10 New Home Upgrades To Consider Before You Build

Well, here we go again, week 5 in my real estate series.  If you haven’t had the chance yet to read the other article in the series I highly recommend you do.

I know I’ve been getting a few comments on how helpful they’ve been for others and I’m glad it’s helping.

I know there have been many times where I wish I had the info I know now because it could have helped me save just that much more.

So check out the first 4 weeks in the series below

So in this week’s article, I’m going to take it a step further on the building process and talk about new home upgrades to consider.

When it comes down to its upgrades are the special little things that you can do to your house to make it more of your own.  Some of these things will be more seen and some will be hidden but very helpful.

Here are some of the ones I’ve made.

#1 Get A Bigger Garage

One of the first things that were suggested to me by a family member was to increase the size of my garage.  At first, I was kind of against this because the garage was a full 2-car garage plus it also had an extra 9-foot by 9-foot nook in it.

However, when I started considering all the extra stuff I had from tools to the kid’s toys I decided to look into it a little further.

When it came down to it, adding an extra 6-foot extension onto the garage was only going to cost around another $4500, which I thought was very reasonable considering to add an entire 3rd car garage was going to run around $11,000.

#2 Get A Bigger Garage Door

Second I suggest getting a bigger garage door.  This is actually one upgrade that I didn’t do but kind of wished I did.  Currently, our garage door is 16 feet wide, which is fine if you have smaller vehicles.

In my case, I drive a truck and my wife drives an SUV, neither of which vehicles are very small.  If we had two cars or even a car and a minivan this would be a totally different story.

My suggestion is to go with an 18-foot door or two separate opening doors this way you will have more room to open your car doors and not hit the vehicle next to you. If you don’t have enough space at the front for a wider door, consider converting to one of those side loaded garages to fit the door lengthways if you have the space for it.

#3 Protect Your Electric Lines

The next new house upgrade that I did was put conduit on my electric lines.  This might seem kind of odd but in most cases, electric lines will be buried in your yard and run from the street and hook up to a meter on your house.

So when you’re building your house you basically have two options when installing your electric lines.

The first is to do what is called a direct burial.  This is where they trench a hole through your lot and the electric company comes and buries the line with no cover to protect the lines.

The second option is to trench the hole and put the conduit down, which is basically a plastic tube, that will protect the electric lines from the natural elements.

On top of that if the lines would ever happen to go bad they won’t have to rip up your yard to install the new ones because all they have to do is slide the new lines through the tube and it’s done.

#4 Get A Basement

The next thing I suggest is that you get a basement.  The thing I like about basements is that they give you all kinds of extra space for storage to living space. My house has a full basement which isn’t even included in the 2150 square feet of my house.

On top of that down the road, we plan to fix up the basement as an extra place for the kids to play and to put an office down there.

Finally, the majority of the basement will be used for storage for things like the kid’s clothes to the Christmas Tree.

#5 Consider A Fire Escape Window

Now if you are considering a basement there is defiantly one upgrade that you must consider that is well worth the money and that is to have a fire escape window.

The one thing that scares me more than anything is that there is only one way out of that basement if there would happen to be a fire and if that way is blocked there is nothing they could do about it.

I would hate to think that my kids, wife, or anybody else’s life could have been saved only if I would have spent the money on a fire escape window.  I don’t think that is a burden anyone would want to carry and it was only an extra $300.

With all the things to be cheap about when building your house, this is defiantly not one of them.

#6 Full Or Wrap Around Porch

Now one of the best home upgrades I added was a wrap-around porch.  This is probably the one thing I splurged on when building my house and with good reason too.

I like wrap-around porches because there’s nothing better than kicking back outside on a nice spring day with a light breeze hitting your face, sipping on a cold beer, and watching a thunderstorm roll in.  At least for me.

On the other hand, I also feel a porch can really tell a lot about someone.  I feel a more open porch such as a wrap-around feels more inviting,  open, and friendly, while smaller and in some cases hidden porches feel less inviting and closed off.

I’m not saying one is right or wrong but that’s just the impression I get.

#7 Extra Lighting

Another one of the best home upgrades for the money is to add custom lighting.

I know I talked about this in previous articles but you’ll defiantly be thankful when you have those extra lights in your closets and hard-to-see places.

On top of that, I also added extra can lights on my wrap-around porch, because what’s the use of sitting on a porch when you can see anybody.

In the end, it cost me an extra $1100 in lights, switches, and outlets but it defiantly will be worth it.

#8 Keypad Entree

Number eight on the list is a keypad entree.  I’ve never had one of these until I moved into my rental house and I can tell you it has been very helpful to have.

In my old house, I got locked out a few times with no way in and had to climb in through a window which the neighbors got a good chuckle out of.

However, with a keypad entree, I won’t have to worry about that issue anymore.

#9 Improve Your Garage

Next on the list for new home upgrade tips is to insulate, drywall, and paint the garage.  At first, I was kind of against this idea but once I saw the final coat of paint I knew I had made the right decision.   The reason I liked it so much was that I could heat the garage just like any other room in the house.

The benefit to that is if I plan to have a bigger party it will give me the extra space I need.  In fact, my garage is big enough that I could have family parties, to my kid’s graduation parties in there.

On top of that if I would have to work on something in there in the dead of winter I could heat it so I wouldn’t have to work out in the cold weather.

#10  Get More Storage Space

Finally, the last of the new house upgrades is to have walk-in closets.  One of the things we liked so much about our house plans was the fact that nearly every bedroom had a walk-in closet except for one.

On top of that, we also have a pantry in the kitchen which will defiantly help for storing everything from flour and sugar to mixers and blenders.

However, the need for more closet space didn’t really become a concern until we bought our first house and realized we didn’t have hardly any room to store stuff.

On top of that, we also added extra storage racks to stack stuff upon which would allow us to hang most of our clothes and not have to have them laying on piles in our bedroom.

What New Home Upgrades Are You Considering?

In the end, I feel the best way to know what kind of upgrades you really want is to buy a house before you build one.

This way you can see where you might be falling short on something like extra closet space or things that would be nice to have such as a wrap-around porch.

So what kind of new house upgrades are you considering?

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20 Comments

  1. #10 is especially important and a potential problem you won’t realize you have until you run out of space to store things! We ran into that with our kitchen when we first bought the house we live in. It took a major kitchen (DIY) renovation to fix that problem. We tripled our kitchen storage and almost doubled the counter space, making it a far more user friendly kitchen then what we started with. I would add an 11th consideration. Geo-Thermal heating. The ROI’s for Geo-Thermal are pretty ugly but are considerably better for a new house just being built. The long term cost savings are significant. It’s definitely something that should be evaluated if you can fit it into your budget.

  2. That would be awesome to have a wrap around porch on the second floor Michelle. I like the idea of a wrap around, it just has that relaxing feel to it. That and I love being outdoors and not trapped in the house all the time. I guess it’s kind of like my little escape from home while still being at home, if that makes any kind of sense.

  3. That’s a good point Jose. We considered Geo-Thermal but we were already extremely tight on our budget and I could forgo the $20,000 to $30,000 cost. On the other hand I did consider a heat pump which only ran an extra $1500 or so to add in but the thing I didn’t like about that was my air conditioner would have to run all the time cutting it’s life expectancy in half. In the end we went with natural gas hookup. We actually only paid around $40 a month for it in our old house and it shouldn’t be that bad in our new house, at least I’m hoping. Thanks for stopping by Jose.

  4. That’s another great point as well John. I think anyone who wants to build a house should just buy one first to get an idea of what they would and wouldn’t like to have on their next house. One thing we liked at our old house was the yard space. The lot was a decent size but not so big that we had to spend hours every week in the summer maintaining it. So when we were looking for a lot we found something relatively the same size if not a hair bigger than our previous house.

  5. “Protecting Electrical Lines” is one of the first things I learned as a homeowner. I never paid attention to that when I rented. When I was house shopping I brought a GC friend and he educated me on the right and wrong ways of running electrical lines. Sure glad he spotted the wrong ones for me.

  6. Putting conduit over my electric lines was probably the best advice I received and really it didn’t cost that much extra and it can save a lot of hassle down the road. Thanks for the comment John.

  7. One thing I did when I built my last house was run Cat 5 for data, cat 6 vor the telephones and coax to every room in the house, ran it all back to the garage and build a mini distribution panel there. Did I tell you I was a DYI kind of guy?

  8. HA HA, Sounds like you really know your stuff Jose. I think we ran Cat 5 to four different rooms because that came with the cost of the house and we ran Cat 4 in the bedroom and kitchen. That’s pretty cool that you were able to run it all back to the garage, I think mine all hooks in the basement.

  9. 34 years in IT does that to you. I asked the builder to give me the house for two days and did all the low voltage wiring myself. i even ran wiring for a complete alarm system. Every window and door has one or more alarm points. Lol, I can get a bit carried away at times. When I post an article on by backyard pond project you’ll see what I mean.

  10. That’s freaking awesome man. They also did the same thing with my smoke alarms, they hardwired them in and they also have a battery backup, which is awesome. I didn’t even know my contractor was doing that. Thanks for your comments Jose.

  11. We do have a wrap around porch and it is awesome. I can’t stress enough about you should have a big garage. We though ours was huge when we moved but all the bikes and kid toys and gear seem to crowd it up. Build way more than you think you’ll need. Not very minimalist, but you can’t have enough storage. I also hate when people don’t finish the garage. We took a while to paint ours, but it is the first thing I see when we come home, so I like to to look complete.

  12. Great tips, Chris. The porch sounds absolutely beautiful! I would caution those considering building to think seriously about a 3 car-garage for resale purposes though. In our old neighborhood, a 2-car garage would often make buyers cross that house off the list immediately. Does your larger garage fit 3 cars? It sounds like it could.

  13. I can’t agree more on having a big garage Kim, that was one upgrade that defiantly needed to be done and it wasn’t that costly either. It’s always cheaper to make upgrades while your building rather than after the fact. I also like the fact that it’s finished out. It only cost me an extra $150 bucks for the painter to put a coat of paint on it which was going to cost me most of that just in paint if I were to do it myself.

  14. I could defiantly fit 3 cars in the garage if I wanted but I probably won’t since I’ll need it to handle the kids stuff and I also want to put a small work bench out there at some point as well. As for the porch it’s awesome. I took a lot of pictures and plan to put a bunch of those up at some point and even do a short video walk through at some point. Thanks for the comment Laurie.

  15. Storage will definitely be a great selling point when you want to move out. I like the basement too since it allows to take tenants in for extra income, or put a laundry room away from the main living area/kitchen

  16. That’s a great point Pauline, most of the houses in my area don’t have a lot of storage in them so if I would ever plan to sell my house I will defiantly have a hand up on a lot of the other houses.

    As for the laundry we have a separate room on the main floor for that which makes it kind of nice. In my old house it was in our basement which meant a lot of climbing up and down stairs, and with this we will eliminate most of that.

  17. We just bought our house and we are very happy with it. We added a kitchen downstairs for the suite, and now we’re just going to be adding some wainscoting here and there. The bathroom needs a fresh coat of paint and some shelving, and the closets need doors (random, I know) but other than that we love it. Eventually we may have to add these things though.

  18. Hi Daisy thanks for stopping by, I really appreciate it. Extra shelving is really nice to have for your closets, with our new house we had them install extra shelving all over the house and it’s going to be really nice to have.

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