Top 7 “Must do” upgrades
There’s a school of thought to have all the upgrades you want in your dream house build and then there is the “do it later” mentality. Often it’s dependent on your budget and finances as to which way you will lean. Should you upgrade all the standard selections to what you want or should you appoint a tradesperson later after you have control of the site. Even if it’s years later! One thing we do know is that it’s easier to ensure you have all the structural upgrades you want included in the build. These can be costly upgrades down the track.
Here we have a list of the “must do” upgrades — or at least the must consider upgrades!
The ceiling height of a house can make a huge difference to the feel of a home. The standard in Australia is 2400 mm or 28 c (28 courses of bricks). By increasing the height to 2590/2600 or 31 courses it can make a house feel more airy and spacious. It also helps those who are a bit taller and gives a few more options of light fittings. Keep in mind by increasing the ceiling height you may want to consider increasing door heights to suit.
Installing lights in the appropriate spots will be a painful exercise on the ground floor if you have another floor above. Review exactly where you need to have your lights and have the light fittings installed during the build. Post handover, your electrician will not be pleased if you are still changing your mind.
Are you considering a larger room? Whilst I would never suggest buildiing a house just to create more housework for yourself, a larger room, garage to provide you with a suitable space is worthwhile. When it’s a piece of paper it’s easy to adjust and add a thousand dollars or so to the budget. You don’t want to be one of those people who converts their double garage into a bedroom in the years to come as the rooms you have are too small. One of the biggest wins for us was a longer and wider garage. Makes parking easier and simple to get in and out of the car too.
Wiring, ducting and plumbing
Other than lights mentioned above what about powerpoints or wiring for the smart home. Add the wiring now or the conduits — again especially if you have more than a single level home. One of the major tips is ensuring you have all your outdoor attached-to-house lights provisioned.
If you are thinking about air conditioning but aren’t having it installed at the time of building, consider installing the air conditioning ducting so they are available if you wish to install it down the track. Whilst on the topic of ducting — duct your rangehood to the outside. Unless you don’t use the stovetop to cook ducting air from the kitchen to the outside is a must. Even if it’s to make everyone jealous when you are cooking bacon, garlic or onions!
The other major infrastructure you will want to really consider is plumbing – water and gas. Again it’s especially important if you have more than one floor and are on a concrete slab. It makes plumbing very difficult to add later. A few of the reasons you will need to consider upgrading plumbing include water behind the fridge (some fridges have inbuilt water and ice dispensers), additional taps outdoors and gas points for heating or for an outdoor kitchen or BBQ.
Level flooring or a set down floor
You would think level flooring is included, but what we’re getting at here is the flush floor when transitioning from bathroom to normal floor. As the floor is level when being built by the time tiles are added it is unlikely to be the same height as your finished floor if it’s carpet or other flooring. You can pay extra to make your floors flush but you will need to ensure you know what flooring you are having in advance.
Glazing and windows
No we aren’t talking about glazing chicken for tonight’s dinner but rather the glass or windows and glass doors you are getting for your new home. This is an area that can make a huge difference. The styling of windows and the type of glass is important. Consider double glazing or a film that helps keep the heat out. We put glazing bars on our stacker doors and our front windows to provide a bit of character. Are you opting for sliding windows (the default in most cases) or do you want to opt for casement or awning windows?
Our article about glazing and windows may provide you a good head start when selecting your options.
Another area which is difficult to retrofit is underfloor heating. If you are in an area that needs it or even if you want it just for the bathrooms and laundries, put it in during the build phase. The cost can be prohibitive post handover. Many home builders claim their builders don’t provide this as an option but if you do just want it under your tiled areas (e.g. wet areas) make sure you speak to the tiling company who will often offer this as an option.
If these ‘must do’ upgrades haven’t broken the budget yet we have some other options that you may want to consider. But we’d hardly consider these as mandatory upgrades! Some other items to consider are:
- brick infills above windows — the default is a weatherboard looking piece which is often painted the same colour as the window but can look jarring.
- shower niches — do you want somewhere for your shampoo to sit that is at a decent height? Consider a shower niche. I’m not sure how long this trend is going to last but it’s definitely a handy shelf.
- ducting your rangehood to the outside (rather than recirculating). If you do a lot of stove top cooking, it is recommended you duct your rangehood outside. Unfortunately it’s an upgrade in most cases!
- remote control for your garage — yes believe it or not this is not standard! The standard is a lock and key. So unless you like getting out of your car to open the door, remember to upgrade your garage to be a remote control openable one. Whilst it’s not an expensive exercise to do post handover, you will likely have a handle mark left on your door.
- for the taller folk you may want to consider:
- a higher mounted shower
- higher than ‘standard’ kitchen benchtops
- broom closet – you will realise this is a huge bug bear of mine! You need a home for the brooms and vacuum cleaners. Even if you have a ducted vacuum system you may still want to house something that is taller than a linen closet shelf behind closed doors.
- driveway and landscaping – having this included as part of the build may extend the time when you are not in your new home but it will be much quicker to have it done by someone else as part of the build!
Have we forgotten anything? What do you feel is a “must do” upgrade which isn’t included in the list above? Let us know in the comments!