A few weeks ago I wrote a post called the 37 Builder Upgrades You SHOULD Do. Today I am going to share 13 Builder Upgrades You SHOULDN’T Do. Most of these are things that are easy DIY’s, don’t save you money in the long run, or are better personalized on your own.
When your builder asks if you want the following tell them you Don’t want:
- Accent paint-I have done a lot of painting in my time, and now I can plan on about one day to prep, paint, and clean up an entire room. It usually costs under $100 and can completely change the feel of a space. Check out my favorite wall mural HERE.
- Drawer pulls-Usually a builder has a limited selection of drawer pulls or cabinet door knobs. Don’t rush, check out retailers like Home Depot (especially their Martha Stewart special orders), Lowe’s, Restoration Hardware, and Pottery Barn. They may be less expensive than the builder’s basics and add a lot of character and style that your neighbors won’t have. Plus, they are a simple DIY. Check out these awesome drawer pulls from Anthropologie, and my classic pulls HERE, and vintage style Pottery Barn HERE.
- Carpet-This one might be controversial, but, I think most carpet is gross after a couple of years. I “upgraded” our family room carpet and it is still garbage. I hate it. The cheap berber that I put in all of the bedrooms is my favorite. It has held up great, cleans great, doesn’t show vacuum marks (so no one knows if I just vacuumed or if it’s been a while), it cleans up like new after a carpet cleaning service comes to visit, and didn’t cost me a fortune. As for the family room, I wish I had just done wood from the beginning. Check out my family room carpet (from afar) here and my cheap berber in my nursery HERE.
- Louvered blinds-These can be very very very expensive. While I have one in my entry and love it, I don’t think that they are necessarily perfect for an entire house. Unless you want to open and close them every day they can leave your home feeling dark and dreary. I prefer curtains. They are much less expensive, especially if you make them or purchase them from Ikea. Curtains can add a drama, feeling, texture etc. that blinds can’t. There are a few exceptions like over the side light by my front door where a curtain might be overpowering but for the most part, I’d skip the expense.
- Fancy windows-I used to work as a leaded glass artisan (fancy way of saying I made stained glass windows). I love the look of beveled, leaded, and stained glass and even installed them in the entire front of my French Cottage house. BUT, did you know you can add them at any time? Don’t feel rushed or like you must do it now or else. Sometimes you can even get a better deal if you contact the leaded glass company directly and ask about having them installed after you move in. Check out the amazing stained glass windows in my French Cottage house HERE.
- Painted door-Kind of the same as accent paint, just do it yourself, of course I only recommend this if you have a small paint gun (we have an inexpensive one from Harbor Freight). Do not try hand painting or a spray can or you might have a major mess on your hands. Check out my front door HERE.
- Light fixtures (allowance)-This one is a HUGE one for me. When we were building our current home the builder had put together a lighting package. I found it repulsive! I asked if instead they had an “allowance” we could spend and they said yes! Of course their hideous “package” only cost $1500 so I didn’t have a lot to work with and it all had to be spent at their chosen lighting store. We started by choosing all of the lighting that would be difficult for us to install like under cabinet lighting, exterior flood lights, two story family room ceiling fans etc. Once we burned through the $1500, we asked the builder to cap all of the other fixtures. Then I went shopping. I went to discount centers like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Lamps Plus and even brought an antique crystal chandelier from our old house. I highly recommend this. We installed all of our own fixtures (they really aren’t that difficult) and created a feeling with each spaces lighting. Read about my entry DIY barrel shade chandelier HERE , my favorite antique crystal chandelier HERE, Rewiring CFL’s HERE, turning a can light into a pendant HERE, Star Wars Ceiling light from Ikea lamp HERE.
- Built in cabinets-When I looked at our mud room I realized that I really wanted cabinetry in the form of lockers. My husband promised to build some for me at a later date but instead I found some prefab lockers from the Land Of Nod catalog that would fit great. I purchased them from a local discount store called Down East Home for a fraction of the price. I love that they are moveable. I can re design the space depending on the ages of my children and my needs and it only cost about $300. Check out my mud room and laundry room.
- Tile flooring-Unlike wood flooring, tiling is a pretty simple DIY. The variety of floor tiles at a local home center will be much greater than what a builder will offer (note: check around at different Home Depots. The one closest to me doesn’t have as great of a selection or style as the one about 20 min. away. The Home Depot rep. told me that the designers pick different tiles for each store!).
- Fancy mantle-Once again, picky me did not love any of the mantle options my builder offered me. Instead I asked that they just lay one square foot of tile around the fireplace for code and I would remove them and install my own mantle when I found one that spoke to me. My husband found one that we both love and he installed it himself. I love how huge it is and up on the hearth it weights the room and gives a great focal point when you walk in. Check out a few photos of my mantle HERE, HERE and HERE.
- Tile backsplash-You can do this. A tile backsplash is easier and probably less expensive than you think. Again, like the tile floor, the options in tile for a backsplash are huge. Pick something you love, in my case it was timeless white subway tile. Check it out in my kitchen HERE.
- Delete cheap closet organizers. Our current home came with cheep particle board painted with stationery shelving. We had the builder completely delete all of these “organizers” and then went and purchased our own from Home Depot and Lowe’s. With an Ikea near by now, I could find a great system there as well. I love the melamine (sounds weird to say I love plastic) surface for all of my clothes. I also love the adjustable shelves and smooth rolling drawers that come with these systems. I also asked the painter to paint all of the closets the same color as the bedroom instead of the glossy trim paint. This makes the closet feel like an extension of room rather than a closet (read about my master closet HERE).
- Fancy Light Switches-These are another easy 15 min. project that you can do yourself. Lowe’s and Home Depot have a lot of different options that we have installed including remote light switches for our master bed, timer light switches for our exterior lighting, and dimmer light switches which I have in my master, living room, and dining room.
If you are planning on building or remodeling and find this list overwhelming I can help. I do consulting on house plans. Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set something up. My rates start at $300 for up to 4000 square feet. I will send you a detailed list of suggestions to make your home flow smoothly, easy to decorate, and full of designer touches. And, depending on your builder, I could save you a lot of money! Our builder charged $100 for each change order once the home was under construction.