New construction: What's worth paying for?

So you decided to purchase a new construction?  What now?  There are plenty of things to consider when buying a new home.  In general, when you use a production home builder, you will be limited on the choices you can make.  They will have specific lots and floor plans for you to choose from.  From there, you will be able to choose your upgrades.

Let’s start with the standard features.  Standard features are what come with the base price and this will vary by builder.  Make sure you compare builders.  A builder may have a higher base price on a similar home than another but they may offer more in their standard package.  For example, granite countertops are included in the standard package instead of laminate.

You need to prioritize.  Even with new construction, you will not get everything on your list.  

SIZE | If square footage is important to you, spend money on that sunroom bumpout.  Additions are cost prohibitive after the home is built so you may have to forego a finished basement or that amazing hand scraped wood floor so you can have that extra square footage in the sunroom.  Focus on the features that you will likely not change once the home is built.

ELEVATION | This should be pretty obvious but decide whether you want brick or stone from the very beginning.  There are features you can change once the build starts but your elevation is not one of them.  This may affect county permits, and will require more support due to the additional weight depending on the materials.

FIXTURES | I had a builder sales representative discourage me from buying the upgraded light and bath fixtures.  The upcharge is incredibly high and that is something that a homeowner can easily change after they move in.  In addition to saving money, you can choose the exact fixtures that you want instead of going with what the builder offers for an upgrade.

TRIM | Upgrade your trim and molding.  It adds a lot of character and adding shadow boxes or upgrading trim later on can be a hassle so if you like that look, it’s worth rolling that cost into your loan.

KITCHEN | Go through room by room but start with the kitchen.  What’s most important to you and what will cost more if you do it later?  If you like granite countertops, make that a priority.  Maybe that means not getting the stainless steel appliances you want.  You can slowly replace appliances later on and sell the ones you currently have to offset the cost.  You can't resell countertops.

LOT | Choose a lot that works best for your family and has the best resale value.  If you have kids, pay a premium for that cul-de-sac lot.  You will not regret it and it’s a great feature when you sell your home.  

OVERHEAD LIGHTS | A lot of builders these days won’t put overhead lights and ceiling fans in bedrooms.  If that’s the case for you, make sure to get them to do the rough-in for when you want to install a fan later.  It’s usually a couple hundred dollars per room but it’s better than hiring an electrician to wire it later.

BATHS | One thing I can’t stand in homes these days are the big builder mirrors.  Ask the builder not to install them.  It’s not a code violation to not have mirrors.  They are a safety hazard to remove later on.  Did I mention they’re ugly?  You can go to any home store and buy beautiful framed mirrors instead.  

Prioritize & plan ahead.