It helps if you have your priorities firmly set before you learn what the options are. That way, you’ll know right away what fits into your plan and what’s just a tempting perk. Most homeowners try to stay focused on one or two priorities like functionality or return on investment.
Ask yourself “will this upgrade make my kitchen more functional?” For the high-end dishwasher the answer may well be yes! But for the knotty alder cabinets, not so much.
If ROI drives your choices, ask “will this upgrade increase the return on my investment?” Springing for the energy-efficient appliances will pay you back right away. And those knotty alder cabinets? Unless you count daily personal joy, the ROI is negligible.
Here are 20 more upgrades that are well worth the investment.
#1 Trash Compactor and Recycling Drawer
A place for everything and everything in its place is a good mantra to apply here. If you have a place for your recyclables, you’ll be grateful for it multiple times a day when you don’t have to walk out to the recycle bin. As for the trash compactor, imagine a life where you only take the trash out once a week instead of nearly every day.
#2 Kitchen Sink Disposal in Both Sinks
One disposal is handy, but how often do you find yourself dumping peelings into the wrong side of the sink? Put a disposal into both sides and eliminate the problem.#3 Raise the Fireplace and Hearth
In large rooms with vaulted ceilings, raising the height of the fireplace and hearth makes the room feel a bit less bottom-heavy.
#4 Raise the Cabinets
Whether or not you have tall ceilings in your kitchen, take the cabinets all the way to the ceiling. Turn that empty space into storage—you won’t be sorry.
#5 Home Audio Wiring
Even if you don’t have the speakers for a home theater yet, if you love a good movie night at home, take advantage of this upgrade now before the walls are finished.
#6 Walk-Out Basement
If you’ve got a basement, do yourself a favor and put in an exit. You also have the option of installing a window where the door would go and retrofitting a door later.
There’s nothing like natural light and lest you think you can add these later, doing it now will include a warranty against leaks, where it might not later on.
#8 Task Lighting
Can there be too much light? Most new homeowners lament that they don’t have enough light so go ahead and say yes to the under cabinet lighting. Specific lighting makes the work of the kitchen much easier.
#9 Light Switches
Speaking of lighting, 3-way light switches are a fabulous upgrade. That means that you can turn lights on and off from more than one location, which is especially helpful if you have an open floor plan. Walk around your floor plan in your mind and think about where you will be making your entrances and exits and where you want the light so you’ll put them in the most convenient places.
#10 Accent Lighting
Don’t forget about accent lighting. Recessed lighting, often called can or pot lights, isn’t so much for basic lighting or task lighting, but it is great for mood. The right lighting can make a big difference in how your home feels. Functionality is one thing, but don't forget about atmosphere.
#11 Outdoor Planning
Have big plans for a backyard oasis but can’t spare the funds right now? That’s ok. Invest a little now and a little later by taking care of the guts and plumbing then adding the rest when you’re ready. Put in 220 outlets now if you’re planning on a hot tub. Run a gas line for your grill or fire pit. Put 110 outlets in the eaves for holiday lights.
#12 Basement Windows
The more windows you can get in the basement, the better, especially in the bathroom. When you’re underground, a little fresh air circulation and natural light make a big difference. This is not something that is easy to do later, so definitely opt for this upgrade.
#13 Master Bath
The master suite is your sanctuary. But you’ll find that it falls last on the list when it comes to making upgrades later. Give yourself a break and make your bathroom what you want it to be now. Put in that jetted tub or steam shower. Splurge on the rain showerhead—you deserve it.
#14 Floors in High-Traffic Areas
Having the right floors in the kitchen is a necessity, but consider other high-traffic areas. The busiest places in your house will wear out the fastest so why put down flooring that you know is going to take a beating. Extend your wood or tile floors into hallways and entryways.
Saving this project until later is problematic because it is more difficult than it seems to match new tile to existing tile years down the road. Take this upgrade now and save yourself the hassle.
#15 Granite Countertops
Some builders are making granite countertops standard now, but if you’re not one of the lucky ones, buy the upgrade to get it. It’s an expense that is big enough that you probably won’t upgrade until it’s time to remodel your kitchen. Don't make yourself wait that long.
#16 Outlets Inside
Are there ever enough outlets? Even if there are, they are always in weird places. Request extra outlets in the places that are the most convenient like the pantry, the command center, and desk area.
If you have the space, opt to add another car space to the garage. You’ll want the extra space for storage. Or if you’ve got the storage under control, you can turn it into a workshop, craft area, or bring in those jet skis you’ve always wanted.
While we’re on the topic, another garage upgrade you should definitely take is external door. Making another exit is always a good idea and opens up all sort of functionality options too.
#18 Raise the Roof
Well, actually, the ceilings, not the roof. Some builders offer to raise ceilings as much as a foot on the inside of your home. Even 12 vertical inches can make the space feel much larger than it is.
#19 Moldings and Trim
It actually costs more to start with basic trims then replace them later than it does to just splurge on the crown molding you want. Save yourself the time and money, do it now.
#20 Ceiling Fans
Adding ceiling fans later may seem pretty simple, but there are structural elements that make this a good upgrade to take on now. You’ll need the room wired and braced correctly—both of which are best done during initial construction. You can always wait to install the fans until later, but get the structural work done at the start.