When building a new home there are countless upgrades and add-ons available which can quickly increase your home building costs. You should first consider what kind of improvements would make your life easier and what kind of add-ons your family will appreciate and use. Perhaps one of the most common upgrades most builders look for is long-term cost savings. As in, ‘is there a better way of doing this now so that I save money in the long run’. Below are some of the best upgrades in new home construction.
Ah the kitchen, the room that provides your meals and keeps you fed. Believe it or not, the kitchen is the room in which the family spends the most amount of time per year. Even if you’re not a Michelin star-rated chef you should seriously consider a few kitchen upgrades to make your life easier and more efficient down the road. First, consider what your long-term goals for the kitchen will be. Are you building this house with the eventual to sell it in the future? Either way, the cabinets and major kitchen appliances will be the focal point of your kitchen and its longevity.
What kind of kitchen cabinets will depend on your design aesthetic, your budget, and what kind of performance you’re looking for. For example, for more contemporary styles with minimal/clean lines, Mission Cabinets are a favorite among many new home builders. Or for a more traditional look, beaded kitchen cabinets make a great choice for those who want to portray or more traditional look in the kitchen. Having so many quality options is what makes ktichen upgrades some of the best upgrades in new home construction.
When it comes to kitchen appliances the two biggest factors you should consider are longevity and energy savings. Of all the electronics in your new home, your dishwasher and fridge will undoubtedly take up a huge chunk of energy and space which is why it’s also important to consider a local mover to help move things around. Again the dishwasher you go with will also depend on your aesthetic and budget, but try to consider the long-term savings above all else. Both Bosch and GE are examples of popular dishwashing brands that come with great looks and more importantly favorable ratings from consumers when it comes to cleaning ability, storage space, and energy/water efficiency.
The next big consideration is the roof. Many new home builders don’t pay much attention to the roof because it’s one piece of the house we often neglect or don’t think about, but really it can be one of the best upgrades in new home construction. When it comes to the roof, you want something that will last a long time, offer easy access for necessary repairs and maintenance, as well as, be easy enough to replace or modify later down the road. Most homes in the United States are built with concrete tiles, but that is changing fast. Concrete tiles are an okay option for new home builders, they match pretty much a house style, come in a variety of colors and mixes, can be repaired per shingle rather than the entire roof needing to come off, and they are priced reasonably well in most markets. However, concrete shingles simply don’t last long, and they do nothing to provide insulation or serious roof protection. Instead, concrete shingles do one thing, keep water out and that is it.
Luckily there is a new roofing material that’s been making its way onto the market for several years and you’ve probably seen it one newer home or homes that just had new roofs put on. Metal Roofing is becoming very popular due to its unique advantages over other materials like concrete shingles. A metal roof is cheaper, keeps the water out better, offers slight insulation, actually protects the top of the house with its durable metal, and offers quicker and easier install times. All of that means less money out of your budget and a longer-term roof that will stand up against weather for longer. The only downside would be the design aesthetic, metal roofs can look great on some houses and not-so-great on others. So, be sure to have a roofer come by with samples of their previous work to see if it will meet your home style. Also, keep in mind the more insulation the better as metal roofs can reflect heat very well.
Speaking of insulation, one of the biggest energy vacuums throughout your house are the windows. One of the best best upgrades in new home construction is using vinyl frame windows where the border of the window (where the glass meets the house) is vinyl and can keep out cold drafts while keeping hot air in and vice versa. Vinyl is by far the most common material and style for windows in modern homes today with over 20 million vinyl window frames sold last year alone. But, not all vinyl is the same. You want to find window frames with the Window Rating Energy Scheme sticker on the product packing. Along with that sticker, go for something rated ‘5’ as this will provide the best possible energy efficiency on the market at that time. Along with better window framing, also consider getting double-glazed windows where you don’t plan on opening the windows often. Double glazing simply means there are two layers of glass and an air gap between the two panes of glass. This setup will insulate your windows better during the summer or winter months.
Another aspect of the house to consider that connects you to the outside world is door installation. As mentioned previously, the design will play a big role in the type of door you choose, but most new home builders don’t consider the most crucial factor that makes a good door, security. Think about it, besides the windows, the door in your home is the most easily accessed path from the outside to the inside. Even interior doors should have a consideration for safety and privacy. That’s why more safety-oriented home builders opt for decorated steel doors for exterior-facing doors. Decorated steel simply means the door is constructed out of solid steel and made to look like it’s wood or paneled for a more welcoming feel while maintaining the integrity and security of a solid steel door.
However, when it comes to safety in a door, the weakest link is actually what’s holding the door on, not the door itself. Even with a solid steel door, an intruder or unwanted guest could still manage to strike the hinges or frame of the door and get inside. This is why is critical to consider double or even triple reinforcing the door hinges with solid steel or titanium screws and mounting equipment. You’ll also want to make sure your strike plate is a security-rated one and that your door frame is not only reinforced but made with security in mind. Since this is an upgrade that can make your home’s safety and curb appeal better, upgrading your door is one of the best upgrades in new home construction.
Another of the best upgrades in new home construction that will increase the value of your home is the deck. The first thing to consider is whether the deck is actually attached to your home or a free-standing structure. You’ll also want to consider the height and weight-bearing need if the deck is not low to the ground. You’ll also want to consider what your family will be doing on the deck. For example, not everyone likes to grill out, but maybe you do. Will your deck need room for something like a hot tub or pool? Draw out your plans first, and think about the space needed. Then it’s time to plan what kind of materials should be used.
Wood is by far the most common deck-building material. But, it isn’t quite that simple either, after all, wood comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, styles, qualities, and more. The most common wood used is pressure-washed and treated wood. That kind of wood is typically cedar and is easy to work with. Pressure-treated wood is very easy to stain for protection, but will also very quickly rot and fall apart if not treated and looked after. Composite board is also fairly common and will likely last longer than the pressure-treated board. However, composite will also take on scratches and stains more easily and doesn’t always look at ‘woody’ as a pressure-treated board. On the more expensive side is exotic woods like tropical varieties. These woods tend to be much more durable and hard, therefore they last a long time and look great. The downside is, they are often difficult to work with for a deck builder. Due to the hardness of most tropical woods used in building decks, they quickly dull cutting blades, are very heavy per board and will require more foundational work due to their weight.
Another of the best upgrades in new home construction is an outdoor upgrade — you’ll want to consider your trees. Yes, trees technically are not a part of your home, however, they are part of the property and therefore can have an effect on the home for the future. Obviously, the main concern for most with large old trees would be the trees coming down on the house in which case tree trimming often fixes that issue without tearing the tree down. However, trees do a lot more good than you’d think. If you build smart you can utilize the shade a tree will provide on your property to keep certain areas of your house cool during the summer.
Another outdoor upgrade to consider is solar panels. Perhaps the most debated topic in new home building, solar panels are a must for home energy use and savings. We won’t dive deep into what kind of solar panels, configurations, and the likes because that is a whole topic that needs its own article. With that being said you’ll want to consider the average and maximum loads of your home appliances and try to plan your solar panel array to meet at least 125% of the maximum load. Why so much? If you’re going to run your house entirely off of solar power then you need a margin of safety where you can be sure that your energy needs will be met on cloudy days, in the case of a panel or two being down for repair, or for energy surge needs like when the whole family gets home for the day and uses every appliance in the house like the dishwasher, laundry machines, home elevators and more.
Another important factor is long-term energy storage options for all the energy your solar panels collect over time. Instead of just relying on the immediate weather to provide power, it’s a good idea to store any power you can for use when it’s cloudy out, or during the night. Therefore, consider some kind of home energy battery solution (there are many on the market) and again consider how much energy you’ll want to store to keep your home running in the event that the solar panels cannot collect enough light for ‘x’ amount of time. Considering eco-friendly, self-sustaining forms of power can be one of the best upgrades in new home construction.
Next up are driveways and what kinds of materials to use. Most paving services will assume you want a concrete driveway when discussing a new driveway, but not so fast, there are other materials that could offer a better solution. Concrete is popular because it’s rather affordable in the home building world, and it lasts a fair amount of time. An even more budget-oriented solution would asphalt which is even cheaper to install, absorbs heat better and will melt snow and ice faster, and is cheaper to repair and maintain. When you’re considering the best upgrades in new home construction, make sure to think about your driveway.
You’ll also want to think about plumbing when it comes to the best upgrades in new home construction that will save you energy and money in the long term. A major factor of the energy problem in most homes is the water heater. Getting a more efficient water heater will save you a ton of money in-home energy heating costs as well as time. Old water heaters can take hours to heat up large amounts of water to the desired temperature whereas newer water heaters can do the same work in just minutes and use less energy while doing it. Another consideration that will cost more now but save you more, in the long run, is the tank-less water heater. This style of water heater can pass small amounts of water through its system and rapidly heater water to the desired temperature saving you time. This also means only the exact amount of water that you need is heated rather than many more gallons than you needed.