2012 Apr 6th

Why It Pays To Make That Hoboken Condo Your Own

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.

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.

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  1. Craig

    Builder grade fixtures are usually terrible, even in so-called luxury developments. I made many changes to my unit: New lighting fixtures, faucets, and bathroom vanities/mirrors. Backsplashes in the kitchen and master bath; replaced gold door knobs with nickel levers, and replaced standard light switches with lutron designer style ones. A common thing builders almost always cheap out on is bathroom fans. They are usually horribly loud and not strong enough to adequately vent the size room they’re in. Swapped those out too and put them on timers.

    The question I have is: how much value does such upgrades really add? I wonder if most buyers would even notice them unless they’ve been in other units in the building that haven’t been upgraded. It’s unwise to go too far beyond the rest of your building with upgrades. You don’t want to be selling the lone condo valued at $600k in a building full of unadorned $500k ones.

    Lastly, that Nest thermostat is clever. But at $250 bucks a pop, I wonder if it’ll find many takers. Not sure most people need a wi-fi enabled thermostat. The Consumer Reports top-rated Lux programmable model can be had for $65 on Amazon. I guess the question will be how much is it worth it to you not having to program your thermostat yourself.

  2. Lori

    The Nest is cool. It looks cool on your wall. It saves energy. It works well. People will pay for that – see: Apple.

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