(Closed) New Home Build Through National Builder – Your Experience Please!

posted 5 years ago in Home
Post # 3
110 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: MGM Grand Skyline Terrace


I had my home built by a national builder, Taylor Morrison, about 2 years ago. 

My base price was $147k. I only spent $3K on upgrades because I read that people over pay for upgrades on new homes and that’s what builders count on. Looking in my neighborhood now, I find that to be very true. 

My build time was about 6 months. I signed my contract in April and was able to move in late October. 

I was SUPER involved. I had been dreaming about this home for years. I knew what I wanted. I asked for an island and they threw it in for free. My house was the smallest floor plan and they had no problem doing that. I could pick which direction my inside doors would swing, cabinet colors (not just type of wood), carpet thickness, tile color, etc., all for free. I also changed my master tub to a super shower; this wasn’t free but the cost was minimal. 

So my biggest regret, funny enough, is that I hadn’t been so CHEAP with upgrades. I researched but the fact is, unless you get estimates before you go to the Design Center, you never know whether it’s more cost effective to have the builder upgrade you or hire after the fact. I ended up paying thousands less on upgrading my floor after the fact (I wanted wood, not tile). On the other hand, a pool would’ve only cost $15K during the building phase, and the same sized pool will cost $25K+ through a regular contractor now. Also, I could’ve upgraded to the highest quality wood for only $750 for the whole house (!!!!) and I declined thinking I was being suckered. Nope. It’ll cost a minimum of $5K to upgrade now, and that’s with DIY installation. There are a few other things I cheaped out on, but they’re not worth mentioning. 

Overall though, I actually did the right thing because only 2 years later, I’m moving out to live with my fiancé so my house is super attractive to buyers with my price. I’m $20K lower than the next lowest price in my neighborhood. My neighbors spent a lot on upgrades. I’m one of the few houses without a pool and upgraded tile and cabinets. Those things look nice but my realtor told me that upgrades don’t factor into home value so buyers hesitate to pay a premium for them. 

Also, I’m on the opposite end of you! I’m a single person living in a very family oriented neighborhood. I’m not a fan. It is easy to meet other families from what I see. Since we all moved into our “phase” within a relatively close period, we all got to know each other quickly. There are parks, neighborhood sponsored activities, etc. If your builder is big enough, you’ll probably get a school too. They built a school this year less than a mile from my house, in my subdivision. Taylor Morrison provided funding. 

I LOVE owning a new home. I’ve convinced my FH to do the same when we buy together. I’m super excited because now I know that if I want more upgrades, I’ll buy low then upgrade and build a pool, have premium wood, add backyard landscaping, etc. I don’t ever want to buy the most expensive plan then upgrade, especially after seeing how it effects resale. 

Post # 4
427 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2016

We are currently in the middle of the build. The foundation was poured end of June/early July and they are starting to drywall now. We are hoping to be in for Jan/Feb (they have been trouble getting inspections done because there has been so much development in our area!). 

We did A LOT of research on upgrades and ended up spending just shy of $10,000. The most expensive upgrade was air conditioning and then we got things like blinds and window screens. We looked at things like upgrading carpeting but opted not to when we looked at what we were getting vs. resale value. I don’t know what it’s like in your area, but here, you walk into a show home and everything is labelled “upgrade”. Nothing comes standard- the standard stuff is garbage. Our builder puts in verh high quality things to begin with, so we didn’t need to upgrade a lot. However, in order to keep costs down, they also don’t “customize”, which we found frustrating because we feel like we are building our home from scratch and should be able to add the things we want now so it is easier. We asked them to add a rain shower head in the bathroom and they said no, and we wanted a utility sink in the garage but the price was extortionate so we are going to do it ourselves. The two things we agreed were 100% must haves that we passed with the builder and decided to source ourselves were the basement (builder quoted $20,0000 to finish and my friend’s dad who is a contractor quoted us $10,000) and the fence (builder quoted us $4000 and we got a quote for $3000). 

Post # 6
2108 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

We’re in the middle of building right now! The builder wasn’t suuuper flexible when it came to changing the floorplan and a few other things, which was frustrating, but we won out on the things that mattered. Most of the denials we faced were because of our strict HOA. 

They started in early September (a delay from our original July 1st start due to massive flooding in the area, then an issue with line location.) and have just finished our roof and are about to start on drywall. We will move in probably the first week of January. They’ve really been quick on our house because it got such a late start. 

We spent a lot on upgrades because it was really important to us- we plan on staying in that house until we have our second baby and we’re still a little under 3 years away from starting TTC. Our neighborhood seems to be all young families, which is awesome! We knew it would be when we picked it though, because they build little parks and fountain play areas every few streets.

We upgraded the kitchen counters to granite and removed nearly all the carpeting in the house (we only left the bedrooms, not even closets carpeted) because we really don’t like carpet. We earned a credit for removing the carpet, which we used to upgrade the tile. We were able to pick the wood, style, and color of our cabinets. If I recall correctly, all the woods and colors were the same price but we paid more for the beadboard style of cabinet. In the kitchen, we also convinced them to brick a wall, which was a huge weeks-long fight but was something we weren’t going to budge on. We could have bricked it ourselves, yes, but we wanted to use the same brick as the exterior of our house and wanted to make sure the lot matched. In the end, they finallyyyyyy agreed to do it and only charged us something like $250, which I found totally crazy. They put up such a stink for such a little amount of money!! Our other biggest fight also had to do with the kitchen. We wanted a very specific kitchen faucet that the builder didn’t offer, so we bought it ourselves. They wouldn’t install it for us, that’s fine, we can do that. But the sink we wanted was a one-hole sink and they typically install a sprayer, so they primarily use 2-hole sinks. It took a month of back and forth before they finally agreed to just drill one hole for the sink. Less work for them!

We upgraded the counters in the bathrooms to marble. We also upgraded to have a pretty tile pattern we designed on the walls around the bathtubs.

Anyways, we upgraded a lot, but the things we think made the biggest difference were:

  • we extended the garage a few feet so we had room to install cabinets
  • a plenum air filter (this I don’t 100% understand, it was DH’s wish. I think it puts the return air vent/filter in the attic so you don’t have that return air grille visible in your house)
  • single bowl kitchen sink (sooo much easier to clean bigger things in a single bowl)
  • a storm shelter- we don’t have basements where we live but we looked at prices and to put the same storm shelter in after the house was done was thousands more


Post # 7
1710 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

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1. We spent about 4% of the base price on upgrades (The builder had good standard stuff – already had ceramic tile and hardwood as standards, we got a free upgrade on the hardwood too so it was a better quality). They had a promotion going on when we bought that you could get a free gas fireplace OR free AC (we chose the AC).

2. Length of time – we bought in October and our house was finished on time (April).

3. Our builder was open to customizing floor plans if you wanted (we did not customize, as it was too costly!).

4. Make sure you go in during the building of your house (we went about 2 times a week when the workers were gone so we could check it out – it’s good we did this because my husband caught 2 major mistakes, one of which benefitted us! They poured a tile shower base when it was supposed to just be a one-piece shower, so we got an awesome tiled shower with glass door for free! Usually a $5000 upgrade).

5. We have made friends with our neighbours, they are both young couples like us. We’re having one of them over for drinks in a couple weeks and have been to their place for drinks too. We were the first house built on our side of the street so we had to wait awhile for neighbours !

Post # 8
257 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2015

My experience was about 100 years ago, but hopefully something I share can help…

1. We spent about 15% of the base price on upgrades. We upgraded things that would be difficult to change once the walls were up – we pre-wired for EVERYTHING, added a bedroom, changed some walls. The builder grade carpet was crap, but the agent we worked with said “Do you really want to pay for carpet for 30 years?” We decided no. So we bought with the cheap carpet and within a couple of years when it needed to be upgraded, we had the cash to pay for it.

2. I honestly don’t remember – maybe 6 months? They were on point with the estimate they gave us though.

3. Had very limited custom options… for example, you could upgrade to add a bedroom or change a bathroom, but I couldn’t have made a pantry… wasn’t an option.

4. I second pp on visitng worksite. We visited often and took pictures throughout. When we later had some work done before we sold the house, the pictures of the house without drywall were very helpful because we skipped the “open the wall to see what’s in there” expenses. I could show them where all the wiring was, where the stuff flowed to and from, etc.

5. Lots of young families starting out, so that was great for us. We had lots of “block parties” at the beginning and there were always kids out playing and making friends. Over time, that diminished, but for the first 5+ years, it was a very family friendly, fun place!

Post # 9
110 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: MGM Grand Skyline Terrace

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yorp127:  you’re welcome! I’m glad I could help! 

Yes, there was no charge to change finish color for wood, flooring, or counters. The charges only came with change of materials if that makes sense. So I chose not to upgrade the counters to granite because the price was way too much, but I chose a granite look-alike laminate for no charge. It wasn’t the standard option. I could’ve chosen any color laminate for free, but if I’d wanted marble or granite or Quartz, there was a surcharge. Same with cabinets; I could choose any color for free, but if I wanted any other wood but oak, there was an extra charge.

The bathroom and the kitchen were where you could customize the most, from what I experienced. I think that’s because that’s where people tend to spend most of the money, anyway. In these areas, I could add/upgrade almost everything. I ended up requesting 3 light boxes above my breakfast bar because it was only $60 apiece. In the bathroom, I could’ve added a door, chose to add a tub or keep the tub/shower combo (I requested the space just be a shower so my shower is huge). I also chose the size, color, and type of tile for the bathroom for a minimum charge. I could choose the style (French swinging, French sliding, etc.) and size of the doors that led to the patio. I can’t think of a single thing in the bathroom or kitchen that couldn’t be upgraded. 

Post # 10
1354 posts
Bumble bee

We’ve built two houses in our lives. My advice is to be on top of them, every day!!! We visited the build site daily after work, and thankfully were able to catch the fact that they had put a flat roof on our family room, over the garage when it was supposed to be vaulted. We paid for the vault and it was in the plans, but just one example. They had to pull the roof off and re do it. Had we not visited for a week, they could have had the drywall already up!!! I’ve also renovated a vacation condo, and again, same advice: stay on top of them! It’s amazing the little things that they overlook, or are too lazy to complete properly! The upside is you get exactly what you want and it’s awesome to see the finished product once it’s all done!!! Good luck!!!!

Post # 11
144 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2017

Is the national build a company? I tried looking up the company to see floor plans and such and didn’t find anything.

Post # 12
31 posts
  • Wedding: April 2019

Depending on the area and starting base price, in my experience, average upgrades run around $20K. I recommend waiting for the builder to offer an incentive you can’t refuse. You should expect your build to take 3-4 months from ground breaking with about a month and a half from signing contract to starting the home.

Post # 14
1354 posts
Bumble bee

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yorp127:  Yes we loved the vaulted ceiling! Totally worth the extra price! We only did it in the family room over the garage, not our bedroom but it made the room feel so much bigger and grander!!!! If you’re out of town, definitely enlist family and friends to check up on your house for you. In the two houses we’ve built and the one condo we’ve reno’d, there were things that were done wrong, or shoddily or not at all!!!! Just stay on top of them as much as you can to make sure they’re not cutting any corners!!!! ! Good luck!!!!!! 

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