By Julia Reinert
Whether you are building a new construction home or renovating your current home, the design process can be both exciting and overwhelming. It is important to include features in your home which represent your personal style but many homeowners also consider what is going to appeal to others should they decide to sell in the future. Budget constraints, ease and convenience, life stages – all of these things factor into which options or upgrades you should include in your home, be it with your builder or even as a DIY project.
For example, a first-time homebuyer may be more price-sensitive and choose upgrades which they know will boost the value of their home in a few short years while an empty-nester will not want to sacrifice their personal taste or comfort. They will instead feel more comfortable to spend money and make this “forever home” what they need in terms of functionality and aesthetics. We spoke with two local design experts, each with 20+ years of experience, who shared their insights as to the top 10 value of home upgrades and where best to devote your attention and dollars!
Space is definitely the final frontier
You can never go wrong with more square footage! When looking to improve on or build your home, always look for room to grow or spread out. Are there enough closets, bedrooms, and recreational/bonus areas? Small jut outs for drop zones and mudrooms have become increasingly popular as they provide space for everyday needs (bags, tools, sporting equipment, shoes, etc.)
Flex space is also a more recent ideology to entertain our many hobbies and interests, from reading nooks and exercise areas to craft rooms and man caves. Additionally, multi-family dwelling is now more a part of our culture than ever and is something to be considered when wanting to add value to your home. This concept involves a variety of floor plan must-haves and possible upgrades such as in-law suites, first-floor masters, walk-in showers, and comfort height toilets.
It is no secret that the kitchen remains the heart of the home and the room most likely to add value. “Cabinets especially are expensive and complicated to change out later,” explains Ryne Page, Design Center Manager for CalAtlantic Homes, Raleigh Division. “When you upgrade through the builder, you are only paying the difference between the standard cabinets and your upgrade selection.” Page goes on to further encourage buyers to take advantage of options such as trashcan pullouts, decorative panels, Lazy Susans, and other accessories to personalize.
“Kitchen upgrades are always important to our buyers,” said Deanna Stanley, Senior Design Studio Manager, Toll Brothers Raleigh Division. “They look for appliances that fit their food-prep style, along with what is necessary for hosting and entertaining family and friends. Aesthetic kitchen upgrades are equally important. Buyers are looking for finishes that reflect both their personal style and current trends. Cabinet layout modifications, such as enlarging islands and adding storage features, further personalize kitchens by addressing the flow and usability of the space.”
Hardwoods are not a hard choice
Whether site-built, hand-stained, or engineered, there is no denying the beauty of hardwoods as well as the health and cleanliness benefits with regards to allergens and dust. “Hardwoods tend to be very desirable in most areas of the home,” said Stanley. “Using hardwoods throughout the interior is not only warm and welcoming, but it also provides a flow throughout the design and is a popular option for buyers concerned with cleanliness and allergies.”
Let there be light
Page relays that she has never had a buyer say that they added too many lights. “It is more difficult and can be messy to add additional lights later on down the road,” she confirms. “If these are a budget buster, take advantage of prewire options. These are usually a lot less expensive and give more flexibility down the road. I always add pendant prewires over islands and ceiling fan prewires everywhere!”
Stanley agrees that lighting is key when it comes to adding value to your home. “Additional electrical features such as under-cabinet lighting and additional recessed lights are not only functional for illuminating the space, but they also accentuate finishes and furniture,” she said. “Light fixtures are probably the items that are most often changed after the buyer has had a chance to settle into their home. There are so many styles and options of light fixtures available, and trends are always changing. Often, people want to move-in and find just the right pieces after they have purchased their furniture and have decorated their new home.”
Low voltage investments
“With advancements in technology, this part of the design process has gotten more attention than ever,” says Page. “Smart home technology, video, audio and internet access are important factors to consider when constructing a new home. This is another area where you can take advantage of prewires or conduit to give you some flexibility with advancements in technology in the years to come.”
“Technology options are very trendy right now. Adding state-of-the-art entertainment features like surround sound, home theatres, and security features are a “must” for many buyers,” declares Stanley. “Other buyers are less concerned with entertainment options, and are more concerned with security features such as security cameras, automated home entry systems, and various other security options.”
While more public spaces, like kitchens, may be chosen around how others will use the space, the master bathroom is typically selected solely based on the buyer’s taste. Aesthetic features such as faucet selection, tile and cabinet colors in the master bath tend to be more directly tied to the desires of the buyer,” said Stanley. She adds that “Further personalization through performance showering packages, freestanding tubs, and decorative lighting options tend to reflect both the personal style of the buyer and current trends, where the buyer can add a luxurious touch to a functional space.”
Countertops are the tops
With plenty of materials to choose from such as quartz, granite, marble, etc. these decorative showstoppers add more than just aesthetics. Beautiful, quality countertops in your kitchen and bathrooms can add value to your home and blow away the competition in a resale situation.
Green is the way to go
The bottom line is that building a high-performance home can save you money on your monthly utility bills (money that you can put towards your mortgage payment!) and is also better for the comfort and health of your family. “Opting for energy-efficient items such as a tankless water heater or energy-efficient appliances can definitely help reduce your utility bills down the road and is attractive to resale buyers,” says Page.
From expanded refrigerators and quiet dishwashers, appliances can just make your life easier. “While this might not add value in the traditional sense of an appraisal, luxury appliances have a perceived value in resale,” confirms Page.
High-end closet systems
According to Stanley, “High-end closet systems are a luxurious touch that is both functional and indulgent. Even a pantry can be filled with visually-appealing shelving systems that promote organization without looking utilitarian.”