When it comes to building your dream home, there are some places where you simply don’t want to skimp.
Q: What’s the line between being savvy and stingy when building a new home?
A: Everybody talks about the fact that your home is generally the single largest private investment you’ll ever make. So if you’re planning to build a new home, you know you’re going to spend some money. In spite of that, homeowners are sometimes tempted to try to save a few bucks during the process.
That’s understandable. After all, nobody wants to pay more than they really should. But when it comes to building your dream home, there are some places where you simply don’t want to skimp.
Let’s look at five corners you never want to cut when building your new home.
1. Your location
We’ve all heard the location, location, location mantra of real estate professionals. The thing is, those folks are right. The piece of property you build on makes up a considerable portion of your home’s cost. But the price of the lot is just the tip of the iceberg.
Your lot plays a huge role in your enjoyment of your home. There are obvious advantages to a good lot — such as great views and convenience to schools, shopping and work. But you’ll also need to consider access to utilities (water, sewage, electric, etc.). A cheap lot doesn’t save you money if you have to pay extra to access those things.
And the lot’s suitability for building is another big factor. If your builder has to do a lot of extra prep work to put in the foundation, those costs will eat up any savings you may have thought you were getting.
2. Your design
Some homeowners try to save a few bucks by purchasing a cheap floor plan or home design. The fact is that you can actually download some plans for free. But this is really one of those situations in which you get what you pay for.
Everything in your home depends on the design. Having a great design ensures you’ll get a home that fits your needs and tastes. And if you have the same company creating the design and building the home, you can avoid any finger pointing. The builder and designer are on the same team.
3. Your kitchen
The family kitchen is arguably the most-used room in the home. It’s both a “working” room (for food preparation) and a social center for everything from stand-up meals to homework to entertaining guests. In all the years that we’ve been building homes, we’ve never had someone complain that their kitchen was too large or too well designed.
4. Your family room
Once again, this is a room that will see a lot of use. Resist the temptation to cut the size of your family room. It doesn’t have to be cavernous, but you’ll want to make sure that there’s plenty of space for all the activities your family may do here.
And if you have smaller children, keep in mind that they’ll grow. A small family room may be fine when they’re toddlers, but when they’re teens — and bring friends over — you’ll want more space. It will cost you a lot less to build it slightly bigger now than if you decide you need to add space later.
5. Your storage space
Even though storage space is one of the last things many new homeowners think of, it’s one of the first things they notice when there isn’t enough. Plan plenty of space for walk-in closets (at least in the master bedroom), linen closets and even hidden storage space. A major trend in kitchen design is to take advantage of hidden or wasted space for storage. But you may want to talk to your builder about using space under stairs for extra storage.
There’s no benefit in paying more for a new home than you should, but there are places where you simply shouldn’t cut corners because you won’t get the home you really want — and you might actually pay more than you thought in the long run.
Brooks Powell is the general manager of Powell Homes and Renovations and a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the MBA’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.