By Nicole Jacobs, Houzz
When designing a new build with optional builder’s upgrades, it’s easy to go way over budget. There’s so much available, and many of those tempting upgrades may also be expensive. The first order of business, of course, is deciding what you can afford and what you cannot.
If your builder offers a designer, that person can take you through the process of designing your house to your specifications, with the associated costs for your choices. But if your builder doesn’t have a designer on your project, you may be left navigating the process on your own — and potentially facing decision fatigue. Consider these 11 ideas for your upgrade wish list. Each would be money well spent for the long-term enjoyment of your home.
Keep in mind that these items are nice to have — not essential. If you’re looking for a list of bare-bones upgrades that will save you money or headaches when done as part of the new build rather than later, read Part 1 of this series. In this story, we’re tackling those upgrades that are simply nice to have if they fit into your budget.
When building or renovating, it’s often best to put your money where your water is — that is, in the kitchen and bathrooms. You will find more function and resale value in upgrading those areas of the home, and many of the following suggestions are for upgrading those rooms.
1. Extra-height kitchen cabinets. We’re all looking for extra space in the kitchen, and sometimes it’s best to look up. Your builder’s standard upper-cabinet height may be 30 inches, but if you can increase that to 36 inches or even 42, it’s worth the upgrade. The height will provide an extra shelf of storage, and the closer you can get to the ceiling the better, for both storage and aesthetic reasons. (Short cabinets can look stumpy.) Bonus: Taking the uppers all the way up eliminates the space above for dust to collect. Shop for Kitchen Cabinets
4. Custom-painted cabinets. Depending on the cabinet supplier your builder uses, it may be possible to have the supplier spray your cabinetry a custom color of your choice. This is a wonderful upgrade that not only saves you the expense and effort later on, but also makes your new house unique to you. The other advantage is that if you choose to augment your kitchen later by adding more cabinetry or trim, you’ll be able to make anything fit seamlessly into your existing kitchen by matching the paint, especially if you’ve kept leftover paint or can get more using the paint code. Weigh the Difference of Painting Kitchen Cabinets With or Without a Pr
6. Designated microwave spot. Finding a place for your microwave should be a priority when designing your new kitchen with a builder, or when renovating, for that matter. After all, you don’t want to use precious countertop real estate. A common space-saving location for it is over the range, using a unit with a built-in fan. But you might instead consider moving it beside the stove area, as in this photo. That wayyou have the ability to use whatever range fan you’d like, since statement range fans are a stylish focal point in a kitchen. Another useful spot is built into a base cabinet, with a pots and pans drawer beneath.
7. Glass cabinet inserts. Glass-fronted cabinetry in the kitchen is usually an upgrade. If glass cabinetry for display items is important to you, do it now through your builder’s cabinet supplier because this may be difficult to do afterward. Ordering odd kitchen cabinet pieces such as boxes and doors is usually not possible for a custom cabinet company after the fact. So again, if you want anything special in the kitchen, do it now so your cabinets are a matching finish.
8. Upgraded tile. Some builders have a vast selection of stylish standard tile to chose from, and if this is your experience, you’re fortunate. Others have upgrades available that are modestly priced. Changing out your tile on your own later is a hassle, so if you’d like a tile that’s a bit different or trendy, it may be worth it to you to do now. When you weigh the builder’s premium on the upgrade against the time, effort and inconvenience this change would require later on, the builder’s upgrade may win out.
9. Special grout. Sometimes you don’t have to upgrade the tile to get the look you want. Some builders have their design team preselect the grout for each standard tile available — often a close match to the tile itself — simply to alleviate the strain their clients face in having to make yet another selection. Ask if this is the case, and whether you’re able to select your own grout to go with your tile selections. This strategy could give your standard tile a stylish, unique look.