5 Tips for Visiting Builder Design Center

Your design center appointment can be fun, exciting, and if done right, you'll walk away feeling in control and staying on budget. There are so many options you can choose from and it can be very overwhelming. Our first time visiting the design studio, I left in tears because I was so frustrated and discouraged.

Today I'm covering 5 tips on how to prepare for your builder design center appointment (so you don't leave in tears like I did).

1. Research as much as you can + Ask for pricing

Knowing in advance how much your wish list is going to cost before you sign your purchase agreement is so important. Many builders do not want to openly share their pricing information with you before hand but I would simply request it. A builder you want to give your hard earned money to will understand that having this knowledge ahead of time will make you more comfortable and confident to move forward with signing the contract. Having the pricing a head a time helped us create our wish list of needs vs. wants that were realistic and within our budget.

2. Find out what comes Standard and what's an Upgrade

Ask questions. Lots and lots of questions!
Our sales consultant was amazing and took us through the model home to show us what came standard and what was an upgrade. If you read our journey of building our dream home, you will know that it took us 22 months of preparation. That was a lot of time to visit model homes and meet with different builders. I discovered that each builder's standard features and incentives vary significantly.

If you can schedule a design studio preview meeting to go and see the standard options in person, I highly recommend it. We visited the design studio a week before our official appointment and picked out our cabinets, LVT floors and carpet. Which I ended up pinning to my Dream Home pinterest board. This helped me stay focused at our design studio appointment and it helped the designer know our style which made choosing the other options so much easier. They normally schedule 2-3 hours for the design appointment. Our appointment took only 40 minutes and with no tears this time.  Boom!

3. Know your budget and stick to it

It's no secret that the design studio can be tempting with all their pretty + shiny things. Oh, so many design options! It's really easy to get caught up in the moment and start adding things and upgrading and the next thing you know you're way over budget. Don't do that to yourself. Go into your design studio appointment with the 'say no' approach. Skip, pass, say no, back away slowly. You don't need a level 5 upgrade on your flooring, carpet or lighting. The builder's options are way over priced anyway and why build a home that's cookie-cutter. You can save so much money by changing the cosmetic stuff later and create a home that's your unique personal style.

Okay, if you remember only one of my tips, it's this one. Just say no! You will thank me for it and so will your budget.

4. Decide what you need now vs. what you can do later

This was a hard one for me since I wanted it all now, but I quickly learned that our budget wouldn't allow it. I think this looks a little different for every family but you do need to talk about it and make your DIY list before you go to your design center appointment. Some of things we chose to DIY later were:

  1. Tile in the Master Bath - $2500 upgrade - We ended up going with the standard shower insert that has built-in shelving which is so much easier to clean. I'm focusing on the positives.
  2. Granite or Quartz Countertops - $3000 upgrade - We chose the standard HD laminate counter tops. I really wanted quartz but it just didn't work for our budget. I figured we can upgrade our counter tops later since it doesn't change how we live. We'll then be able to choose from way more options and pay cash.
  3. Hardwood flooring on the second floor - $5000 upgrade - We kept the standard carpet upstairs and plan to upgrade to hardwood after we live in the house a few years.
  4. Tile flooring in the bathrooms + laundry room - $1500 upgrade - We kept the standard vinyl flooring since the upgraded options weren't even my style. That made the decision very easy. These are all smaller rooms that we can easily change the flooring and make it a fun week-end project.

Knowing what we were going to do as DIY projects later on made it so much easier to say no and skip to the next design option. Believe me, I got pretty good at saying no during this process.

5. Use your phone-a-friend Lifeline

Even though we were super prepared for our design studio appointment, I still needed to use a lifeline. Don't be afraid to call a friend or expert to help with making a design choice. I called my friend who just finished building her own home to help me decide what type of cabinets to go with. I had picked out my kitchen cabinet color during the design studio preview but didn't realize I had to choose between materials. The design choices you make at your appointment can be changed after you leave but for a hefty fee. So, take your time and don't let them rush you. If you need help with making a decision it's okay to phone a friend.

5 Tips for Visiting Builder Design Center

Well there you have it! I hope these tips are helpful to you for when you have your appointment at the design center.

Are you the process of building your home? What other design center tips should I add to this list?
Please share in the comments below.

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