When you decide to buy a new home based on viewing a model home, remember that this is not the actual house that you will be living in. Most model homes have been improved with options and decorations for presentation purposes.

Ask your builder and/or salesperson about the following common new home features—are they standard or upgrades? If upgrades, what is the additional cost, and what is the standard feature like?

Inside

  • Windows (including bay windows, accent and transom windows)—quality, glazing, low-E coating, material and locks
  • Exterior doors—quality, material, sidelights
  • Trim (windows, doors and baseboards)—plain or colonial, natural or painted
  • Paint (interior or exterior)—type, quality and colours
  • Patio door—width, quality, glazing, low-E coating, material
  • Carpet and underpad—quality, material, weight, colours, backing, manufacturer's warranty
  • Linoleum and vinyl flooring—quality, colours, patterns
  • Ceramic tiles (floor and walls) in bathrooms, kitchen and entryway—colours, patterns and finish (for instance non-skid)
  • Kitchen cupboards—materials, counter tops, dividers, pot drawers, "Lazy Susans", wine rack, microwave oven shelf, sinks and faucets
  • Bathroom fixtures—colours and quality
  • Separate shower stall, Roman-tub and/or whirlpool baths
  • Vanities, pedestal sinks, mirrors over vanities
  • Towel bars, soap dish, etc.—quality, material and colour
  • Electrical fixtures—where and what kind
  • Fireplace—type, doors, trim, hearth
  • Staircase (spindles, handrails and risers)—material

Outside

  • Cladding—brick front, two-tone brick, cornerstones
  • Porch and patio—size, material, finish
  • Decorative touches (shutters, trim)
  • Driveway and walkways-gravel, paving, interlocking brick
  • Landscaping—trees, sod in front and back
  • Exterior lights
  • House numbers
  • Mail box
  • Doorknocker and kickplate for door
  • Know what you are getting for your money. Discuss specifications and options with your builder upfront to eliminate surprises, disappointments and disagreements down the road.
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