Builder Upgrades! The Ones You SHOULD and SHOULDN’T Do!

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Builder Upgrades! The Ones You Should and Shouldn’t Do!

Southern California has a ton of new home builds going on right now, and I feel it is important to talk about the upgrades you should and shouldn’t do. I have seen firsthand where builder upgrades were purchased, and the minute the buyer closed on the home, they were underwater in regards to the appraised value. This blog and video will help you not make those same mistakes.

My name is Joel, and I am a broker at Greenleaf Real Estate in Temecula, California. My wife, Christie, is a licensed and certified appraiser. We make a great team, and without a doubt, having a veteran appraiser in the office helps our buyers and sellers tremendously. At the end of this blog post, I will add a local home search for Southern California. You can customize it how you want, and information is updated daily.

Builder Upgrades: The Ones You Should Not Do


The markup for nice flooring is usually going to be pretty steep. The builder might also limit you to the kind of flooring they have available or have access to. My suggestion? Get the most inexpensive flooring possible from the builder and shop around after you close for the perfect floor that fits your home. Wait for a deal or sale from the many flooring stores around Southern California.

Kitchen Counters

Granite or quartz countertops will soon be standard in the majority of new home constructions. Make sure you plan ahead and pick colors that will eventually match flooring, cabinets, and paint.

Patio Cover

In my experience, this is a big no-no. Many times the builder will add a stucco or cement patio, but the price tag will be steep. Alumawood patios, which range from $15,000 to $25,000, are a great alternative and will cost you no more than $2,500 to $3,500 if you shop around. I actually like the alumawood patios more than the stucco or concrete ones. You can customize the Alumawood patios in regards to lights, fans, etc.

Crown Molding

This is something you can price, but make sure to call around before having the builder install it. In my experience, builders will charge more for something that is relatively simple and readily available.

Blinds or shutters

If the builder is going to charge you for blinds or shutters, definitely hold off on these. There are many opportunities in places like Facebook Marketplace to have shutters installed for around $11 to $12 a square foot. much better than the cheap blinds the builders are going to put in.

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One of the best things you can do for appliances goes on Facebook Marketplace. We have always had success and not too many problems buying appliances secondhand. One of the benefits? That $2,500 range is now $800 for pretty much the same thing without the warranty. Verify what appliances are being put in the home and what the builder is charging you for them.


This is a tough one. Personally,  I would do the upgraded cabinets with 40-inch cabinets that go directly to the ceiling. It might be a little cheaper to do it after the fact, but the hassle just isn’t worth it. Just have the builder do it while you’re designing the kitchen.

Carpet Pad

The pad is what is going to make your carpet more comfortable. Definitely ask the builder what the cost will be to upgrade the thickness of the carpet pad. Similar to the kitchen cabinets, unless the builder has an outrageous price, this might be better to do during the build phase and not have to worry about it after.

Builder Improvements You Should Make

There are definitely some things that you should upgrade during the building phase of your home. Here are a few things you should have the builder add.


Maybe not the actual lights, but wiring for multiple lights in all rooms is something that I would spend the extra money on. Why? It’s a lot easier to run extra wire when all the walls are open.


Similar to lighting, it’s obviously much easier to add upgraded insulation during the build. If you’re in a climate with extreme cold or extreme heat, look into upgrading the installation during the build of your home.

Speakers or Sound System

We have a common theme. Here,  upgrade things when the walls are open. In regards to speakers and sound, many people want music for entertainment throughout the house. Install speaker wires during the construction process to avoid opening up drywall later. This will make your life much easier, and you will have music for every occasion.

Larger Garage

This is obviously something that the builder is going to do and something I would definitely price out. If you have the option of having a three-car garage for a minimal cost, I would take this option in a minute. Many buyers need storage space. We all seem to have two or three cars now. We have Christmas, Easter, and Halloween items to store. We have shelves with tools. These are just a few of the items that many of us keep in the garage, and adding a third-car garage would undoubtedly increase the value of your home.

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