Builder Upgrades...to do or not to do? When is DIY best or not.

What's your take on builder upgrades?  Have you done them yourself and passed on the upgrade, do you recommend to others to do them or not? are there some upgrades you recommend do yourself but others you suggest have the builder do?  Examples....comments?  What about kitchen counters?  or back yard fence?  garage door openers, light fixtures???  how do you decide-  If your an agent do you suggest one way or the other to your clients or do you stay out of it??   (not looking for advice...looking for poll like results- what you do or have done etc).
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November 13 2013 - Tuttle
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Profile picture for SoCal_Engr
Since we are talking "builder upgrades", my preference is to focus on "upgrade". Below are generalized responses, along with my decisions on the last new-build purchase

Note: For purposes of this discussion, "DIY" includes "hire your own contractor, post purchase".

If it's structural, or hard-to-do-later, then consider letting the builder do it...
-- Add bathroom (required plumbing in slab, etc.) - Let the builder do it
-- Add overhead lighting (required in-wall wiring, etc.) - Let the builder do it
-- Add a double-door in arched entry to den - DIY (many years later)
-- Add a MBDR balcony - Let the builder do it

If the cost is an incremental cost (even if it's a bit steep) and not a "common maintenance" item...
-- Upgrade level of granite - Let the builder do it
-- Upgrade amount of granite - Let the builder do it
-- Carpet and flooring - DIY (after base install wears out)
-- Upgrade all doors/jambs - Let the builder do it

If the item is separate from the house, or there is no "base" embedded in the purchase price..
-- DIY
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November 17 2013
Hi Connie,
  The last thing I think a buyer wants to do is work on their new home just after they close.  I think the best course of action in regards to upgrades is to measure which upgrades would be the most challenging to address after closing and do your best to work them into your deal.  If the builder is offering a design allowance, Great! Go after the challenging items with the allowance, then ask the builder to do the easier items in addition.  Maybe you get half of your non-challenging list maybe you get none, but good chance you'll get something if you require it to make the deal.
-Eric
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November 17 2013
excuse typos. i posted with phone and the edit feature doesnt appear to work anymore by phone os
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November 13 2013
i am thinking that fence would be a diy because builders charge crazy pricea for that but i know for me personally somerhing like a kitchen counter upgrage would take forever to happen if it was Diy and would be disruptive so builder upgrade is better. refrigerator woild not be one i would choose because financed inro my home purchase for long term doesn't make sense to me when stores offer 12 months no interest
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November 13 2013
While I think you could definitely save money doing it yourself, most buyers buying new build homes are going to want to walk into a brand new home with no deferred maintenance, and no "projects" to worry about for the immediate future.  You'll definitely pay more for the builder upgrades, but that's part of the trade off.  Just my two cents - great question.
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November 13 2013
 
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