Interesting question from a reader:
For new construction in large buildings, is value enhanced for differentiating one unit from the others by installing or upgrading things like a kitchen backsplash, new flooring and getting rid of “Broadway” lighting?
My answer – absolutely!
I’m shocked at how few new construction units even have a backsplash in the kitchen. Most are just sheetrock waiting to be splattered with water and grease. I’m stunned that builders are still putting “Broadway” bulbs in a bathroom and then have the nerve to call it a ‘luxury’ condo. I’m amazed that every kitchen in Toll Brothers units are basically identical – same old cabinets, in the same color, with the same countertops and knobs.
Make it your own! Those upgrades are a relatively small cost to an individual purchaser but leaving them out of hundreds or thousands of units adds up to a huge savings to a builder like Toll.
Here are some very simple guidelines I would suggest if you are going to make changes.
- Stick to neutrals. If you think you want to sell at some point, you want your home to appeal to a wide audience. Going for a really quirky style may put your stamp of personality on your property but may be a turn-off to future buyers. One of the biggest mistakes I see sellers make is refusing to repaint their homes a neutral color. Paint is extremely cheap and color has an enormous influence on people.
- Stick to classics. What’s à la mode today may look extremely dated in 5 years. Pick a style that will endure, not the latest fad. Those counter-mounted vessel sinks looked new a few years ago, now they are starting to look silly. I’ve yet to turn on the water in one without having it splash all over me.
- Stick to quality. Better to pay a bit more now for something well made than skimp and end up with wear and tear in the near future. Not only that, better brands will stand behind their product. I just hung up with Kohler because the hot water faucet in my sink was leaking. They are sending me a new one, for free.
Another area where you can get huge bang for your buck is in improved lighting. If you can install recessed ceiling lighting or, at least, decent ceiling surface-mounted fixtures, do it. Beyond that, though, if you do some research on lighting or go to a good lighting store, you can learn about ambient and accent lighting which really makes a difference in the feel of a space.
Similarly, most new condos in Hoboken offer a slab of mirror over a sink and call that a finished bath. Go to Restoration Hardware, Waterworks or Simon’s in the city and get a good quality mirror, lights, sconces and matching accessories. Other small touches that make a big difference include light switch and socket covers, door knobs, closet shelves and organizers, window treatments and, my favorite new addition to my home – a really cool thermostat that learns when you’re home and when your not and then self-adjusts. Or you can just do it with your phone.