Posted on: May 12, 2015If you’re building your own home with a builder, you’ll typically have the option to choose and invest in upgrades like higher quality floors, appliances, and electrical options. Builders often have a dizzying array of options to choose from, and it can be tough to know which ones are a good idea and a smart investment. In general, it’s best to focus on enduring investments like better insulation, higher quality construction, or more square footage. You should also focus on items that can’t be changed easily, like plumbing, electricity, and floor plans, for example. Other smart ideas are upgrades that will improve your quality of life or enjoyment of the home, like radiant heating floors, extra large closets, or task lighting. We’ve highlighted some of the smartest upgrades you can make with your builder, ranging from structural changes to electrical outlets. Plus, we’ve included average national pricing for these projects so that you can compare their cost of taking them on later after building is complete.
Major Builder Upgrades
- Home lot: One thing you really can’t change once you’ve built your home is the lot where it’s located. It’s practically impossible to move your home to a better area in the neighborhood or to a larger lot later. If you’re considering this upgrade, know that this is your one and only chance to take it!
- Structural changes: An extra bathroom, back porch, larger closets, extra garage area, or raised ceilings are all difficult and much more expensive to add once construction on your home is completed. Cost to build an addition: $35,000.
Kitchen Builder Upgrades
- Extra large or additional cabinets: Give yourself some extra storage with extra large or additional cabinets, or cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling. This is an upgrade that buyers are often willing to pay more for. Cost to install new cabinets: $4,000.
- Upgraded cabinet and drawer hardware: Opening and closing drawers and cabinets day after day for decades can really take a toll on your kitchen. Soft close hinges and premium drawer slides can keep your cabinets and drawers in good shape for years to come. Cost to repair cabinets: $252.
- Large center island: As the entertaining hub of your home, it makes sense to add more counter space, storage, and even an eating area with a large center island.
- Stainless appliances: Make your kitchen shine bright and improve your resale value with stainless appliances including an oven, stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator. Cost to refinish an appliance: $275.
- Add task lighting: Undercounter lighting and lighted cabinet interiors can make it easier and safer to work in your kitchen, plus add a nice look to your cooking area. These are often difficult to install after your kitchen is constructed. Cost to install a light fixture: $375/each.
- Stone countertops: Some builders are including granite, quartz, and other countertops as a standard, while others offer them as an upgrade. Most home buyers are looking for more than laminate, and as a home owner, you’ll get more use out of a sturdy stone countertop that will stand the test of time. Cost to install a countertop: $2,901
- Trash and recycling drawers: Make waste more convenient in your home with a trash compactor and a recycling drawer. You’ll spend less time having to run out to the garage or backyard with trash bags, plus, help conserve space and the environment.
Bathroom Builder Upgrades
- Extra large cabinets: Just like in the kitchen, the bathroom is a great place to consider investing in additional storage. Cost to install new cabinets: $4,000.
- Radiant floor heating: Keep your bathroom (and feet) warm with radiant floor heating installed by the builder. This is tough to do later unless you’re getting new floors installed at the same time. Cost to install a radiant heating system: $3,800
- Upgraded tile: Whether it’s on the floor or in the shower, tile often stands the test of time, making this a good area to splurge on quality materials. Cost to install natural stone tile: $1,400
- Separate shower: If you’re thinking about installing a separate shower, or even foregoing a tub and getting a shower instead, now is the time to decide so that you can have the right connections and save on installation. Cost to install a shower: $2,500
Exterior Builder Upgrades
- Brick or stone exterior: If your home comes with siding, but you’d rather have brick or stone, you should probably go ahead and choose the upgraded exterior when you’re building. It’s often difficult and expensive to upgrade exterior materials later. Cost to install a brick, stone, or block wall: $4,500/each
- Upgraded front door: Want your front door to stand out? Do it now. It costs significantly more later. Cost to install a door: $800
- Hurricane shutters: If you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes and other storms, it might be a smart idea to have the builder install them for you. Cost to install shutters: $1,400
Convenience & Custom Look Builder Upgrades
- Custom mud room or drop zone: If you don’t have a designated mud room or area to drop backpacks, mail, shoes, and other items near your home’s entrance or garage consider getting one from the builder. It will be difficult to add something like this later.
- Skylights: Skylights can add natural light to your home, and it’s best to have the builder do it as these are tough to add later — and you want the builder’s guarantee just in case of leaks. Cost in install a skylight: $1,400
- Extra windows: Another way to add lots of natural light to your home is with builder upgraded extra windows. They can even help you save on your energy bills if you don’t have to turn on your lights. Cost to install a window: $4,500
- Flooring: One of the most popular upgrades, flooring is something you’ll see throughout your home, and it makes a big impact. And while this is often cheaper to do later, it can be a big hassle to take care of once your furniture and other items are moved in. Plus, investing in flooring often pays off for future buyers.
Plumbing & Electrical Builder Upgrades
- Extra outlets: Consider adding extra outlets in the pantry, kitchen desk areas, or even outside. You can install extra outdoor outlets including a Christmas light outlet with a dedicated light switch inside. Also consider light switches for outlets where you may use lamps. Cost to install an outlet: $175/each
- Wiring for surround sound or connectivity: Wiring is typically difficult to install later, as it usually requires opening up walls. This is much easier to do before you have walls whether you plan to have surround sound, extra connectivity wiring, or more. Cost to install electrical wiring or panel: $1,300
- Extra ceiling fans: Rooms just feel nicer with a ceiling fan, and it’s easy to add when you’re building. Cost to install a ceiling fan: $200
- Efficient lighting: Consider energy efficient lighting, such as LEDs, instead of the builder to save money and energy. Cost to install a lighting fixture: $375
- Fireplace or extra fireplaces: This is another project that is simply much easier to do when you’re building than as a DIY later, so if you think you want them, get started on a fireplace with your builder. Cost to install a fireplace or woodstove: $1,450
- Rough in connections: Think you might want to finish out your basement or even your attic? It’s a good idea to get rough in plumbing to the area when you’re building so it will be easier to finish out later. Cost to install new plumbing pipes: $1,100
- Outdoor natural gas line: Fire up your natural gas grill with a gas line instead of propane tanks for convenience. Cost to install or repair a gas pipe: $400
Energy Saving Builder Upgrades
- Tankless water heater: More energy efficient and offering faster access to hot water, a tankless water heater is usually worth it. Cost to install a tankless water heater: $1,000
- Double paned windows: Double paned windows can keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Cost to install windows: $4,500
- Higher rated insulation: Another good way to boost your home’s temperature retention is with better insulation. Ask for a higher rating of insulation than what’s standard. Cost to install blown in insulation: $1,200
- High efficiency air conditioner: A high efficiency air conditioner can keep your home cooler in the summer and save you potentially hundreds or thousands in energy bills over the life of the unit. Cost to install an air conditioning unit: $5,000