When you have lived in a few houses you get to know the features that you value, and those you don’t. And with some of those features, you only get one chance to install them and that is during construction. Having recently built a Carlisle Home, I had the same dilemma that many of our customers face; that is deciding between features and options that should be built in during construction, and those that can afford to wait until later.
So now I can see that there were features that I am very glad I chose because (1) they add value to the way I use the home right now, and (2) they would have been nearly impossible to fit afterwards. There are also features I chose that I wouldn’t worry about if I was building again.
I would be kicking myself if I had not installed under-tile heating to the ensuite. It’s fantastic to walk on warm tiles in the middle of winter – much better than I expected it would be! I use it on a timer so it only heats during the times I need it to, and it is surprisingly cost effective to run. This is the sort of feature that if you don’t install during construction it will most likely never happen, so this one goes to the top of my list for features I’m glad I chose and would whole-heartedly recommend.
Next is a simple one that makes a big difference to the way the kitchen works; I opted for an integrated bin system in a pot drawer just under the kitchen counter top. It’s just a multi-compartment rubbish bin, but the ability to scrape kitchen waste from the benchtop directly into the bin below is one of those little tricks that experience teaches you is a great feature. Potentially I could have bought this from Bunnings afterwards, but there would be a question mark over how well it would fit and if I would ever get around to it! I think it might have been difficult to retrofit and much better to be incorporated into the house build.
I am really glad I have sensor lights in a couple of locations. One is in the garage where the lights will come on as I drive my car in, or as I walk from the house to the car. I would never have thought this would be as useful as it is. It is easy to install during construction and very hard to do later. I also have a sensor light in the powder room so guests are not fumbling to find the light switch. I am now wishing I had also put them in the walk-in-robe.
At some point in the future I want to install garden lights. Even though it’s a fair way down my wish list, I did make provision for external lighting during construction. I simply have an electrical junction box wired to an internal light switch that will eventually operate the garden lights. This was inexpensive to do up front but would have been a nightmare to wire once all the electrical work was completed. I am not getting the benefit of this option yet, but I’m glad the provision is there.
I get a surprising amount of benefit from a couple of exterior cameras that are linked to the garage door opener. Two cameras are sufficient, and not just as a security measure. It has been very handy to be able to see a delivery via my phone and open the garage door to allow a secure delivery. This would have been considerably more expensive to achieve after handover than it was during construction, and has added a lot of convenience.
One option that was a no-brainer for me was to select the most efficient heater I could have. This is an initial investment that will take a small number of years to pay off. Gas prices are not going down any time soon, so even though there is an initial expense to upgrade, the savings each year are easily measurable. In the long run, this saves more than it costs and would be one of the first things I selected if I was to build again. I don’t feel like I’m saving the planet – I’m just saving money.
There were a couple of things I selected that I probably didn’t need to. One was electric heaters to my alfresco, which seemed like a good idea at the time. The reality is that I have barely used them and could have used the money elsewhere. I also opted for some fancy features on my alarm. Really, I just needed a basic unit, but I will have more to say about alarms and security measures in another article. These weren’t bad options – they just didn’t work for me.
So I’ve learnt though my experience as a buyer of building products and as a customer of Carlisle Homes, that there are features of your new home that are much easier to obtain if they are installed during construction. You need to ask for advice on the various features and fittings you are considering in order to understand what should be done sooner and what could be done later. You could save a lot of money and effort in the long run.