New construction has slowed dramatically over the past several years but people are still building new houses. If you happen to be one of them, here is a list of items that you should consider adding when you make your purchase. Many are not on your standard options list but, rest assured, they are available. Ask. You will have a meeting scheduled with both a representative from the builder’s construction team as well as the design team. Take this list with you and ask away.
Shower Lights: It is always an option to install a light in the shower. It may seem silly but it can get dark in there. If you have never lived in a house where there was a light in the shower, you are in for a treat.
Position of Switches: If you can, walk through the model and test the positioning of all the light switches. If one seems awkward to you, ask if you can re-locate it. I once had a switch in my master closet that was at an unbelievably odd angle. I kicked myself every single day for not noticing before I signed on the dotted line.
Overhead Ceiling Lights: Again, this is something that you don’t realize in the rush and excitement of building a new home. Most builders do not put overhead lights in the secondary bedrooms. Yup! No lights. If you don’t catch this, you will be resigned to using lamps only. Generally, it is $150-200 to add what is called a ceiling fan bracket. This just means that the electric is in the ceiling and ready for you to hook up an actual light.
Footlights: Another item often overlooked, footlights are small lights, near the floor. Most often they illuminate a long hallway or the stairs. It is nice to leave them on overnight so guests and small children can find their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Holidays: Imagine your family celebrating the holidays in your new house. Where will you put the Christmas tree? How will you hang the outdoor lights? Do you have a special display for the mantle? Make sure all of these locations have plugs. You can ask the builder to install a plug just above the mantle or add extra plugs outside, even at the roofline to make your life easier in the future. It is one of the many benefits to building a new house.
Extra Sink: You are always offered the opportunity to have a utility sink in the laundry room. However, if your family does a lot of messy projects in the garage, it may be more convenient to have an extra sink there. They won’t have to trek through your clean house every time they need to rinse off.
Kitchen: The recent trend in kitchens is the pot filler faucet. It’s the one that you see in design magazines above the stove. Cool? Yes. Necessary? No. What is a huge help, however, is a “step-on” faucet at the kitchen sink. Professional kitchens employ the sanitary device and so can you. It is a minor adjustment to the plumbing in the early planning stages of building a new house.
Laundry: Many times you do not have an option as to the location of your new laundry room. If you do have that opportunity, think long and hard about how you do laundry before making a decision. Obviously no one wants to go to the basement anymore but the 2nd floor trend isn’t much better. If you are single or an empty-nester, who does a load or two on a Saturday while cleaning, upstairs is fine. No sense in lugging the heavy basket up and down the stairs. If you are a stay-at-home mom, who is constantly switching loads and folding things at the kitchen table, it would be better to have the laundry room near the kitchen where you spend much of your day.
Water Heater: Get a tankless hot water heater. That bears repeating: get a tankless hot water heater. It is better, cheaper and greener. Enough said.
Insulation: Builders always offer great insulation as a standard feature in their homes. They pride themselves on their R factor. What they don’t let you know, however, is that they are more than willing to insulate interior walls. Ask them to put regular, pink insulation between all the interior walls of your home. It should cost you less than $1000 and it will make such a huge difference. It is not the same as sound proofing your home, but it will muffle a lot of the noise.
Basement Egress: Back in the day, anyone could “finish” a basement. Unfortunately it has become more of a fire hazard and laws are changing. You will soon be required to have a form of egress or exit for safety. You can talk to the builder about your options. It may be several thousand dollars to add a proper egress window now but if you want to enjoy that basement later, you need one.
Garage Size: Add any extra square footage to your garage that you possibly can. If your builder allows you to add 6 feet in length or width, or both, take him up on it. If he doesn’t, ask. Even if you are single and drive a compact car, add the extra feet. No one every regrets the extra space.
Many, if not all, of these options are not written down anywhere for you. You have to ask. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk to your builder about them. We once had a client working with our real estate team who required her builder to import special heated toilet seats from Japan for her new home. The builder never even blinked. Think about your needs and ask for them to be met. Many changes can be made in the initial planning stages with any builder, you just need to ask.
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