Last year we began the (sometimes painful) process of having a home built by a local contractor, and it was not long before we began getting the classic upsells that come with having a home built. As first-time homeowners, it was genuinely confusing. We wanted to be able to trust our contractor explicitly, but we also recognized that they were running a business, and most businesses come with a few pushes toward unnecessary upsells.
Lucky for us, we have a few family members who are retired contractors who helped us see which upsells were worth it and which ones we should walk on. And no, lucky for you, we're sharing what we learned.
Materials and finishes matter in your home, to a degree. One really common upsell in home building is charging a premium price for a 'higher-quality' material. Do your research though and find out what really makes material worth more and look for a less expensive option that gets the job done.
Does your backsplash really need to be made from hand-painted tiles? Do the inside of your cabinets needs to be made from real oak or will manufacture-wood cabinets get the job done?
There is definitely a time and place to splurge for higher quality materials in your home, but there is also a time and place to save. Just know that when your contractor comes to you with expensive material, calling it premium, you have other options.
Time is a tricky thing with any construction project, big or small. Here's what you need to know about time and the upsell, though. If you are choosing to build during the warmer months and the busy season, your contractor may quote you a higher price. That's not an upsell. That's just your contractor being able to charge more because demand is higher.
If your contractor comes to you and pressures you into a service that needs to be done immediately, that may be an upsell. Very, very few services need to be done immediately—and usually, those rush requests come with a higher price tag.
The Finer Things
There are so many fancy features you can add to your home now, so it's important that you know what you want beforehand. It's really easy to buy into the idea that you can never add those more expensive features later (we've heard our contractor try to get us with this tactic). But the truth is, you can add some of the more advanced features to your home down the road when you have the time and money to do so.
Know your budget and stick to it. And remind yourself that there is a difference between a need and a want. And while it's more than okay to spend money on the things you want, remember that there may be a way to add those things to your home later on. If there isn't a way to add those things to your home later on, you need to find the money in the budget now.
When In Doubt
It's impossible to put up an exhaustive list of every upsell that's going to come your way, so when in doubt, we recommend getting a second and third opinion. Find another contractor who is willing to give you a quote for the job or even just an opinion on the situation. If both other contractors confirm that your contractor is trying to give you an unnecessary upsell, you'll know something is up.
You can also do a little sleuth work yourself. If your contractor is quoting you a crazy price for a premium product, call around and see how much that product costs. The same goes for a service. We saved ourselves a few hundred dollars by calling around and fact-checking claims.
Building a home, or even just renovating a small part of your home, can be stressful, but it's always worth the work in the end. Good luck and happy building!