Tag Archives: Upgrades


Choosing your finishes and upgrades among your key homebuying decisions

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Choosing your finishes and upgrades among your key homebuying decisions

Buying a new home is a huge decision, probably one of the most significant decisions in your life. Deciding which finishes and upgrades will make it the home of your dreams can seem like an overwhelming stream of decisions. What’s important? It depends who you ask.

Cosmetic upgrades

According to many consumer surveys, the most popular upgrades are focused on the way something looks or feels, or how much energy it uses. That’s why a consumer is more likely to ask for radiant heat bathroom floors, glass tiles, butcher block countertops, low flow shower heads or an on-demand water heater. Those are great choices; attractive choices. The problem is, they’re all a bit… cosmetic.

For a different perspective, I went to some experienced Ontario builders and asked what they’d include on a list of upgrades if they were buying a new home from someone else. The answers were surprising.

There was no mention of butcher block countertops or glass tiles. But builders do think about features you might not, such as ensuring there are no blind corners in the kitchen cupboards (so the lids from your plastic containers can’t sneak off there to hide.)

Builders would opt for energy efficient fixtures like low flow shower heads but there was also plenty of enthusiasm for less visible features, like metal framing. They’re also in favour of drywall arches, boxing as well as any backing at trusses be done with metal framing for strength and durability.

As for the basement, builders who are buying houses are thinking less about laminate flooring styles, and more about adding fibre mesh reinforced basement floor concrete, since it will reduce the potential for cracks and curling later.

Outside, if your house and your neighbour’s house are built less than three metres apart, many builders would skip the strip of grass between the houses and opt for stone side yards. Without sunshine, you’re never going to have much more than three blades of grass and six weeds anyway, so it makes sense to keep it low maintenance.

‘Invisible’ upgrades

What it comes down to is this: Builders know a house that’s built with those “invisible” upgrades is far less likely to face costly structural repairs down the road.

If you’re buying a new home and thinking about upgrades that are worth the investment, talk to your builder about all the options that might be available. Stronger infrastructure elements are an investment that will keep you and your family happy and safe in your home for many years to come.

Howard Bogach is president and CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corp.



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Home Builder – Choose Your New Home’s Upgrades With Care

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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:
YouTube.com/BILDGTA and
BILD’s official online blog: BILDBlogs.ca


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Condo Market

Condo Market : Upgrades Can Work For You In More Ways Than One!

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Condo Market : Upgrades Can Work For You In More Ways Than One!

When purchasing a new condominium, or any new home for that matter, you have the advantage of being able to select your features, finishes and upgrades.

How wonderful it is to ensure that your surroundings reflect your personality and aesthetic preferences! Your choices certainly enhance your lifestyle. Even if you plan to live in your new home or condo for many years, however, remember that it is also one of the largest financial investments you will make in your lifetime. When you pick out features, finishes and upgrades, think about what will bring in the best return-on-investment when you sell someday. All things being equal, something like hardwood flooring, granite countertops or crown moulding could be the deciding factor for potential purchasers.

Of course, today’s new condominiums come with standard features that are of such high quality and beauty that many buyers are happy with them. In fact, our typical roster of standards is far above what builders in the United States offer. Those who opt to upgrade would do well to think about their effect on future value. Upgrading at the time of purchase rather than waiting and doing it in a few years enables you to factor your choices into your mortgage now, while rates are still incredibly low. In addition, you eliminate the mess and hassle of renovating in the future.

It is of the utmost importance to be well prepared for your colour selection appointment, which is one of the most exciting steps in your new condo purchase journey. Bring in photos of décor elements you love, as well as fabric swatches and accessories you intend to use, and ask your décor consultant to guide you through the possibilities of making these work in your suite. Keep an open mind as well – your consultant knows the products and understands what will complement your chosen design.

Usually, upgrades have to be paid for at the appointment, so go in with your chequebook ready and choose carefully. Most people know that historically, kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. Upgrades in those two areas are most likely to bring you a substantial return-on-investment. The scope of upgrades available in many condos today includes wine fridges, quiet self-closing drawers, paneled appliances for a furniture look (nice in an open-concept area), cabinetry with glass fronts, pasta taps, under-counter valance lighting, stainless steel appliances and extended islands. In your bathroom(s), you may have the options of luxurious marble flooring, soaker tubs, rainwater showerheads, unique vanities and more. Think, too, about environmentally friendly upgrades such as natural stone countertops.

Of course, all of this depends on your budget. You want your living spaces to be both beautiful and practical, and you also want the most for your condominium dollar. A few upgrades may be the way to go for comfort now and resale value later on. Give it some thought, do some research and ask your decor consultant for some advice.

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Incorporated and an in-demand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com


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