I believe things that are difficult to change you should spend more money on and things that are easy to change you should save on. I also believe in return on investment, if an item takes 30 years to pay itself off then I am not interested. On the other side, I believe that if an item truly makes you happy, then you should spend money on it. Here is my opinion on where you should spend vs. save while building a house.
This is the reason why our home is more expensive than a wood framed home. After living in our rental for two winters, we wanted to invest in the shell of our home. Heating and cooling is a large expense for Ottawa residents since we experience such extremes in temperature. Reducing our monthly expenses is a high priority.
Changing the exterior of your home is a costly and time-consuming. I would never buy a home with stone or brick that I disliked since I would see it every day and is not something easily changed or updated. When searching for stone, I knew I wanted it be grey, within budget and in a simple pattern.
I have painted walls with low quality paint too many times to know that you get what you pay for. I will only paint this house with Benjamin Moore paint. You save time and have a nicer finish. Washing walls that have been painted in a high-quality paint is much easier as well.
We are spending almost $8000 on our fireplace. This is one of those items that makes me happy, so I am willing to spend the money on it. Having a safe, high efficiency wood fireplace was top on my wish list. Not only will it be the focal point of our great room, it will also supplement our heating costs.
I believe in natural materials. They are timeless and sustainable (if collected in a responsible way). Within reason, I think you should splurge on natural materials like slate/marble tile, wool carpet and hardwood over synthetic materials like laminate, ceramic, vinyl, or nylon carpets.
As much as we wanted our home to have a geothermal furnace or solar panels or even triple pane windows, the return on investment did not make sense. The upfront cost of these items is so large that their ROI does not happen for decades. This is our forever home… as long as we can afford it. Since our goal is to pay off this mortgage in 10 years (by the time I am 40) I could not justify tripling the cost of something and paying interest on it. We bought the best quality we could afford (York high efficiency furnace, used double pane windows and ICF construction) and when these items need replacing, we will upgrade to the latest green technology.
Light fixtures go out of style so quickly that it does not make sense to purchase expensive fixtures from boutiques. Light fixtures can dramatically improve a space however the wide selection at big box stores makes it easy to find something that reflects your personal style while fitting into your budget. Adding to that, since they reflect personal taste so much, the person purchasing your home will likely change them to reflect their style. They are relatively easy to change which allows you to follow trends easier.
This is debatable as home improvement articles suggest spending money on your kitchen doubles or even triples your investment. I agree with this to an extent. Having certain traits to your kitchen increases the value however I do not think you should break the bank. I think you should get the best that you can afford in neutral colours. Here are the traits in your kitchen that I think you should invest in:
- Solid wood doors (no Ikea door is made fully of real wood; natural materials reflect quality to me)
- White Kitchen Cabinets
- Natural stone countertops (no one will know if you spent $3000 on quartz countertops or $30,000)
- Stainless steel appliances
I put floors in save and spend because I think you should get the best you can afford but within reason. I am searching for a matte hardwood that is at least 4” or 5” wide and is made and harvested in Canada or USA. We will probably purchase the flooring from a big box store and am hoping to get it within the $5 per square foot range.