In her latest post, our interior designer Marlene Card gives us some insider tips on how to select upgrades for your condo.
Whenever you hear the word ‘upgrades’, you know it will mean an extra cost to you. It’s a downer to hear the word ‘upgrade’ when selecting your finishes. I prefer to call it ‘Designer Selections’ or ‘Customized Finishes’. They are a group of finishes professionally selected and ones that the builder is willing to take the time to source and offer for those who may want to spend a little on their dream home.
A flexible builder is a good sign that they are willing to customize details and hand select finishes that may bring extra value to your new home as well.
In today’s condo market, new potential purchasers are very well educated on the features and finishes available. It may be from all the condo magazines with designer articles, or the vast selection of condos to select from in the GTA and surrounding areas. Condo sales centres can also be quite elaborate and fun to experience.
Your finishes may be your third to fifth priority when choosing to purchase your new home, so stay focused. Do not assume that the model suite, marketing images or the samples on display are the exact standards. Read the ‘Finish Schedule’ in the ‘Purchase and Sale Agreement’. Then you can decide what you may need as an upgrade to finish your home.
Developers / builders have come full circle in the last 15 years. At the beginning of my career, I offered two selections as standards; white and off white, and then everything else from there was upgrades. Then we offered endless choices to homeowners which made ordering more difficult for builders due to manufacturer’s stock. It made it harder to manage on site and longer for the trades to complete. It is also overwhelming with too many choices in the decor centre for you to select from in a short time.
We came to realize that out of endless choices, only one should be the dominant colour scheme and then maybe two to three other popular finishes out of the many offered. So to simplify the process, we refined the selections to the best choices which makes it more efficient for everyone.
If you are thinking resale, a must for finishes whether it is offered as a standard or upgrade, is to have stainless steel appliances, engineered flooring whether it’s laminate or hardwood, and a stone top in the kitchen like granite or quartz. If the majority of investors are selecting these three items, it will keep you competitive. You should also grade your building to know if it is a higher end building, and then make sure the finishes in your suite reflect this as well.
Keep in mind though, when renting out your suite, you may not want stainless steel appliances or hardwood. These finishes are harder to maintain and the replacement cost is high. In addition, what’s necessary for you to do is to offer window treatments for your new tenant and this is an affordable upgrade through builders.
What if you are living there yourself for a lengthy time? The sky’s the limit! Be creative, have fun and make it comfortable for your lifestyle. Consider what upgrade is ideal for the builder to do as it is difficult to do later. An example is a smooth ceiling instead of a stucco ceiling. Smooth is very messy to do on your own after you have your suite and it is better to let the builder do this during construction of your new home.
Other upgrades to consider would be any cabinet upgrades like a pot and pan drawer, adding a pantry, or adding lighting to the underside of kitchen upper cabinets. These items would be costly to do on your own once you move in.
Builders may also offer upgrade wood trim mouldings, higher quality carpet and underpad, and higher quality faucets and fixtures. You have to decide what you need right away and what is more convenient for you to get through to the builder.
Have fun with your decision making. The process is always fun and the builder usually offers an experienced designer to guide you along the way!