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by Susie Steckner on Oct 4, 2017

A spacious great room for family gatherings. A multi-slide glass door to capture breathtaking views. A cozy outdoor fireplace perfect for cool desert evenings. 

Whatever is on your must-have list, builders can help transform indoor and outdoor spaces to give you the home you’ve always wanted. The range of structural and cosmetic options today runs the gamut from paint accents and patio covers to windows and wine rooms.

"As a builder, we pride ourselves in helping to create the buyer's dream home," said Sue Goodrich, vice president of sales and marketing for Cachet homes. “We have hundreds of standard upgrades and in addition, will entertain custom upgrades for a buyer.”

The key for new-home buyers is knowing what to do while the home is under construction and what can wait until later. Before you dive in, here’s what to consider:

What's trending. Buyers today aren't shy about asking for upgrades that will boost comfort and lifestyle“Wine rooms, multi-glide doors, casitas, basements, and kitchen and master suite options are very popular,” said Kevin Rosinski, division senior vice president for Toll Brothers. For outdoor spaces, buyers are focused on upgrades such as pools, patio covers, outdoor kitchens and great rooms, hardscape and soft-scape, he said.

Structural vs. cosmetic. Builders consider structural changes as anything that will affect the square-footage of the home, exterior of the home or plumbing, or changes that affect the slab of the home, Goodrich said. This would include decisions to move walls, changes that impact underground plumbing such as adding bathrooms and/or laundry sinks, additions or changes to exterior doors or windows, and adding features like fireplaces.

Cosmetic changes, meanwhile, can include paint colors, lighting fixtures, cabinetry, countertops, floor surfaces, tub and shower surface upgrades, garage epoxy, upgraded appliances and landscaping, she said.

Now or later. Buyers will want to talk with their builders about what upgrades may be best to add through the builder — everything from electrical upgrades to hard surface flooring — rather than after closing escrow on the home. 

“Toll Brothers recommends doing as many upgrades [as desired] during the buying process since we cannot guarantee the quality of aftermarket items,” Rosinski said.

Some upgrades can be costly and complex if delayed, Goodrich said. In the kitchen, for instance, cabinets can be difficult to change later on because they affect countertops, backsplashes and sometimes flooring. If the builder’s standard master bathroom is a cultured marble shower and bathtub and you prefer a larger tiled walk-in shower, making the change through the builder may be easier. Adding swimming pools after move-in can also create issues, impacting fencing or landscaping.

But other upgrades can wait, Goodrich said. These include paint accents, crown molding and decorative trim, garage epoxy, appliances and landscaping. 

“If you do not need these upgrades incorporated into your mortgage you could add these items after close of escrow,” she said.

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