In the last issue of Building Systems Magazine, I wrote about the market niche of down-sized, up-graded houses in today’s building systems market. In this issue, I want to discuss about upgrade trends we observe that help sell product and add value to your bottom line. Up-grades to a “base spec” house will easily add to the marketability of a house and will increase your profit by as much as $3.00 in sales for every dollar spent in adding thoughtful amenities to the house you build.
Remember, upgrade with reason.
Some upgrades and amenities that we see clients respond favorably are:
- “Landing Zones”. “Landing zones” are planned areas in the mudroom, master bedroom, and front entry for back packs, brief cases, mail, car keys and other items that are immediately disposed when home dwellers enter their houses. Landing zone areas offer a special place for items that we take to and bring back from, work, school and extra-curricular activities. Landing zones can be built in ledges, cubbies, decorative cabinets and decorative wall pegs or small, specially designed closets.
- More Storage. More storage is one of the reasons that people are moving. You can be creative in how you create more storage areas. Look at all the framed-in areas under stairs. It’s a perfect area for doored cubbies and mini-closets. Front and rear entry closets are a must. Build in boot cubbies under the hang space of entry closets by hanging the rod at seven feet rather than six feet, freeing up the under-utilized floor space below. Plan for pantries in the kitchen or adjacent hallways. Place a drying niche with closet rod in the laundry. If your house has nine-foot wall plates, plus, double-tier hang rods in the bedroom closets. If a fireplace projects into a room, look at installing cabinets and book cases to fill out the wall. Provide easier access to attic storage with pull-down stairs. Design the garage an extra 2 feet deep or wide to accommodate storage shelves and /or storage closets.
- Kitchens. Everybody wants luxurious kitchens - - it is difficult to sell a house unless the kitchen is upscale. But, be practical with upgrades. I’ve seen builders with a $150,000.00 house who have put in a large kitchen that cost an extra $50,000.00. It would be unlikely that the additional cost would be recouped in the final selling price.
Rather than vinyl flooring, look at inexpensive stone flooring product (“French” limestone sells at $3.00 a sq. ft.). Shop for granite counter top deals. (We have a number of resources for $12.00 sq. ft. granite tops, custom fabricated to specific kitchen layouts). Rather than opting for a “builder’s package” for appliances, look at purchasing top-of –the-line. The additional dollars can easily be a plus to your overall profit. Eating bars as part of open, interactive living areas are a must. (Remember to leave extra room to pull out stools in walk-ways.) Work with a local lighting consultant for proper task lighting in the kitchen work area. In laying out a kitchen work area, keep in mind the “21-foot” rule, a maximum of a 21-foot work triangle between the sink, stove and refrigerator. Feature appliance garages and caddies in your under-cabinet use designs.
- Bathrooms. Trends today are to have a bathroom for every bedroom. It makes sense to add another bathroom to your house is the design has two and a half to three baths already planned.
Creating a separate compartment for the water closet and tub from the sink and vanity adds the feeling of a more custom bath. Stone or granite vanity tops create a more elegant setting. Tiles showers are cost-effective upgrades to a bathroom. Good make-up light bars over vanities are a necessity. Pay attention to the sone ratings of vent fans for controlling fan noise. For medicine cabinets, plan a 2 x 6 wall rather than a 2 x 4 for extra deep storage units. A wallpaper frieze, crown moulding or tile frieze at the ceiling is an inexpensive method of adding visual interest to a bathroom. Again, use stone or tile floor products rather that vinyl flooring.
- Utilizing “Green” Components and Assemblies. “Building Green” has become the mantra of the Literati of the building industry. How do you, as a builder, apply the “green” products and technologies that are available in the market place to enhancing the house that you offer for sale?
Insist that all equipment and appliances, from HVAC components, vent fans, kitchen appliances, et., are “Energy Star” rated. Use florescent lamping in all lighting fixtures. Work with your factory in offering siding and roofing product that is “green friendly.” Look into offering double and triple glazed, “Low E” windows as your standard window package, promoting the proven energy savings as a fast payback for the upgrade costs. Ask your manufacturer about factory-applied, expanded foam insulation as an alternative insulating assembly. The cost of such a system will add about 7% to the overall cost of the factory price, but expanded foam insulationll manufacturers guarantee that such a system will save at least 50% on yearly energy costs for heating and cooling. The insulation is inert, non off-gassing and goes a long way in eliminating toxic interior atmosphere and mold.