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  #1  
Old 2019-11-19, 10:22 AM
sjla sjla is offline
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Default Design Centre Yays and Nays?

Hey everyone, just started our first round of design centre meetings. Wondering if anyone can give some inputs about any must haves or design centre regrets? Tight budget here. Thanks in advance!
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  #2  
Old 2019-11-19, 01:22 PM
JCC JCC is offline
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Pick things that you could not / would not want to upgrade yourself later, or would be more expensive to upgrade later. The obvious one that comes to mind that is a break-even exercise is your flooring. You will NOT rip up your carpet and upgrade the underpadding later, so do that now. You likely won't rip up your floor and install hardwood later, so do that now. You probably won't rip up your hardwood later to upgrade it, so do it now. Remember that when upgrading hardwood, you're usually paying as you increase the width of the board, so if you can find a stain that you like on a thinner plank, just go with it.

Think about where you spend most of your time.

Think about resale value (not too much or you'll drive yourself mad).

Ask to see the standards first, you may be quite surprised.

Don't bother upgrading plumbing fixtures as long as the standards aren't crap... they're usually pretty simple to do later, even yourself - especially if every fixture has a dedicated local shut-off.

Don't pay for them to install a garage door opener. They'll often charge you an arm and a leg, and you can buy your own on black friday and either install it yourself or pay to have someone install - we saved $200 over the builder's cost.

Don't waste money going for a non-standard paint. That stuff is gonna crack and crack and you'll have nail pops - it's money wasted. Find a "standard" one you can live with, do it yourself later. It'll be the same cost either way.

Potlights might seem expensive right now, but just think how much more expensive it'll be to have them cut holes in the ceiling and re-wire later. Worth spending the $50 - $250 (depending on the builder) to add a couple more now.

PAY TO UPGRADE YOUR STANDARD POTLIGHTS TO THE HALO POTLIGHTS. 4 halo potlights do the work of 9 non-halo potlights - they let off SO much more light - and it cost us like $40 for the entire house.

Otherwise, stick with standard lighting fixtures. Multi-luminare runs some pretty decent sales regularly, have good selection, and if you know what you are doing, changing lights is a breeze, or $200 for an electrician to do many of them isn't a huge deal.

Don't waste your money adding in dimmers. They'll charge you like $80 per, and use dimmers that you can get at costco for $20 for 2. Buy dimmable bulbs, install them, and buy a dimmer switch yourself.

If you don't like the standard door handles, I'd suggest you do them yourself later unless you have a ton of pocket doors. It's a solely aesthetic thing, and you can usually buy a set of handles you like at home depot for half the cost.

The exterior door handle is usually an attractive thing to upgrade, but builders often use commercial grade stuff (like Taymor), which I find isn't as safe as Schlage or Weiser...consider hiring a locksmith/DIY later.

Unless it's stupid expensive, pay for them to frost your bathroom glass & your front door. The cost is almost identical to doing it yourself in most cases, and less hassle. It sucks doing it yourself. Less than $40ish a window? Make them do it.

Seriously - think of what you'll be willing to do later, rather than "yeah, I'd do that eventually", and it'll never get done. Let's be honest here, you'll never change your floors, your cabinets, your countertops - so don't skimp there.

Upgrading your staircase to hardwood? Do it now if you're going to do it - it'll cost you a ****ton more to do later - they have to rip out the entire staircase, and while they do it you have to use a ladder to get up/down unless they provide temporary ones.

If you have specific questions, feel free to ask - I ended up spending easily 5 hours of my own time researching/doing a cost-benefit for every hour we spent at the design centre. I'm happy to help out if you have specific things you're thinking of upgrading.

Last edited by JCC; 2019-11-19 at 01:31 PM.
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  #3  
Old 2019-11-19, 03:44 PM
OttawaC OttawaC is offline
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Really depends on your tastes and choices and what you are willing to do now versus later.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind with upgrades and new homes:

1. Every new home in Ottawa will have a lot of work after closing. I am thinking of things like window coverings, closets, decorating, landscaping, fencing, decks, eavestrough, lighting, and painting. The more things that you pass on in the design centre for later, the longer that list becomes.

2. Make sure you evaluate the total cost of any design centre upgrade fairly. The design centre cost is for a completed install price - this includes the cost of sourcing the item, taxes delivery to the home, labour to install, clean up, and warranty.

3. Complete a list of must haves versus nice to have. Start with the must haves first and see how it affects your budget.

4. Always set a budget and if you are going over, I suggest you re-visit your choices and make changes.

Best of luck. It can seem overwhelming, so I also suggest that you make several trips to the design centre to see what your options are.
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  #4  
Old 2019-11-19, 03:49 PM
JCC JCC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OttawaC View Post
Really depends on your tastes and choices and what you are willing to do now versus later.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind with upgrades and new homes:

1. Every new home in Ottawa will have a lot of work after closing. I am thinking of things like window coverings, closets, decorating, landscaping, fencing, decks, eavestrough, lighting, and painting. The more things that you pass on in the design centre for later, the longer that list becomes.

2. Make sure you evaluate the total cost of any design centre upgrade fairly. The design centre cost is for a completed install price - this includes the cost of sourcing the item, taxes delivery to the home, labour to install, clean up, and warranty.

3. Complete a list of must haves versus nice to have. Start with the must haves first and see how it affects your budget.

4. Always set a budget and if you are going over, I suggest you re-visit your choices and make changes.

Best of luck. It can seem overwhelming, so I also suggest that you make several trips to the design centre to see what your options are.
#2 I'd add the caveat that basically everything in the world has a way to ship for free right now.

#3 is fantastic advice. WE did exactly this. Had them price basically everything we liked, including things like multiple floor styles, and then narrowed.

#4 is great if you're on a budget - but be realistic. If you want to do X, Y, and Z, each of which costs $5-10K, don't set your budget at 15K. Taper expectations vs bugdet.
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  #5  
Old 2019-11-19, 04:53 PM
sjla sjla is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OttawaC View Post
Really depends on your tastes and choices and what you are willing to do now versus later.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind with upgrades and new homes:

1. Every new home in Ottawa will have a lot of work after closing. I am thinking of things like window coverings, closets, decorating, landscaping, fencing, decks, eavestrough, lighting, and painting. The more things that you pass on in the design centre for later, the longer that list becomes.

2. Make sure you evaluate the total cost of any design centre upgrade fairly. The design centre cost is for a completed install price - this includes the cost of sourcing the item, taxes delivery to the home, labour to install, clean up, and warranty.

3. Complete a list of must haves versus nice to have. Start with the must haves first and see how it affects your budget.

4. Always set a budget and if you are going over, I suggest you re-visit your choices and make changes.

Best of luck. It can seem overwhelming, so I also suggest that you make several trips to the design centre to see what your options are.
Very good points, thank you!
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  #6  
Old 2019-11-19, 05:17 PM
sjla sjla is offline
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Originally Posted by JCC View Post
Pick things that you could not / would not want to upgrade yourself later, or would be more expensive to upgrade later. The obvious one that comes to mind that is a break-even exercise is your flooring. You will NOT rip up your carpet and upgrade the underpadding later, so do that now. You likely won't rip up your floor and install hardwood later, so do that now. You probably won't rip up your hardwood later to upgrade it, so do it now. Remember that when upgrading hardwood, you're usually paying as you increase the width of the board, so if you can find a stain that you like on a thinner plank, just go with it.

Think about where you spend most of your time.

Think about resale value (not too much or you'll drive yourself mad).

Ask to see the standards first, you may be quite surprised.

Don't bother upgrading plumbing fixtures as long as the standards aren't crap... they're usually pretty simple to do later, even yourself - especially if every fixture has a dedicated local shut-off.

Don't pay for them to install a garage door opener. They'll often charge you an arm and a leg, and you can buy your own on black friday and either install it yourself or pay to have someone install - we saved $200 over the builder's cost.

Don't waste money going for a non-standard paint. That stuff is gonna crack and crack and you'll have nail pops - it's money wasted. Find a "standard" one you can live with, do it yourself later. It'll be the same cost either way.

Potlights might seem expensive right now, but just think how much more expensive it'll be to have them cut holes in the ceiling and re-wire later. Worth spending the $50 - $250 (depending on the builder) to add a couple more now.

PAY TO UPGRADE YOUR STANDARD POTLIGHTS TO THE HALO POTLIGHTS. 4 halo potlights do the work of 9 non-halo potlights - they let off SO much more light - and it cost us like $40 for the entire house.

Otherwise, stick with standard lighting fixtures. Multi-luminare runs some pretty decent sales regularly, have good selection, and if you know what you are doing, changing lights is a breeze, or $200 for an electrician to do many of them isn't a huge deal.

Don't waste your money adding in dimmers. They'll charge you like $80 per, and use dimmers that you can get at costco for $20 for 2. Buy dimmable bulbs, install them, and buy a dimmer switch yourself.

If you don't like the standard door handles, I'd suggest you do them yourself later unless you have a ton of pocket doors. It's a solely aesthetic thing, and you can usually buy a set of handles you like at home depot for half the cost.

The exterior door handle is usually an attractive thing to upgrade, but builders often use commercial grade stuff (like Taymor), which I find isn't as safe as Schlage or Weiser...consider hiring a locksmith/DIY later.

Unless it's stupid expensive, pay for them to frost your bathroom glass & your front door. The cost is almost identical to doing it yourself in most cases, and less hassle. It sucks doing it yourself. Less than $40ish a window? Make them do it.

Seriously - think of what you'll be willing to do later, rather than "yeah, I'd do that eventually", and it'll never get done. Let's be honest here, you'll never change your floors, your cabinets, your countertops - so don't skimp there.

Upgrading your staircase to hardwood? Do it now if you're going to do it - it'll cost you a ****ton more to do later - they have to rip out the entire staircase, and while they do it you have to use a ladder to get up/down unless they provide temporary ones.

If you have specific questions, feel free to ask - I ended up spending easily 5 hours of my own time researching/doing a cost-benefit for every hour we spent at the design centre. I'm happy to help out if you have specific things you're thinking of upgrading.
Thank you so much for your input! As you can tell we're quite noobs at this lol.. Just spoke with the builder and got a quote of like $500 for frosting the front door...no thanks Also the design centre lady wasn't able to tell us the make/model of the pot lights they use. I notice they have different pot lights in their model homes and some lights are definitely dimmer but apparently she said it depends on what they are able to get from the supplier/contractor? Halo potlights she said she needs to ask for a quote bc it's not something they supply normally etc etc.

Anyway what do you think of keeping the standard carpet for the second floor and changing it ourselves to hardwood after closing? I've never actually had it done but I'm sure we can hire someone who can do it cheaper than the builder right?

Also, any thoughts about kitchen cabinets? I wanted to keep the standard which is wood but it's the colors that the builder is making us pay for. I think the white color cabinets that we wanted is like a 2-3k upgrade..of course this upgrades the species of the wood to walnut or something fancy but still, it seems a bit steep for a color change. Could this be painted easily later?
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  #7  
Old 2019-11-20, 08:57 AM
JCC JCC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjla View Post
Thank you so much for your input! As you can tell we're quite noobs at this lol.. Just spoke with the builder and got a quote of like $500 for frosting the front door...no thanks Also the design centre lady wasn't able to tell us the make/model of the pot lights they use. I notice they have different pot lights in their model homes and some lights are definitely dimmer but apparently she said it depends on what they are able to get from the supplier/contractor? Halo potlights she said she needs to ask for a quote bc it's not something they supply normally etc etc.

Anyway what do you think of keeping the standard carpet for the second floor and changing it ourselves to hardwood after closing? I've never actually had it done but I'm sure we can hire someone who can do it cheaper than the builder right?

Also, any thoughts about kitchen cabinets? I wanted to keep the standard which is wood but it's the colors that the builder is making us pay for. I think the white color cabinets that we wanted is like a 2-3k upgrade..of course this upgrades the species of the wood to walnut or something fancy but still, it seems a bit steep for a color change. Could this be painted easily later?
Don't sweat it. This was our first time, too, but countless hours of research really paid off.

$500 to frost the front door is ridiculous. You can pick up a pretty good quality frosting kit at home depot for like $40, do it yourself, and have film left to spare. In their case, it's so expensive because the frosting is between panes of glass rather than being on one side (or at least that's my understanding).

Halo pot lights are a fairly common thing these days, so it shocks me that she would need a special quote for it.

On the note of carpet, so we have a partially finished basement - we ended up upgrading the underpadding in the basement and SLIGHTLY upgrading the carpeting throughout the house. We left the upstairs carpeted (we upgraded the stairs to hardwood), but without underpadding upgrade because we'd do it eventually. Really, hardwood isn't hard to install these days, especially if you have fairly standard corners. It'll cost you much less to DIY later, but make sure you find out where the hardwood you have on the main floor is from, because you'll likely want to keep it the same. But yes, most flooring companies will do it for cheaper than the builder. I think we quoted $11K to do the upstairs in the same hardwood as downstairs, whereas the company that would have done it quoted us at like 7K.

For cabinets in the kitchen, we went all out. We upgraded to maple, with one of their most expensive cabinet types (and one that really won't show if the cabinets expand/contract), and one of their most expensive paints. I think all in all, cabinets between kitchen and bathrooms cost us nearly $6000 or $7000.

I would ask them what kind of wood they use for the cabinets - most builders tend to have MDF or Thermofoil as standards. I don't know about painting cabinets later, but they don't just use any old paint for them. Think about the cabinets near your stove - that thing lets off a TON of heat, and cabinets would have to stand up to that. $2000 or $3000 seems steep for a colour (more understandable if the wood changes), but remember how much you see your kitchen, how many other people see it, and how much you use it. Kitchen is also one of the rooms that increases resale value of a home.
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  #8  
Old 2019-11-20, 02:05 PM
sjla sjla is offline
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Originally Posted by JCC View Post
Don't sweat it. This was our first time, too, but countless hours of research really paid off.

$500 to frost the front door is ridiculous. You can pick up a pretty good quality frosting kit at home depot for like $40, do it yourself, and have film left to spare. In their case, it's so expensive because the frosting is between panes of glass rather than being on one side (or at least that's my understanding).

Halo pot lights are a fairly common thing these days, so it shocks me that she would need a special quote for it.

On the note of carpet, so we have a partially finished basement - we ended up upgrading the underpadding in the basement and SLIGHTLY upgrading the carpeting throughout the house. We left the upstairs carpeted (we upgraded the stairs to hardwood), but without underpadding upgrade because we'd do it eventually. Really, hardwood isn't hard to install these days, especially if you have fairly standard corners. It'll cost you much less to DIY later, but make sure you find out where the hardwood you have on the main floor is from, because you'll likely want to keep it the same. But yes, most flooring companies will do it for cheaper than the builder. I think we quoted $11K to do the upstairs in the same hardwood as downstairs, whereas the company that would have done it quoted us at like 7K.

For cabinets in the kitchen, we went all out. We upgraded to maple, with one of their most expensive cabinet types (and one that really won't show if the cabinets expand/contract), and one of their most expensive paints. I think all in all, cabinets between kitchen and bathrooms cost us nearly $6000 or $7000.

I would ask them what kind of wood they use for the cabinets - most builders tend to have MDF or Thermofoil as standards. I don't know about painting cabinets later, but they don't just use any old paint for them. Think about the cabinets near your stove - that thing lets off a TON of heat, and cabinets would have to stand up to that. $2000 or $3000 seems steep for a colour (more understandable if the wood changes), but remember how much you see your kitchen, how many other people see it, and how much you use it. Kitchen is also one of the rooms that increases resale value of a home.
What's a wood that won't expand? I think the standard wood for cabinets is birch. For white color cabinets we will have to choose level 3 or 4 wood, which is walnut, oak, and cherry.
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  #9  
Old 2019-11-20, 02:15 PM
BiteSizeThumb BiteSizeThumb is offline
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What builder are you with? If it's Cardel, I can give you a ton of tips. I just took possession in August. As for Halo pot lights. Halo is a brand. I believe all new builders use flat face recessed pot lights now which is what the HALO ones are.

My biggest regrets:

Structural upgrades. I wish I did 9ft ceilings on the 2nd floor and basement.

I also wish I added more switches to a separate light: i.e., one switch turns on all the lights in my ensuite. I wish I added a separate switch to control just the light above the bath tub and just the pot light above the shower.

I also wish I added more CAP LIGHTS (not pot lights). I realized how easy it was to install and wire pot lights because they're all slim bulbs and efficient. The builder charged me $250 per pot light plus height fee for 2nd floor, but only $25 per cap. I ended up wiring an additional 25 pot lights throughout the house myself and it cost me $12 a pot light plus power cable.

Soft close drawers. I paid I think $50-100 per drawer. I later found the exact attachment they used on Amazon for $10 each and added them in all my bathrooms really easily. Could have saved quite a bit.

My greatest success:

8ft tall doors on 9ft main floor. Small and kind of expensive ($250 per door is what I was charged) but drastic difference in feeling and looks, and also something you can't really do easily later.

Stand alone tub. Just makes the ensuite look SO much better.

More lights in the garage. I added two more capped lights in the garage and then later installed the large flat panel ones from Costco. Makes a huge difference!

Add outlets at the side of the garage and plan for power for a side-mount jackshaft garage door opener. Significantly makes a difference in the loudness of a garage door opener and it also reduces noise for the bedrooms above the garage.

Valence lighting. It's expensive, but it makes a big difference in looks.

Upgraded door handles to black. After calculating how many doors I had and how much it would be later, it pretty much evens out. Additionally, the builder changes the door hinges and door stop black as well. That's one thing that adds up more than what they quote you when doing it yourself

We upgraded only the hall ways on the 2nd floor. That was only about $2500 for us. We left the bedrooms carpet because 1) it was like another $8k and 2) we like warm felling carpets in our bedroom.

Last edited by BiteSizeThumb; 2019-11-20 at 02:37 PM.
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  #10  
Old 2019-11-20, 02:36 PM
BiteSizeThumb BiteSizeThumb is offline
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Originally Posted by sjla View Post
What's a wood that won't expand? I think the standard wood for cabinets is birch. For white color cabinets we will have to choose level 3 or 4 wood, which is walnut, oak, and cherry.
If it's with Deslaurier, Oak is standard but can't be painted correctly, only stained. So they make you pay for an upgrade to Maple or MDF as that is paintable.

Last edited by BiteSizeThumb; 2019-11-28 at 12:19 PM.
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