Thursday, March 21, 2013

You picked your LOT and HOUSE, WHAT NOW?

Tips on picking OPTIONS and UPGRADES
(note: this is a multi-page post)

So you have decided on your dream house and picked out your land/lot, whats next?  Time to spend more money that's what, but you can do so wisely.  Many of the options and upgrades from the builder are priced by either crazy lunatics or very very greedy people ( I think it's both).

I can tell you now that you'll not be able to get everything you want unless you are super rich.  You will have to make hard decisions based on your family's needs vs wants.  The reason we went with a new construction home vs an existing built home is to be able to customize our home but RH makes it a little difficult.  Everything is at a high premium and you'll have to make a sacrifice or two at some point.

I think Options/Upgrades are  the biggest money maker for home builders.  They'll lure buyers in with great promotions; free this, free that, this much % off, etc.... Just remember nothing is FREE.  The GOOD thing about options/upgrades are just that, OPTIONAL.  The BAD thing is, some options/upgrades (structural) you have to get it now during construction.

Many of the tips here are from reading other peoples blogs, forums and some of my own.

Note about BUDGET
Plan your purchase with a soft budget so you are not stretched too thin but have room to up it a bit to accommodate surprises or must-have features that you didn't think of.  If your start with a firm hard budget then you have no room to expand and you will stress yourself out.

Lets start....

ELEVATION - The exterior characteristics of your house, the interior layout is the same.

The first option you MUST pick is an ELEVATION for your new house.  Elevation can be very expensive depending on the material (vinyl, brick, stone), coverage (front, sides, back, all) and porch (none, half, full).
This is the only option that will give you FREE extra sq. footage via bump-out (usually front bump-out). Most buyers will pick the elevation with the most sq. footage.  During your lot selection, it is important to ask your SR what house model and elevation is next to that lot (in all directions) because if the same house and elevation had been picked then yours can not be the same. 

Being a first time new built home buyer, I made this mistake and ended up with my 2nd choice Elevation. We like the lot location so we sacrificed our 1st choice elevation.  It is to your advantage if you are one of the earlier buyers to a new community or at least to that street.

What we picked: 
-Elevation C 
-Brick veneer front (anything veneer is not as good as the real brick +$12200) 
-Half porch w/ porch metal roof (metal roof is required!!! +$750!!!)
-Side loading garage (no choice) due to our lot location but had  to pay $6500 extra.  No happy about it but nothing we can do since we want that lot.  If we had a choice, I would save the $6500 and get the front loading garage.  I prefer front loading garage over side loading.  It's more convenient and the drive way can provide more parking space.

From the budget point of view, it's not looking good.  We are now already adding $20,000 to our base price and we have not even entered the house yet.

If your lot happens to be a true-corner (front and side facing street) then you are required to pay a premium ($7000+ ? )for the lot.  On top of that, you are also required to pay for brick siding  (an $18,000 option). Luckily our lot does not fall into that category.

There is really not much to it.   Only a few available selections for the exterior and they are further limited by what options buyers before you have already selected.  You have to be the 1st one to guaranteed your selection since it can not be the same as your neighbor's.

Next post, I'll talk about the kitchen and others.  BTW, we are still waiting on the building permit to start constructions.  It's been 78 days and counting since purchase agreement signed and 10% down.



  1. I think all builders make money on their options. We didn't get a RH but ours was pretty much the same as what your saying.

  2. Replies
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    2. Read this post about RH filing claim for their rebates....
      this is crazy...

  3. We definitely chose our elevation based on the extra sq ft you get with the bump out (added 40 sqft). Thankfully our neighborhood/lot base price already included elevation B for our model, so we started with $$$ to use as a credit if we wanted to change the elevation. I know for any walkout lots they force you to pay for the walkout. I don't know why you wouldn't want one if you wanted that lot, but just another forced expense on the buyer.

    A local builder we spoke with charged a lot premium and required the side load, but it wasn't a double charge per se. The $10K premium for the lot included the side load garage (the lot was 1/3 acre compared to 1/4 for the other lots).

    If you read posts by bloggers building in Charles County, I think their county requires builders to give all optional windows as a standard. This saves them the extra $500/window.

  4. In our neighborhood, elevation B with siding was "free". As in it came with a credit. I really wanted to upgrade to the stone but there were things I wanted inside my house more. I knew I would enjoy my stone fireplace more than stone on the exterior :)
    It's a hard process and almost never can you get everything you want so it takes sacrifice. I would be bummed if they forced me into a particular elevation, especially if it cost more, because I was one of the later lots and the other elevations were already taken. The flip side is that it will be a nice looking neighborhood with lots of diversity. I just wish they would make the elevations in the purchase price and not an extra fee.