New Construction Pricing for Upgrades – BY THE BALLS

by Darwin on September 28, 2010

No, our house is much smaller. Just sayin'

For anyone that’s been following my tweets and recent posts, we’d decided to move some time back to get into a larger home, get a larger yard and most importantly, a better school district.  Where we’re at now is fine and if we never moved I think our kids would still have a great childhood.  However, in looking at the opportunities elsewhere and our finances, we opted to take the plunge.  So, we agreed to settle on the sale of our home and now we’re working toward our future home. We are likely doing new construction.  We have no prior experience in the arena and we’ve heard the stories about late deliveries, nickel and diming for every little thing and other problems, but we’ve identified a reputable local builder who’s been in business for 40 years and we’ve asked a ton of questions.  What I couldn’t help but question (and do a post on) is the pricing for many of the things I just took for granted as being “normal” home amenities.  When you buy an existing home, many of these items are already there and you wouldn’t even know that the preceding homeowner actually had to pay extra money.  Examples include running a water line to a fridge and a gas line to a dryer in the washroom.  I had just figured if a house had natural gas that there’d be a gas line running to the wash room.  Nope, that’s extra.

Here’s a list of some new construction upgrades pricing I found interesting (we’re NOT doing most of these):

  • $750 per extra window (gotta think about this and perhaps negotiate down-probably $300 windows!)
  • $6400 for stone on front of house and along garage bottom (side-facing)
  • $3500 for stone over mantel (Hmm, don’t need it that bad)
  • $75 to run wire to center of each room for fan (estimated)
  • $375 to run gas line to dryer (I thought this was just…”there”.  Guess not)
  • $1300 for 2 garage door openers and keypad **(see below on what Sears charges!)
  • $23000 for a 3rd garage (I’ll buy a shed for $600)

It’s evident to me that I could do some of this stuff myself cheaper or pay a contractor to do for less money if they were in there during the build, but where they get you is that they’re already in there before the drywall’s up, the carpets are in and all that stuff.  So, I can always go run a wire to the center of the room for a fan, but depending on which room and how the access is, that might be a huge headache including cutting through drywall, repainting, etc.  So, do you pay an electrician $75 up front to do what is essentially a $5 job before the drywall is up or do you pay $150 later to get it done and fix the mess?

How to Save on New Construction Options

Essentially, I’m breaking the upgrades we want into various categories, but primarily: 1) Structural upgrades that I can’t easily do later and 2) Easier to do upgrades or deferred activities.  While it will still make sense to pay them to do some items in bucket 2, I’m not going to pay later to add a sunroom on.  That’s a major contractor job and will introduce more cost and headaches later on.  However, do I need to pay $1300 for the garage door openers and keypad now?  I just got a quote from Sears for a full job at about $700.  While the $600 difference is small in the context of the full home price, that’s still $600!!!  I’ll let them turn over a door I have to open by hand and have Sears pop out the day we move in!  I also plan on pitching a bundled deal where I say, “Look, I’m looking to upgrade x,y,z but I can only pay say, 75% of the listed price – I know there are economies of scale here and I could do many of these after the build for about that cost but I’ll give you the revenue instead”.  As supporting justification, I will cite how I just had to take a hit on my home as well and cite concerns that at the prices listed, my new home won’t even appraise.  I will also cite other local builder incentives as there are a few other developments in the area.

Make sure to Stay Tuned to see how we do with negotiating the pricing down and how the build goes.  Maybe you’ll want to do new construction in the future…or maybe after following this saga, you won’t!

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