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New Construction: What Is Standard vs. Upgrades?

Model homes commonly showcase almost every upgrade offered by the builder.

New home buyers often fall in love with the model homes they visit because the builders hire interior designers to showcase almost every premiere feature they offer. As such, it is important to clarify what IS and what IS NOT included in the model that you buy.

Here is a list of typical upgrades offered by most new home builders:

  • Coffered, Vaulted, or Raised Ceilings,
  • Built-in Shelving, Alcoves, Art Niches, or TV Cut-outs,
  • Bonus Room, Mud Room, Laundry Room, In-Law Quarters, or Sun Rooms,
  • Covered Patio or Lanai, Wood Deck, Brick Paver or Concrete Slab Patio,
  • Swimming Pool (with Option to Screen Patio),
  • Landscaping (Front/Rear/Sides),
  • Fireplaces and Mantles,
  • Covered Porch,
  • 1 to 3 Car Garage and/or “Porto Cochere” (carport),
  • Dormers (real or faux), Shutters (real or faux), or Decorative Windows (such as “Bay” Windows),
  • Skylights or Recessed Lighting, and
  • Optional Siding (Brick, Stone, Stucco, or Log Siding). Note: I recommend you avoid buying a home with synthetic stucco, vinyl, aluminum, Hardy board (aka T-111 siding), or Masonite lap siding. These low cost options have aged poorly in the past and may cost you money for replacement when you want to sell, as well as lose its luster and reduce your home’s curb appeal.

Also, keep in mind what others are doing in your neighborhood. An appraisal rule of thumb to keep in mind is that if your home is the only one in the neighborhood that has a fancy “thing-a-ma-gig” that nobody else has, it will be deemed an “over improvement” and not be given weight to the bottom line market value of your home.

In closing, when negotiating the features of your new home, be sure to get the cost of each upgrade upfront and in writing and stick to your budget. Compare the builder’s costs versus doing it yourself, or consider the cost of outsourcing some of these optional items, such as the pool, on your own, post-purchase. But do keep in mind that any items included now will also be financed into your home loan at highly remarkable, low interest rates – in today’s market October, 2020 – that’s under 4% for a fixed 30-year loan.

Best of luck in your new home construction purchase!