Most common house plan upgrades

by Genius Homes

With so many choices on offer, deciding what upgrades to go with for your new home can be overwhelming. From creating a kitchen your friends will envy to upgrading the finish in the bathrooms there are dozens of places where upgrades to a home can be made. If you’re on a limited budget then identifying the locations to best invest can be incredibly challenging. 

When allocating your budget to upgrades, there are two main categories to place your priorities; structural and non-structural changes. Doing so will help you understand the cost implications and the value such a change may make.

Structural upgrades affect the parts offering engineering strength to your home and need to be decided upon and signed off before the build process starts. These types of upgrades are also more costly and can cause problems down the road if you decide to make changes once your new home has been built. They will often need to be signed off by a specialist and approved by the council, a process which is easier when done early! Non-structural upgrades, on the other hand, are more cosmetic and can often be added or changed later on, at a cost of course! If your budget is open to more non-structural upgrades, having these included right from the start will save you money in the long-term, or they could be put on a long-term wishlist. 

The key is to outline what additions to your design will complement your lifestyle, making it easier and more enjoyable, while spending money that will add the most value to your home.

In this blog, we will explore the most typical house plan upgrades that we see regularly, along with some of the options that you may like to consider when choosing your home’s options and upgrades. 

The Kitchen 

Known as the heart of the home, the kitchen is one place you should be mindful of if you’re planning to save a few extra dollars. It’s one of the rooms in your home that you’ll spend the most time in, and if you decide to sell, it is one of the first places potential buyers will look. A bad kitchen will put off buyers or tenants so think twice before skimping in this area. 

Investing in additional cupboards for storage is a common upgrade and one that you will never regret. The most popular options for additional storage is the inclusion of a scullery. It lets you expand the size and capacity of your kitchen, perfect for larger homes and families while adding a cool extra feature. This is definitely a feature to add early in the planning phase as the addition of walls is a structural change and using some of the kitchen space may affect the flow of the entire house.

Other popular features in a kitchen include an island with a breakfast bar. Positioned well this can become a focal point of the house and as several include sinks this can involve reworking the plumbed water plans for a home. This is another feature that’s best added early! 

There are differing opinions on whether you should splurge on upgraded appliances or shop for them later. This decision should probably be driven by your budget, but you do want to make sure that the appliances you choose are energy-efficient, helping you save long term. While walls and plumbing sit in the structural category appliances can feature in the non-structural and are easy to change at a later date. Consider focusing your budget on tiles, countertops and cabinetry over fridges and dishwashers at this stage.

Additional Lighting

Of course, all new home builds come with lighting but it is important to take note of the standard lighting options and whether your space could benefit from additional lighting points. Places like the kitchen and bathrooms benefit the most from additional lighting consideration as these are key functional rooms in the home. Lights don’t just add warmth to a space, but they are also very practical touches. 

Lighting upgrades don’t need to just be functional aesthetically pleasing and feature lights can really make a room pop. Pendants over the island in the kitchen, LED mirror lighting in the bathroom or even feature lighting in the master bedroom can turn your room into an oasis and can all add to the experience of your home making it more enjoyable. 

Because lighting requires wiring plans and certification to be drawn up this is certainly something to consider at the early stages of your home’s design. Bundle into this your electrical points and make sure they’re in places where appliances and electronics will need power to avoid costly additions later.

Adding padding to your carpet

Upgrading your carpet from the standard inclusion is not as common as you may think. However, upgrading the padding underneath (called underlay) will help make your carpet feel more cushy and luxurious. This upgrade option offers added value without the need to spend a ton of money.

When you get home you probably take your shoes off and wander through barefoot. How much nicer and homely does a nice soft carpet feel? If you have dogs or children then upgrading the carpet to something more durable might also be a way of adding long-term value to your home.

It’s also common for people to add carpet to their garage, but as this can be done at a later stage (if you don’t mind emptying the garage) it should be low on the priority list and kicked if another structural upgrade is required.


With 92% of households having at least one car, New Zealand has one of the highest car ownership rates in the world. Real Estate companies say homes with a garage is a popular feature when it comes to marketing a home, One Roof and Valocity dug into the data to see what it’s worth. “In many locations, prices for properties with garages were in line with median values - in other words having a garage is the normal market expectation,” says Valocity’s director of valuation, James Wilson.

Outside the main urban areas, houses without a garage were between 9% and 11% lower than the median house. Wilson attributes that to buyer expectation that in more spread out locations, where there are no public transport alternatives to driving, a garage is the market expectation. 

Garages can fit into either the structural or non-structural category, depending on your requirements. A built-in garage with internal access is structural and needs to be considered early and included in the planning documents. However, you can add a standalone garage at any time after the house is built.

Tiling in the bathroom and master ensuite

Nothing screams luxury more than beautiful tiles. Bathroom flooring options can be found in a wide range of options. Vinyl tiles are often designed to mimic ceramic tiles, however, these materials feature entirely different substances and have many different characteristics when it comes to installation, maintenance, and real estate value.

When talking about the resale value of a home and flooring options vinyl flooring is usually recognised as an economy option whereas ceramic or porcelain floor tiles are viewed as a more premium option by real estate professionals and prospective homebuyers. A well-maintained ceramic tile floor will always have more prestige and greater real estate value than vinyl tile floorings.

Exterior cladding

When it comes to keeping your home weathertight and maintenance-free the exterior cladding matters. But it’s also the look of the exterior of your home that can stop people in their tracks. Deciding on the types of cladding options can be a tough decision and can be one of the more agonising decisions for a new home builder. For a more in-depth breakdown of the types of cladding options at Genius Homes, you can check out a previous blog article on the subject here

In short, there are three different options. The standard option, which uses the Weathertex range of finishes, the premium cladding option, from the Colorsteel™ Maxx® range, and feature options, which are usually popular with statement walls and homes. Then can include wood exterior options like cedar or even macrocarpa.

Each option is best suited to different environments, with the Colorsteel™ Maxx® range having been specifically created for the higher atmospheric salt conditions and geothermal areas and can be used for cladding, roofing and gutters. If you’re unsure of the best cladding options for your site talk to a member of the team.


Maximising your view, or the orientation of the site in relation to the sun is a key consideration to factor in. You may want extra privacy from neighbours or to capture the sunrise from the master bedroom. Regardless of your desired outcome, it’s important to consider the location, size and type of windows used.

Windows with extra insulation, like a thermal break, could be ideal for cold locations while hotter climates may wish for additional UV protection. Stacker doors, extra height glass and privacy glass should be discussed early in the build process as replacing them at a later date could be costly. 


We hope that you found this blog helpful. Staying on top of your budget when there are so many options to choose from can be difficult, but just remember if you prioritise your decisions correctly, you will be able to focus on spending your money on the things that add the most value to your home, both for when you live in it and when you’re ready to sell it.

If you would like to visit our factory to view the range of prefab homes making their way through production then you can book a factory tour at a convenient time that suits you. Simply click on the link below. 

Book a guided tour with Genius Homes!

filed under Building Options

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