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If I Could Do It Over: A Series on Buying a Home from a Builder in Calgary (Part 2)

Posted by Rachel R. Vanderveen on Sunday, February 6th, 2011 at 3:26pm.

Building a New home with a Builder in Calgary: Choose Your Upgrades Wisely


Clint and I had a decision to make when we chose our lot in Auburn Bay: we could buy an estate home in Auburn Bay and build it bare bones with no upgrades whatsoever, or we could buy a mid-range home and bling it from top to bottom with upgrades. I'm sad to report that I don't think we made the best choice.

We chose to bling it.

Now I think there is something to be said for blinging it if you don't have a husband or wife who is handy. In that case, it's probably better to let a professional builder put in all your pretty finishing touches. But at the end of the day, I think adding square footage and structural upgrades is where the main portion of your upgrade dollars should be spent.

Some non-negotiables, in my opinion, is adding 9 or 10 foot ceilings to every floor they will allow you, and increasing the foot print of your home to as big as they will allow. As long as by doing that, you're not making your yard stunningly small. In most cases, you won't be allowed to do that.

I think adding square footage and structural upgrades is where the main portion of your upgrade dollars should be spent.


Calgary New Home Upgrades: What Upgrades Give the Most Bang for your Buck?

Other good upgrades to grab at the time of building are archways which add to the visual appeal of the house. In addition, I think 8 or 9 foot doorways make the whole floor seem to soar, and they're costly to put in after the fact. Now of course you can't do that unless you've already got 9 or 10 foot ceilings. We chose to add as many windows as they would allow, and I think that was a good choice. Adding as much natural light at the get-go is a great feature for resale, and it's hard to do later. Stretching your kitchen cabinets all the way to the ceiling adds so much; it's very costly to do with the builder, but doing it after the fact is difficult as colour-matching and sizing come into play.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Floor Space
  • Archways
  • Tall Doorways
  • Add Windows
  • High Ceilings
  • Cabinets
  • Garage - Bigger = Better!

Most Calgary builders only offer a standard 20x20 garage, some even only  18x18. Those numbers simply don't cut the mustard. One would be lucky to get two small cars into those garages. We made ours as big as possible, but our lot wouldn't allow for the size we wanted. I think we have 21x23. I can't remember. Try for a minimum of 22x22 and if you can make your double attached bigger than that, do it!

Most importantly of all is increasing your floor space. Now we upgraded our top level floor space, but we should have upgraded the bottom as well. It would have pushed us into a new category of Real Estate comparables. If we had scrapped the wired-in speaker system, we could have afforded it. What we should have done, is had the speakers pre-wired, and bought the system and speakers after the fact. Hindsight.

Well that gives you an idea of what you should for sure include on your list of upgrades. Tomorrows blog will include things that you can definitely live without.

Until next time


Rachel Vanderveen

The Vanderveen Team
Maxwell South Star Realty
Phone: 403.253.5678 Fax: 403.592.6736

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