My 'New Build' Upgrade Budget is Killing Me!!

The daunting task of choosing standard vs upgrade finishes 

This is a biggy….and it should be. Adhering to the allotted budget for a new build is key to the continued success of :

  1. your familial relationships

  2. your bank account

  3. your vacations

  4. your retirement

  5. and whether or not your kids eat wonder bread or organic bread at lunch
    … and so much more

How to spend your designated upgrade budget comes down to 4 conditions:

  1. do you have to do it now?

  2. can you do it later?

  3. how badly do you need it?

  4. how badly do you want it?

Let’s discuss how your wants and needs will dictate your new build budget. I have gone through this process several times personally and for my Luxury Transitions clients and feel qualified to discuss the prickly aspects of this (dirty) 6 letter word. BUDGET may be the only word in the english language that causes sweaty palms, eye rolls, eye twitches, side long glances to partners, fingers, toes, and eyelashes to be crossed. lying through your teeth, pleading, overestimating your wealth, underestimating your resolve, begging and experiencing absolute defeat.

Unfortunately, BUDGET is that word that separates the can have vs the cannot have. 

Your honest budget must be discussed and determined up front, before any new build proceeds. I know it hurts … it feels like a slap in the face or a punch in the gut, but better to have that nailed down first before you go shopping for a new home AND the subsequent upgrades.

You have made the decision to move into a new build house or condo. The price is right, THAT money is in the bank, you can make it work. The papers are signed, you are overjoyed, the extended family and friends are informed … there’s dancing in the street, champagne corks are popping. 

but hold on, you now need to focus on and start the nitty gritty work of choosing the finishes for your new build, the finishes that will transform the house you bought on paper to your 3 dimensional home. You will likely have several appointments at the builder Design Centre before signing off on all of your choices. The brutal truth is, the model homes you walked through before choosing your model, likely had more upgrades than standard finishes. You will be swayed by that and will feel compelled to upgrade your finishes to replicate the model homes you viewed. This is why it’s paramount that you have a clear idea of your realistic wish list and budget. I’ve said this once and I’ll repeat myself here …. IT’S A PROCESS!

It’s time to introduce that supremely annoying reality … COMPROMISE. To compromise means you are going to have to make selections that might not jive with your actual upgrade wish list. It really bites, but compromise exists to protect your BUDGET.

To aid you in choosing your upgrades that will align with your budget, I have constructed two lists:

DO NOT COMPROMISE and DO COMPROMISE.

DO NOT COMPROMISE list will likely chew up most of your budget, but for an excellent reason. These non-negotiable areas are permanent, will be difficult and sometimes impossible to adjust, fix or replace at a later date, not to mention expensive to upgrade later. I’m an advocate for choosing well once and right the first time as you don’t want to regret your selections and no one wants to see new product going to landfill because of a bad first choice.

STRUCTURAL CHANGES: almost impossible to do later 

LIGHTING PLAN: do it right the first time, you will thank me 

RAILINGS, NEWEL POSTS, SPINDLES INCLUDING STAIN 

FLOORING: huge real estate that can cost a bundle, but you should get the best flooring you can afford right off the top. You won’t regret it when you move in, set up your furniture and your new house feel like your home.

SHOWER TILES: If they are visible behind glass doors, you will want to do this right, the first time.  

TRIM AROUND FLOORS, DOORS AND WINDOWS: this is borderline not compromise, but unless you live with a handy person and don’t mind the mess later, choose the tile you want now. 

TOILETS, TUBS 

KITCHEN CABINETRY 

UNDER MOUNT KITCHEN SINK

BACKSPLASH: if your chosen counter is your permanent choice

BUILT-IN OR INTEGRATED APPLIANCES

DO COMPROMISE options are easily replaced later, with not a great amount of mess and can be sold, gifted or given to habitat for humanity, instead of going to landfill.

BUILDER GRADE LIGHT FIXTURES

DOOR KNOBS & HINGES 

KITCHEN DROP IN SINK: if choosing laminate counters

BATHROOM VANITY 

LAMINATE BATHROOM COUNTERS and SINKS 

BATHROOM TAPS, TOWEL BARS, TOILET PAPER HOLDERS: however, upgraded shower taps, and shower heads must have the same size fittings as originals

KITCHEN TAP: number of drilled holes need to remain the same or be covered with a plate

KITCHEN HARDWARE: must be replaced with hardware having the same centre to centre measurements

BACKSPLASH: if intention is to replace counter

KITCHEN CABINETRY DRAWER, CUPBOARD ORGANIZATION INSERTS : can be bought and inserted later

AC and HVAC, SECURITY SYSTEM, WIRELESS TECH: can be added later and possibly for more competitive price 

PAINT: you can certainly upgrade at point of sale, but often walls and trim need to be patched up and repainted a year after move in. Also, you may want to live in and get acquainted with your space before upgrading your paint choices.

Huge decisions that impact the quality of your life deserve time and careful thought. Expect compromises, and don’t yield on the permanent selections. Know what your upgrade budget is and spend those dollars wisely. My next post will be how and why an Interior Design Consultant can assist with the timeline, and many facets of choosing the finishes for your new build home or condo.

*all photos taken by Maureen Coates, Luxury Transitions

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