Alfresco with fireplace-min

Project Home Upgrades


Upgrades to your project home.  How does one decide?  As a new homeowner you begin your new home build with a set budget. As the planning continues the your eyes grow larger and larger as you see all the goodies on offer and begin to visualise them all in their architectural marvel.

Before you know it, the budget has blown and instead of showing off your award-winning masterpiece you will be working overtime to pay it off!

Imagine a Christmas with 50 presents under the tree. The children wake up all excited wondering which present is for them and what it could possibly be.

Mum and Dad yawn as they wake up; sit down by the tree and say, “We couldn’t decide what to get you. You can open all of these presents but you can only keep one because that is all we could afford.”

Hey, mum and dad, that’s not very nice.

Building a house can be like that Christmas tree.

Project Homes

People often choose to build a project home because they are able to have a brand new home with a floor plan that suits their needs; however, project homes utilise economies of scale to deliver budget savings. Builders can offer competitive packages that include a limited range of fittings and products through selected suppliers to suit a large group of people. The fit out usually incorporates most internal inclusions and some external, depending on the package.

Each project home builder will have a package to reflect the quality of the final finish and will have a selection of materials, designs and products within that range to meet customer expectations. Thus, each new homeowner will have to choose within a limited range to meet the price point of the original contract.

While this may sound limiting, the builder will offer a selection of contemporary products that will appeal to a wide selection of tastes, colour choices and designs.  If new homeowners have budgetary concerns at the start of the project they will have to be disciplined to choose what is offered in their chosen package to be able to meet the mortgage repayments at the end of the project.

Show Home – “As displayed”

Just like a jeweller is going to place the most alluring and tantalising pieces in the front display window, a builder will only use the best upgrades in the display home. The builder’s aim is to show the best work he can do to sell his skills as a craftsman and designer.

When making a final decision about selecting a final home design the new homeowners have to be aware that they are not lured in by the upgrades in the show home. After all, it is not the oven, driveway or tiles they are buying but the quality of craftsmanship, materials and design that the builder has to offer.

Caveat emptor

You have been warned in Latin to make it sound more serious, now you have been reminded in English – let the buyer beware. When you sign up for a project home there are many decisions that need to be made and agreed to and committed to writing in the contract. You, as the buyer, need to read the contract carefully and be aware of the details and ensure that your expectations, including any upgrades, will be met.  

There is no payback for the buyer who is unaware of what is written in the contract they have signed. Thus, it is the new homeowner’s responsibility to ensure all the new home details and upgrades are included in the first legal document so that if there are any future problems it can be resolved within a legal framework.

Depending on the project builder, the new homeowner should have the opportunity to have a site inspection during the build. It is advisable to take this opportunity to gain the full building buzz and to feel satisfied that work is progressing according to the planned schedule with the materials that have been chosen for the build.

To upgrade or not to upgrade

It feels like a new home must be a statement and a definitive nod to the style and taste of the owner. Each colour choice, each fitting and each upgrade chosen will forever stain or mark the homeowner as a person of substance or mediocrity. It is hard to make rational and economical choices under that pressure.

And yet, once you have moved in with your own furniture, pictures, kids, pets and plants other things start to become important. The quality of the coffee and conversation can more than compensate for a bizarre tap choice in the kitchen.

The accepted advice is to consider a new home like an investment and only upgrade on pieces that will add value to the house or make it more durable. It takes the romance and excitement out of the upgrade process, but reigns in the process and keeps you focused on sensible, rather than eye-catching, items.

A new house is still a home and you should only be drawn to exceptional pieces that particular appeal to your personality or sense of style and will bring you a sense of joy on a daily basis for years to come. Not every piece will be included in this category and will vary from person to person, but some items like bench tops, flooring and lighting have general appeal and will add vitality and personality to a home.

The Great outdoors

Alfresco dining isn’t an add on, it’s a lifestyle. It means soaking up the sun and the atmosphere while overlooking a pool, garden or children’s playing area, and it has become the eating and relaxation hot spot for many homeowners.

The new homeowner who plans to enjoy the great outdoors for living, entertaining and relaxation should take into account the quality of the external doors, paving, retaining walls, shading and any built in barbecue and eating area.

It makes sense to make use of this space and it makes sense that your new home will have invested as much attention to detail on alfresco dining as the internal dining area, and to the external utilities area as the internal utility area and the external relaxation area as the internal lounge area.

A project home package needs to pay the same level of detail to the external area as the internal area to create a harmonious and flowing house.

Check out our articles about upgrading and what upgrades to consider, including the top 7 must do upgrades.

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