Keller Williams


Design Issues

One of the (many) fun (or aggravating, take your pick) aspects of building a new home is designing the living spaces. The floorplan has been set by the developer. You can buy certain structural upgrades (within 5-10 days of signing the build/purchase contract). These options would include things like fireplaces, balconies, extra sound-proofing, and sliding doors. These decisions are important in that once your home has been built, a retrofit to add these features would be much more expensive. But of course, these options may add considerably to your total purchase price, and so some buyers will avoid these upgrades. Remember, there are long-term implications to these choices, including the future-sale value of your home.

Regardless of the structural options, you must choose interior design options. These include flooring, counter-tops, cabinets, plumbing fixtures, lighting, interior doors, tile surrounds for your showers, and the like. You will need to make all of these selections, usually within 20-45 days of signing your build/purchase contract.

There are ‘standard’ finishes from which you can make ‘free’ selections, and there are a plethora of options at different cost levels. For example, there might be 3 ‘free’ cabinet finish options, and one ‘free’ cabinet hardware option. But there may also be another 20 cabinet options ranging in price from $3,000 – $30,000, and another 10 cabinet-hardware options costing $100 – $5,000. Countertops? There might be another 20 of these available to you (most at some additional price). Same for flooring. And you will want to select a paint color that ties everything together.

Of course, not everyone is a designer. But if you buy a new construction home, you are necessarily forced into this. The developers have design staff to help you, but ultimately, this is your home and it should reflect you. Jason and Justin find the design activity fascinating and can help you with this activity. Because we will get to know you though the buying process, and because we’ve been listening to your needs, wants, desires, and goals, as well as your limitations, we’re well positioned to bring discipline to your design process.

A note of caution here: when you look at a developer’s model homes, those homes have been professionally designed. Some developers use designers who try to create a sense of what the house would be like to live in. Others try to create the ‘aspirational home.’ And still others try to show off the full design capacity of their floorplans. This means developers tend to put 25-100% of a home’s base-price into design upgrades. The home you are having them build for you will not look like that – it is not a financially viable outcome.

Most developers will tell you, “plan to spend another 20% on design options.” From our experience, if you’re careful and creative, you should plan 10-15% for design options. You can certainly spend more, but if you’re headed over 35%, you need to think seriously about the long-term resale value of your selections. On the other side, you can get close to 0%, but you’re ultimately not going to feel an entirely ‘base house’ is “yours.” You are investing a great deal of yourself into this transaction, and you want your home to feel like it’s yours. You will want to engage in the design process, butyou need to recognize that focus and discipline are really critical.