Builder Grade to Beautiful: Introduction

In May 2012 my husband and I bought a nice new home! It is so exciting and lots of work but maybe out experience will help others out there who are interested in doing the same thing or are already in the process.

Back to the beginning...

In January we found the perfect subdivision and the floor plan we wanted and the appeal of a new home was high for my husband who just spent five years rehabbing an older home. The process is long, hard but so rewarding and the reward for us was to buy brand new. One thing we wanted to keep in mind when starting this process is that we didn't want to overpay for upgrades and/or go overboard and grow more debt then we really need (because a house loan is enough)! My husband and I agreed that we would only choose upgrades that we couldn't/wouldn't do later. Here are a couple things we discussed (requested pricing) and below you will find the list of items we settled on.

What we selected as "upgrades":
Upgraded Insulation
9' Basement Pour
Low E Windows
Kitchen Cabinets to the Ceiling
Taller Vanity in the Master Bath
Window in the Stairway
Ceiling Fan in the Family Room (we chose to brace the bedrooms ourselves because my husband could gain access through the attic but the family room wouldn't be so easy)
Ceiling Lights in all the Bedrooms (easier to already have electric run to the switch)
Pocket Door to the Laundry Room
Extra Large Patio :)
Heavier Carpet Pad in the Bedrooms
Nickel Door Hardware (because brass comes standard... so silly!)
Removed Appliances (received a $1,000 credit)

What else we considered for oury "upgrades":
Hardwood Floors (it was really outrageous... an extra $5 per square foot for the cheapest stuff - stay tuned because this will definitely be a project later!)
Stainless Steel Appliances ($1,500 and we wouldn't get to pick them)
Ceiling Fan Braces in all the Bedrooms (this was truly outrageous... $350 each.. just for the brace!)
Egress Window (I think this is the one thing we regret... with 9' walls in the basement the standard basement windows look even smaller. The extra light would have been good.)
Garage Extension (soooo gosh darn expensive)
Extended Front Porch (was expensive and complicated because the roof came over the patio)
French Doors to the Patio

I think we made great choices because the items we settled on were things we couldn't/wouldn't do because of time, money, and/or effort to do it later. I think the one thing that could have waited was the door hardware but for 30ish doors it would have taken my poor husband forever to switch out the hardware! A couple things I am so glad glad we chose: the 9' basement pour, upgraded windows, and upgraded insulation. We would not be able to increase basement height later unless we dug it out (yuck!), we probably would NEVER upgrade the windows because that's a huge expense, and we definitely wouldn't open the walls to upgrade the insulation later. Feeling great about those decisions! One other thing that was tough but I'm glad we decided the way we did were the appliances. We didn't get much of a credit BUT we found great deals on our amazing appliances so it was worth the extra expense. I found a quiet dishwasher, a french door bottom freezer fridge, a lovely convection oven, and a microwave all for $3,000, That seems like a lot (or at least it did for us at first) but it's worth the expense! The quiet dishwasher was a must because we have an open floor plan, the french door fridge was a must because of the placement of the fridge and the pantry door, and the convection oven because I have managed with a stove that cooks so unevenly and it's maddening!

The main thing to remember is that if you are resourceful you can save a lot on your loan which means more in interest! People we talked to that went through the same process warned that they ended up adding about $30,000 to their loan with all the upgrades they wanted. You can manage these upgrades so be smart and pay with cash later! You don't have to be house poor if you have patience and dedication to work through projects (with my help of course :)).

Please don't hesitate to comment and/or ask questions about the process, our choices, etc. I would love to hear from YOU! :)

-> Kassy <-

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