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Happy Homes: Planning for the Future while Building a New Home

Congratulations! You’re starting to meet with architects and home designers to map out your future dream house.  It’s an exciting time, but also involves a number of critical decisions that could greatly impact your lifestyle as well as the overall value of your home. Many of those decisions involve picking which upgrades to budget for now and what changes can be made later. Here’s our tips for avoiding decision fatigue while saving your budget (and your sanity!) 

Save for Later 

If you’re hoping to stay within your current  budget and make upgrades at a later time, the following  changes are relatively simple and inexpensive:

  • Wall color and other decorative elements. A few cans of paint can transform a room without changing the inherent design structure. Furthermore, decorative elements like wainscoting, crown molding, chair rails, and baseboards are usually very easy to install at any time.
  • Lighting, kitchen, and bathroom fixtures. Whether it’s the pendant lamps in the kitchen or the faucets in the master bathroom, most fixtures and finishes in a new home can be upgraded once the home improvement budget has recovered. The exception? Interior plumbing or electrical work that would require a contractor to cut into the ceiling or walls for installation— such as adding recessed lighting or rerouting the plumbing. 
  • Most appliances. Need time to save up for a new gourmet stove or state-of-the-art refrigerator? No problem, most of the time. Many standard appliances are approximately the same size, so swapping in a high-end model later shouldn’t be an issue. Just be aware of any built-in cabinetry measurements that may not fit a newer model appliance. If you know you’ll be upgrading to a larger stove, dishwasher, or refrigerator, make sure you design accordingly. 

Don’t Wait Updates 

These costly updates are less expensive when made during construction. 

  • Accessibility and modifications for aging-in-place. Multigenerational living continues to be important for many Hawaiian families, but modifying a home to meet the needs of every family member can be costly when done to an existing structure. It’s much easier and less expensive to make these upgrades while building a new home instead of after.

 These types of modifications include widening doorways and hallways, removing step-down entryways, and installing ADA compliant bathtubs and showers. Work with your designer and contractor to accommodate multigenerational living from day one to avoid a costly renovation later. 

  • Changes to support structures and stairways. Eliminating a load-bearing wall is a costly renovation, as is moving or changing the location of a stairway, so make sure your home design plans work for both the lifestyle you have now as well as in the future. Keep in mind that it is always easier to add a wall or partition than it is to remove. 
  • Installation of green and smart-home technology. While some smart-home tech is relatively simple to install, others require extensive wiring that’s easier to include during the overall framing and electrical process, so make sure you do your research before you build.  And when it comes to sustainability and environmentally friendly additions, it’s usually best to make these upgrades during construction as well. For example, high-quality insulation and energy-efficient HVAC systems are worth the upfront cost since any future installation will be much more expensive. 
  • Changing the size or number of windows. Natural light is a beautiful and sustainable part of any new home, so make it a priority during construction instead of after. Upgrading to larger or additional windows will be expensive initially, but it’s often nearly impossible and often quite expensive to do once your home is completed. 

Want more tips on what to do while waiting to start construction? Check out this Happy Homes post on making the most of the pre-construction period.

Need more expert advice on making your dream home a reality? Let us help. We can match you with experienced architects, designers, and contractors to ensure that your next home lasts for generations. And if your budget needs a revamp, make sure to use our free online estimator to get your project back on track!