Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Upgrades – Design Studio

So I wouldn’t say I am cheap, but I would say I am very “value conscious” or “thrifty” or many other synonyms of cheap.

So when the sales manager told us that we would probably be spending at least $20,000 in upgrades I did not believe her as I thought this was only “most people”.

I am telling you that you WILL be spending AT LEAST $20,000 in upgrades.

The positives are they are offering half off on upgrades (for right now at least)… so even if you spend $20,000 you are only actually paying for $10,000… Things like crown molding, granite countertop in the kitchen, nice appliances and hardwood on the living room level are all included automatically.

The negatives are that some of the “Level 0” options (included options) you are going to want to upgrade for sure even if you are cheap.

Some of the things you are definitely going to want to upgrade are:
  • -          The “Level 0” hardwood floors do not look great because of the limited available colors.
  • -          The Level 0 carpets and especially padding are pretty poor. (Only three shades of very thin beige are available.) 
  • -          You cannot get white kitchen cabinets unless you go up to Level 2 which, in the gourmet kitchen, is VERY expensive.   For some folks (like my wife) white cabinets are a must.  Level 0 only includes a few similar shades of light brown.
  • -          If you have the wet bar in the loft, it is comes with laminate for the bar which, in my opinion, should be upgraded.   Keep this in mind when deciding to add the wet bar.
  • -          The great room (living room) does not have ANY overhead lighting included – so you’ll probably add some inset lights.
  • -          Smaller things like a garage door opener are options you pay for when you’d think they would be included.

The thing is I have many co-workers who have built new homes and they have all said their experience was much, much worse.   At least with Stanley Martin you are getting brick in all elevations, crown molding and granite and some other goodies included. 
I think upgrade costs are just a part of the new home purchase process and the experience we had in the design studio was great.  They were very helpful and the process was pretty smooth.

I will detail my selections in the next post. 


  1. Thanks for this info! You mentioned lighting in the great room but what about the other floors (3rd and 4th)? Did you find sufficient Standard lighting there or would this all be considered upgrade?

    1. You are welcome... The hallways and staircases have included recessed lights, but none included in the bedrooms or loft. I just added wiring for ceiling fans in both bedrooms and the loft. I figured I can buy the ceiling fans later for less. Even though I am not handy at all I should be able to install a ceiling fan. 3 ceiling fan hookups with switches was only $525.

  2. We looked at Riverdale last weekend. I find it strange that they will not share option pricing with you until you have signed a contract. We've looked at other developments in the area and the agent shared the entire 28-page list of options, with pricing. I don't know how comfortable I am in signing something without knowing what my bottom line will be. Can you elaborate more on your experience with this regard?

    1. I told them before I signed that I think EVERY SINGLE PERSON is going to have this exact same question. This was our #1 point of contention before we signed as well. The thing is even if you have the list in front of you until you go to the design studio and see what Level 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 look like it is not really going to help you much. I would factor in AT LEAST $10,000 more in price ($20,000 in options) although if you are ok with the base cabinets you may be able to come in lower than that. Cabinet upgrades are one of the most expensive things you can do and that took about 1/3 of our options spending. (we went to level 2)

  3. Hi, looking at buying a Stanley martin home in Landover and have found much info on the web outside of your blog. So thank you so much! I wanted to know where the design studio is located and do they allow the prospective buyers to come in and look through the options even if without prices, it would be nice just to know what is available in each level category?

    1. Hi.. thanks for reading... They did not give me any info until we had signed a contract but I am sure if you really push for this you can get it. The design studio for Riverdale is in Capitol Heights, MD... It may be the same for all of their developments in Maryland but I am not sure.

    2. Thank you for responding so quickly! I am going to the sales office in the community tomorrow and just want to make sure I am prepared and able to conceal my excitement! :-) I have a few other questions if you don't mind: How long was it from the time you visited the sales office and decided to buy to the time you actually signed the initial purchase contract and paid the EMD? Did they pressure you at all during time, maybe saying certain incentives would change or go away? Stupid question but you the EMD was due after signing, not before, right? and were you able to include any contingencies in the contract? If you would rather answer offline my email is crysnov18@gmail.com Any info you are willing to share with me is immensely appreciated as a first time home-buyer! Thanks again!

  4. Also, are there any other blogs that you would recommend that I check out for more info?