By Judy L. Marchman
The main thrill in building a new home is the opportunity to make it totally yours. You get to pick the colors, finishes and fixtures, so it’s not hard to get starry-eyed after touring a model home and envisioning all of the possibilities.
But, once you find out how much all of those possibilities can cost, you’re faced with having to make some tough decisions about which design center upgrades to include. Don’t sweat it! The process doesn’t have to be too daunting, especially if you have a great builder design consultant to work with.
If you’re on the path to building your own home or recently trekked through a model home and are wondering about all the what-ifs, Dawn Allee, senior design consultant at the David Weekley Homes Design Center in Austin, Texas, offers these strategies for helping you get the home of your dreams, while making the most of any budget:
Know what’s important to you in a home.
Choosing design options and upgrades comes down to the priorities you’ve set for your soon-to-be home and how your family will live in it. What are the areas that are most important? “We want home buyers to be comfortable with their decisions, to make sure they are spending their money in the right places for them,” Allee says.
Interested in knowing what are some of the most popular features other homebuyers want? Check out our Resource Center article, What Home Buyers Want in a New Home, to see which upgrades other home buyers can’t live without and how those compare with your wish list.
Know how you can afford to spend.
Can you live with standard lighting fixtures and carpet in exchange for getting the master bath of your dreams? Or, can you give up granite in the kitchen if that means you can afford hardwood floors throughout your home?
A design consultant can help you weigh the pros and cons of various upgrades, allowing you to stay on track by making adjustments as you go. “Consider if you were to cut something out, where would it be,” Allee says. “Or, conversely, if you could spend more in an area, where would that be?”
Structural always comes first.
Structural changes, such as covered patios, tray ceilings or pre-wired sound systems, should be considered up front because they could cost more to add after the house is built.
“Think about how easy something would be to add or change later and factor that into your choices,” Allee says. “Also, by including structural items up front, you are ensuring they are installed properly and are covered by the homeowner’s warranty.”
People love their kitchens, master baths and floors.
These three categories can eat up a big part of your budget if you’re not careful. But these areas often contain most of the “fun stuff” to pick for your home, making your choices that much harder.
“Everyone makes decisions differently or goes in a different order, but the path we generally follow with our buyers is to hit the big categories in their first design appointment — the kitchen, master bath, flooring,” Allee says. “You can spend money fast in those areas. People can walk out of the appointment a little shell-shocked, but it gives them time to think about their choices.”
Come prepared with photos of your design preferences.
Or put together a Pinterest board with images of colors, materials and fixtures that you like. Allee says this can help your designer understand your preferences: “If you show your designer the look you would like to achieve, your designer can help you get the home of your dreams.” And, most important, without breaking the bank.
Judy Marchman is a freelance writer and editor, with 20 years of magazine and book publishing experience. She writes about a variety of home-related topics for NewHomeSource.