Be Picky About Your Upgrades
Our philosophy on upgrades was to add the things that are nearly impossible to change later on. Builder upgrades tend to be a lot more expensive than paying contractors after the fact, so wise choices at this stage could easily save you tens of thousands of dollars.
For instance, we upgraded to 9 foot ceilings on the main floor and an Oak Staircase, since you can’t change the ceiling height later, and Oak Stairs are a major expense.
We upgraded the flooring through much of the main floor to tile because the floor framing is actually different depending on what flooring materials you choose. Properly done, a tile floor should have floor joists on 12″ centers rather than standard 16″ centers.
We added a gas fireplace in the Master Suite since running a gas line and venting through the roof after construction is complete would be almost impossible. The Gas Fireplace in the living room could have been done later, but it was easier to have it all done at once. We also added wall sconces at the sides of each fireplace since wiring them later is a lot harder than doing it when the walls are open.
We added a pantry and computer desk as part of the kitchen / eating area so that the oak cabinets all matched the kitchen.
And we added a floor drain in the main floor laundry room in case there is ever a washing machine flood.
Finally, we put in a Jacuzzi corner tub in the master bath because you couldn’t physically get it in the house as part of a later renovation.
All other upgrades were not done through the builder because I am a handy guy and can do most of it myself at a later date. For example, we left the builder grade carpets and underlay because we have two small kids. We figured in 5 to 7 years the carpet will be due for replacement and at that time we’ll put in hardwood that matches closely to the Oak Stairs.