Building a new home is an exciting time. You get to choose the builder you like, the floorplan you love, and the location you want to be in. Everything about your new build is tailormade for you. And beyond selecting which floorplan best suits you and your family, you get to choose from an array of options to further customize your new space.
While the level of customization is exciting, it can feel a bit intimidating. And while it’s easy to go into your selections meetings and get blown away with beautiful upgrades, there is that nagging little reality of the budget. So, if you can’t have it all, when should you splurge and when should you save? While the answer will be different for everyone, we’ve listed out a few key areas that generally hit the mark across the board.
Many builders will offer hardwoods or variations as standard in certain spaces, but generally, those spaces are limited and, of course, you have your options in your wood species and color tone. The cost to upgrade flooring can add up quickly, however, this is one area that is usually worth the cost.
Quality hardwoods and LVPs can last 20-50 years—or longer—and some offer additional benefits, like water barriers or scratch-proof finishes. And while certain things are easy to change over time, getting floors redone later is a lengthy process and one that often displaces your family while being completed. Do it now and avoid the headache later.
Given that you’ll likely spend significant time in this space, it makes sense to make a few upgrades you will truly enjoy.
Cabinets are costly to replace or even reface, so make sure you love your picks. Countertops can quickly add up, but since they’re bound to last for many years to come, they can be worth the splurge if there’s an option you can’t live without.
Love that pot filler? Undercabinet lighting? Smart features? How often will you use them? Let practicality guide your choice.
This one is a little trickier. Many floorplans will offer configuration options, such as swapping closet space for an extra bath or extending a standard room to feature a bay window. Extra baths and closets will add long-term value to your home, but before you commit, evaluate whether you truly need them and how often they’ll be used.
Outdoor living spaces are another common upgrade option and have grown in added value over recent years. If your budget allows, these are usually sound investments.
Other one-off upgrades that can be worth the splurge include upgrading flat paint finishes (it’ll save you loads in repainting later), a laundry room or garage utility sink, and any other practical features that are difficult to add post-build. Closet systems, upgraded doors, stylized windows—these all fall into the “nice to haves” but generally do not largely add to the function of your home in a way that pays off in the first few years.
Consider each upgrade as a need versus want, as well as from a use frequency perspective. In general, if it’s costly or time-intensive to do later, do it during your build. If you can hold off for a few years or it doesn’t change your home’s function, consider waiting.