The best (and worst) preconstruction townhome upgrades for resale value

There are so many ways to customize your preconstruction townhouse when it comes time to select upgrades, it can feel a bit like being a kid in a candy store. But the bank is boss—and the boss says you’ve got a limited budget. Where should you invest your money in upgrades so you get the best resale value? And what townhome upgrades should you avoid? Here’s our advice.


Best upgrade #1: Hardwood stairs

Why? People love hardwood stairs, and there’s no economical way to upgrade your stairs from carpet-grade later. You’ll be stuck paying a contractor, with the accompanying mess, fuss and cost of a major renovation. Even if you don’t upgrade to hardwood flooring throughout your home now, you may decide to add it later—and we’ve seen the disappointment of townhome owners whose beautiful wooden floors end at carpeted stairs.

What’s the cost? $2500 to $3500 for the stairs and finishing. The price depends on the size and layout of the home.

Things to keep in mind? Oak is the most cost-effective hardwood—maple will cost you another $2000 and you won’t get that back on resale. Keep the design of the stairs simple to appeal to the broadest number of buyers. A plain, square balustrade is the most versatile.


Best upgrade #2: Basement rough-in for a bathroom

Why? Today’s families can never have enough bathrooms. A basement bathroom may not be on today’s wish list, but who knows in two to three years? Once the basement has been poured and pipes have been terminated, the cost to rough-in a bathroom quadruples.

What does it cost? Under $1000.

Things to keep in mind? Many builders work with their architect to pre-determine the best location for a basement bathroom. If that’s not the case, make sure you look at the floor plan carefully and choose the location based both on aesthetics and functionality. It only costs a few hundred dollars more to rough-in a three-piece bath rather than a powder room, so spend the money. Even if you don’t want the shower or tub, it may seal the deal for the next owner.


Best upgrade #3: Kitchen storage

Why? Kitchens are a huge selling feature, and it pays to optimize space in townhomes. The best kitchen upgrades for storage are extended height upper cabinets (which add storage and make the entire kitchen look more sophisticated), a pantry, and pot and pan drawers.

What’s the cost? This varies depending on the size of the kitchen and the type of upgrade. Count on a starting cost of $1000.

Things to keep in mind? Kitchen upgrades can be expensive. Use your décor consultant to help you maximize kitchen space based on your home’s floor plan and minimize your upfront cost.


Best upgrade #4: Pot lights

Why? A well-lit home is wonderful to come home to and offers a custom and sophisticated first impression when it comes time to sell. If you wait to put pot lights in after your townhouse is built, you’ll need a licensed electrician to wire the lights behind drywall, which is expensive and messy.

What’s the cost? $200 to $300 each, depending on whether the lights are halogen or LED.

Things to keep in mind? To keep costs down, think carefully about the location of your pot lights. Put them in key areas where lighting is a strategic advantage, particularly the kitchen and the front entrance hall.

Now for the “worst” list. Of course, “worst” is relative. If you have an unlimited budget, there’s no such thing as a bad upgrade for resale, as long as it’s tasteful and doesn’t price your unit out of the market. But most of us, sadly, do have to spend carefully on upgrades. The following four are the least cost-effective to purchase from your builder.


Worst upgrade #1: Paint colour

Why it’s not recommended. Standard paint colours are universally appealing neutrals, and if you’re going for resale value they’re the best choice. If you decide later to paint a feature wall or change up an entire room, you can easily do it yourself for the cost of paint and brushes.


Worst upgrade #2: Hardwood

Why it’s not recommended. If you’re on a tight budget, hardwood flooring is something that can be added down the road. Spend your money now on upgrades that can’t be easily added after your home has been built.


Worst upgrade #3: Upgraded kitchen countertops

Why it’s not recommended. Like hardwood flooring, new countertops can be added later without a lot of inconvenience or mess. Also, expensive countertops can be risky in terms of resale, since colour and material choice are very personal, and some buyers will object to paying a premium for something they don’t like.


Worst upgrade #4: Fancy fixtures

Why it’s not recommended. You can add faucets and light fixtures down the road yourself, when you’ll have the advantage of an unlimited number of suppliers and can shop for deals. If your goal is to keep your townhome resale-friendly, you’ll want to keep fixtures simple to broaden their appeal.


DiCenzo Homes is proud to help value-conscious buyers find homes they’ll love. Let us introduce you to our latest townhome project, the Foothills of Winona, which combines the country quiet of greenbelt living with the convenience of a home only minutes from the QEW.


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