If you want your custom home to hold its value, there are certain aspects of your home you’ll want to pay close attention to.
Q: I’m thinking about building a custom home because they offer more options. But what areas of the home will give me the best return on investment?
A: You’ve hit on one of the biggest advantages of building a custom home as opposed to buying a standard “tract” home. Custom homes are designed and built to the specific wishes of the homeowner. And because your family’s personality is unique, your home won’t look like anyone else’s.
If you want your home to hold its value, however, there are certain aspects of your home you’ll want to pay close attention to; they will pay the highest dividends — both in your enjoyment of your new home and in future resale value.
In general terms, here are a few key places where it pays to spend more on your home.
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Location. Where you build really does matter. We’re talking about more than just picking a place that has great views. What’s traffic like in the area? Are schools a concern? How is the commute to work? Having a desirable lot can make a big difference when it’s time to sell. And don’t forget that a lot that is difficult to build on (because of drainage problems or unsuitable soil, for example) will likely sell for less. In the long run, that’s no bargain. You may well end up spending more to prepare the lot for construction, so choose carefully.
Good design. The design of your home drives everything. Skimping on design services (both architectural and interior design) may save you a bit up front, but you’ll pay for it by ending up with a home that’s less comfortable and convenient to live in.
Room size. It can be tempting to shave a few dollars off the building costs by settling for rooms that aren’t as big as you’d like, but that would be a mistake. It’s much less expensive to build slightly larger rooms up front than it is to come back and try to add space later. You don’t have to overdo it, but allow yourself plenty of space in your rooms.
Storage space. In our 107 years of homebuilding, we’ve never had anyone complain that they have too much storage space. So when you’re planning your bedrooms and hallways, make sure you make the closets big enough to accommodate what you’ll need down the road. And don’t forget about the laundry room when you plan. It’s better to make it bigger than you think you need because you will use that space.
Your kitchen. This may well be the most important room in your home. Everything seems to revolve around the kitchen — whether it’s food prep, homework, family meetings or entertaining. Make sure your kitchen is large enough (and well designed) to accommodate all activities that will happen in this space. And don’t skimp on counter space, counter material or cabinets. These are things you’ll use every day. Good quality delivers better value.
You may have noticed the absence of “luxury” items in this (partial) list. It’s not that high-end fixtures and extras aren’t nice, but those things don’t hold their value as much as these basics. Spend your money on functionality, quality and overall comfort.
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.