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Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Posted by mordak (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 15, 12 at 19:24

I'm buying a new house, 2500 sq ft in North Carolina.

The house has a living room, dining room, great room, kitchen, breakfast nook, laundry room, 4 bed, 2.5 bath.

The builder is offering $15,000 in upgrades to pick from. I've picked like $18k so far. What should I cut out?

Full front porch+Brick on porch+garage $5150
Master Bath (adds extra sink, separate shower, garden tub) 3575
14x14 patio upgrade from 12x12 $260
Cable outlet x5 (4 bedroom+great room) $225
Fan prewire x6 (4 bed, great room, dining room) $600
Flood lights $150
Paint whole house (instead of just white) $1250
Insulated garage door $285
Chrome faucets $125
Vinyl floors level 2 (laundry, master bath, hall bath, half bath, kitchen, nook) $700
2" faux wood Window blinds $1400
Water heater 40 gallon gas (Upgrade from 50 gal Electric) $300
Garage door insulation $285
Kitchen island $1650
Open rails on 1st floor stairs $600
Laminate upgrade $125
Carpet pad 6 lb 1/2 inch $1130

TOTAL $17,810


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Chrome faucets are an upgrade?

I'd check the pricing on window blinds. Perhaps it would be better to install them after you have moved in.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

I wouldn't do the insulated garage doors in NC. I think the wiring of the tvs in all bedrooms is important for resale. I am not a fan person so I would elminate all those ;)

I think the best way to look at it is which can I upgrade later, and which are not easy to upgrade. I would keep the brick on the porches and front and the master bath upgrade for sure because those can't be added later.

I also would say that 3k in upgrades adds a few dollars to your mortgage payment at these low rates so keep that in mind. I might rather pack my lunch every day than cut some of these things out. . .


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

I agree with Athensmom about the fans! Also, is that paint upgrade for interior paint? If you really need to cut the cost...I'd just have them paint all the rooms white for now. Then you can slowly paint the rooms yourself? Good luck with your build!


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Yes the standard walls are white. The $1250 is for the whole house to be painted a color. I've never painted before, is it easy to do myself?

Why not do the insulated garage door? I'd like to put a small gym in my garage.

As for fans, they are much cheaper than running the AC thats why I like them.

Is it ok to do cable in bedroom+great room only and skip dining/living room cable?


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!!

How about I drop the $1650 built-in island and do this $800 island with stools instead? Picture below

Here is a link that might be useful: island picture


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Don't do the island at all. You can do a plain aftermarket worktable there instead for now and plan something really nice later. You might even find a cool antique piece to repurpose. Skip the insulated garage door, laminate upgrade and vinyl upgrade. You can insulate the garage door yourself for less than $50. DIY porcelain tile on the floors yourself after you move in. And do granite later instead of upgrading the laminate. Entry level granites are almost as cheap as an upgraded laminate.

I would not skip the fan box upgrades. That will be hard to do later and would cost a lot more. I wouldn't skip the cable either. If the blinds include measuring and installing for all of the windows, it's not a bad deal at all.

One upgrade I would absolutely insist on would be at least a 50 gallon gas water heater. 40 just isn't big enough with most people enjoying larger tubs and more shower heads. Or, do a gas tankless if you will be in the house for longer than 5 years. The cost difference during building is minimal, but the cost to upgrade later is substantial.

If this is to be a long term residence, I would also insist on 2x6 construction and an upgraded insulation package. That would be more important than any these decorative upgrades offered and would make the house more comfortable, quieter, and cheaper to own. I'd skip every other upgrade on the list but the master bathroom in order to upgrade the envelope. You only get one chance to do that right.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

While greendesigns has a point about upgrading envelope, some of these big builder homes are so leaky that upgrading insulation might be futile. In much of NC, getting an energy star certificate saves 5% lifetime on energy bills. If it gets the builder to air seal better, it is worth it.

I am surprised by the fan comments - every house in the south should be prewired/braced for fans. I am surprised it isn't code yet - think of the safety issues when future owners put in fans.

2x6 walls in much of NC is nice but pretty far down the list of energy smart upgrades.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

The upgraded laminate counters are only $125, no way you can find granite counters for even close to that. This builder is not energy star certified...they told me the materials are just as good though but they don't want to pay for the certification because it would raise the homes prices too much.


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More thoughts!

If you don't get the fan prewire in the dining room...will they still put an overhead fixture there? It would be odd if a builder didn't include some type of chandelier in the dining room in the basic package. Unless your house is reallllly casual, like a beach house, I think most future buyers would expect a light fixture, not a fan in the dining room.

What is the standard plumbing finish you will get if not chrome? Do you love the island? Is it really pretty or just so-so? Do you think it will impede your work flow? Are you the main cook? I am thinking ditching the island for now might be the best option...it is one of the more expensive items and I think you could find something special to replace it with in the future.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Will you heat/cool the garage? If not, then don't insulate the garage door.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

No I won't heat/cool the garage. My friend said I can insulate the garage door myself for $50, so I won't get the $285 upgrade from the builder for that.

If you don't get the fan prewire then no, there is no ceiling light either. The fan prewire is $150 per room, and the ceiling light with switch is $125 per room. I'll do ceiling fan in 4 bedroom, great room, living room, then the overhead light in Kitchen and Dining room :)

I don't cook a ton, mostly frozen foods, single bachelor at 26. So I think I'll pass on the $1,650 island and get one later for $1,000 myself.

What about the blinds for $1400? There's 19 windows and a sliding glass door. On blinds.com it looks like I could get the blinds for $750-1000 so I'm leaning towards that.

As for paint, I'm gonna keep the standard white builder paint for the 1st year, then after they fix all the nail pops I will paint the rooms one-by-one by myself. (I have no painting experience however) but I think I can get the house done for under the $1,250 the builder wants.

How about an outside motion detector light for $220? The chrome faucets throughout house for $125? Crown molding at $500 per room? Deciated 20 amp shop circuit in garage? Upgrade attic fiberglass insulation from R30 to R38? (Don't have price on that yet)


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Drawers for the lower kitchen cabinets. SOOO much better than fixed shelves, and better that roll outs too. (See the link below for info and pictures; it's from the kitchens forum.)

Also see if you can minimize or eliminate any fillers in your kitchen. Even small spaces can be put to work with pullouts. Check www.rev-a-shelf.com/ for some ideas, like the one below which is a "filler pullout".

Here is a link that might be useful: Drawers vs pull out shelves


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PS: carpet padding

I see carpet padding is on your list and that's good. When we picked out carpet, we tested the samples with different levels / qualities of padding. A good padding can make even a lower end carpet feel much more plush, so don't skimp on the padding. This is something that I think is best checked out in person. (Check the carpet allowance and then visit a dealer to see what you're getting without an upgrade. Make sure you can tell if the allowance includes labor or not; you want to be able to see what kind of carpet and padding you can buy to stay within your allowance.) We took different levels of carpet and tried them with different levels of padding.

Also depending on your room sizes, you might be able to get a great price on a high end carpet remnant. We were able to get really nice carpet for DS's room from a large remnant. You can tell the difference just walking in the room. There were remnants up to 20' long and more, which surprised me. It's hit or miss of course but worth a look.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Mordak, I too am building a home and just finished selecting my upgrades. Something to consider is the longevity of the upgrade. I made it a point to spend my upgrade dollars on things I could not easily upgrade later (such as your porch/brick upgrade). Items like flooring and finishes are likely not going to last the duration of my mortgage so I am doing those afterwards.

Also, anything I plan to replace within a reasonable timeframe, like the laminate counter in the kitchen, I chose the basic option (no additional cost) and will upgrade later. Why pay extra for something I will replace anyhow?

You were asking about the chrome faucets as an upgrade, is the standard brass? It's not a huge amount so if it's your preference then why not?

Crown can be added later, as can patio upgrades (are we talking concrete pad or a wood patio...that would be more difficult). And as previous posters have mentioned paint and window coverings can be had for cheaper if you put in the labor and do it yourself.

I didn't see any mention of cabinet or appliance upgrades, have you looked at any of those? I hadn't planned on upgrading my appliances until I found out the included dishwasher was the old "latch" closure type and $100 would get me a more updated model. I am sure all builders are different though so it may not be something you are concerned about.

Good luck -this process is fun, but stressful!


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

I would only do the upgrades that would be difficult to do later. When we bought our first house we upgraded the cupboards, put in a soaker tub and patio doors in the master bedroom. We waited to upgrade other things gradually, after we moved in.

I would out the following upgrades:
outside motion detector light for $220-you can buy and install motion sensor lights in your outdoor fixtures for much less.
Paint whole house (instead of just white) $1250- easy to do yourself later. Paint is cheap.
Insulated garage door $285
2" faux wood Window blinds $1400- much cheaper to buy yourself
Kitchen island $1650


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Grayce thank you. I'm cutting all those out, but I'm not sure about the island...I've looked online at portable islands but they don't look nearly as nice... Although they are $800 instead of $1650


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

I would skip the island and you can do it later. Just get the name of the cabinet maker who made your cabinets (which you need anyway) and live without it for a while. . .

Do you have ample storage without the island?


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Laminate

Also, what do you mean by laminate upgrade? What is on the counters if you don't upgrade? There are some good looking laminates out there (I love the Oiled Soapstone by Wilsonart) that aren't expensive. There is a reader on here who did that countertop with a square edge (rather than an eased edge) and then used a sharpie to cover up the seam. It looks so much like soapstone it is nuts!

IKEA also has nice looking laminate with a square edge.

So from your list, I would eliminate the insulation of the garage doors, the kitchen island and the paint - all of which are either unnecessary or can be added easily later.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

The laminate counters are standard, can upgrade to premium laminate + more color selection for the $125.

Oak cabinets are standard...should I upgrade those to Birch?


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

I would keep the island just for resale value. Does the builder's island include an electrical outlet? I would want to be able to use electrical appliances on the island. To add an island later and add an electrical outlet might be very expensive, or next to impossible.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

What part of NC are you building? Several of the items you listed as 'up grades' should be standard.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Concord NC and the builder is Timberstone Homes. I haven't signed the contract yet, I was going to sign it this Thursday


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Those prices all seem very reasonable to me!

If the $1250 price for painting includes different colors for different rooms (2 coats) and different trim color, that is a steal. Yes you can do it yourself later but your time is money also. It is also a lot easier when the house is empty. If the $1250 is one color for the whole house the added price is probably for edging out the trim. FYI It cost me $1000 in Maryland just to get my hallways, ceiling, and trim painted on 2 floors with relatively cheap painters ($550 per day for 2 painters).

I'd def get all the pre-wiring.

The kitchen island can always be added later, agree with that.

$1400 for INSTALLED faux wood blinds for 19 windows and a sliding door is also a steal. It is about $500 for labor, estimate 2 hours per window since you are a novice and you will be paying about $10/hr labor. Even $20/hr is a good price for labor imo.

It's all cost vs your labor.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

I got a quote from the builder.

I can upgrade from 13HPX and CBX26UH (13 SEER and 7.7 HSPF) to:

$$$$$
A) XP13, CBX27UH blower (14.2 SEER, 8.3 HSPF, 11.5 EER) ARI #4611972

$$$$$
B) XP14, CBX27UH blower (15.5 SEER, 9.0 HSPF, 13.0 EER) ARI #4686863

Also they want $470 to upgrade from R30 to R38 in attic (blown in fiberglass) and $930 to go from R13 to R15 in the exterior walls.

Should I keep the standard, upgrade A, or upgrade B?
Should I upgrade the attic, walls, or both insulation?

I'm in Charlotte NC


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

What is the cost to upgrade to higher SEERS? 13 SEER is code min.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

R 38 is the absolute minimum recommended, even in a warm climate. R 30 and R 13 would not pass inspection here. I'd do the walls in a heartbeat, and look at doing blow in cellulose on top of batts in the attic. You generally get more R for your money that way with the benefit of the dust barrier of the batts. I'd also install a radiant barrier on top of the cellulose. Be sure that the home has sufficient air channels installed for the vented soffit as well as the proper ridge vent.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Home Building by new and upcoming builders in the market of building construction is the investment of profit as for attaining stability in the market they will provide you rebate in their home construction rates as well as provide you the best of what they can.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Lose the blinds, crown, garage insulation etc. Keep the fan boxes, master bath, porch and I think you should keep the island. Built in islands just look better to me IMO. I would paint myself later, is is super easy and you can pick the colors after you get in the house and see how you are really going to use the rooms with furniture and everything.

The energy upgrades are worth it. But you can always have more insulation blown in the attic later if you decide to.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

I'm also in NC. I like to paint in my own house, I'm in charge of painting our rental houses, I help my sisters with their rentals also, and we painted my dad's before we put it on the market. There is so much painting involved in a new house, I would rather have a contractor paint the whole house intially. You have a 2500 square foot house. Choose your colors and have them do it. It's tough to work around drop cloths, moulding, window frames, covering furniture...then you are the one who would need to put on the second coat if the first didn't cover. Definitely choose the painting.


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RE: Building new, need help picking upgrades!

Hi mordak,

What was your final list of upgrades? We hope to be building in a short while and also have free upgrades and are not sure which way to go as yet.


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