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Two Trips to the Design Center

So, remember when I mentioned in a previous blog that our awesome realtor managed to negotiate a $90,000 incentive deal for our new home? Well, we were beyond elated when we received our appointment to go and meet with an award-winning designer at the Design Center who would be responsible for assisting us in selecting flooring, lighting, fixtures, cabinetry, faucets, counter tops, door handles, light switches – basically all of those things that would make up the inside of your home.  Unicorns were floating all around and we had stars in our eyes, because we felt that $90,000 would help us to build that showcase model home we fell in love with and ultimately made the decision to have built. Well, we walked into that design center needing to be awakened and walked out woke!

We were given about two appointment slots which were 3-4 hours in length to meet with a designer at the Design center. These appointments were free, however there would be an additional charge for any additional appointments with the designer. So, if you don’t make all your design selections within those two meetings you were assigned, then expect to pay extra. We managed to make all our selections within the two meetings we were given.  At the first meeting, we were advised to make selections for all segments of the house – without notice of cost – and then arrive at our second meeting where we would pair-down our list. As we went down the home worksheet making our selections, we were starting to feel very disheartened at the markups of items that we wanted for our home.  The $90,000 incentive wasn’t enough to cover desired selections for a home that’s a little over 5,000 square feet. The experience went from exciting to sobering.

We were quickly schooled on how profits are sourced to production builders – it’s through the design centers and the fees generated for extra design meetings.  While you do indeed gain a discount in having your home built with a production builder versus a more expensive custom builder, your experience can quickly go south when faced with the price markup items deemed to be an upgrade but should be standard. As things turned out, we were able to make our in-home design decisions within the meager two free meetings offered to us. We reviewed our worksheet prior to the second meeting and trimmed down some of our wants in place of standard items, with the intention of making modifications after the final building of our home.

There’s a bit of a slime factor that takes place in the way some builders draw you in with model homes that are upgraded to the hilt, leading you to believe that the dream before you is possible. You may ask something like, “Is this an upgrade? How much would this cost us? They’re never certain of the exact price but will spit out a seemingly reasonable figure and offer offered design center incentives, meant to offset the cost of the upgrades you’re eyeballing at their model home. But there are ways to still get a beautiful production home on the cheap – we did it. Decide which items you could have a contractor to build or upgrade for you (after your home close) and opt for the standard builder selections. Utilize the design incentives given to you by the builder for the all the other items. Depending upon your must-haves, you still may end up paying some money to the design center for upgrades, but at least you would have the option of gaining some savings in hiring a contractor after moving into your new home. This was our scenario as there were design items we elected to have the builder provide for us versus a contractor.

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