you may have many options for structural changes — both big and small. According to BILD member Joseph Bozzo of Spectrum Realty Service, simple changes include adding pot lights, electrical and cable outlets, decorative moulding, upgraded flooring and enlarging closets.
There are more complicated changes that can be made, including moving bathrooms, enlarging windows and finishing basements, Bozzo adds, but they require new architectural drawings and will be priced accordingly.
Designer kitchens with all the toys always add to the resale value of the home, but, if possible, you should think about structural changes that improve ease of lifestyle, Bozzo says. Those include larger closets, semi-ensuites that can be shared by siblings, rooftop patios, backyards complete with amenities such as gas hookups for your barbecue, wine rooms and large kitchens for entertaining.
Exterior changes are rarely allowed since they are architecturally controlled, including garage doors and entry doors.
Condos are a lot trickier to change. Kitchen and bathrooms are locked into place because of the plumbing and ventilation stacks, and any load-bearing wall cannot be moved. Bozzo also points out that changing a three-bedroom to a two-bedroom unit, for instance, will affect resale values, so it’s best to stick with three bedrooms.
There are some upgrades that can easily be made to your new condo, including the addition of pot lights (depending on ceiling height) and extra electrical and cable outlets, says Barbara Lawlor of Baker Real Estate, another BILD member. Making closets bigger increases storage space but be aware that you will lose floor space. Redesigning your kitchen is possible as long as you don’t move the plumbing.
Of course, all of these changes will add to the price of your home — usually about 3 to 5 per cent of the purchase price. You should also know what your payment options are. If you plan on adding the upgrades to the final cost of the house, you will probably need permission from your mortgage holder. If you plan on paying for the upgrades separately from your mortgage, find out if the builder wants it all up front or if you can stagger the payments.
Finally, don’t wait too long to order your structural changes. If your house has already been framed, then it’s too late to change wall locations. And if the plumber and electrician have been through, it’s too late to add outlets, pot lights or move bathroom fixtures.
Bryan Tuckey is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on:
BILD’s official online blog: BILDBlogs.ca