hey friend, 

get to know me

I'm Carrie Barker.

I'm here to simplify the home build planning and design process so that YOU feel equipped to confidently build your dream home without regrets and without blowing your budget!

home build planning

Browse home build tips

Floor plan creation

home build budget

design finishes

get the freebie!

home decor

Browse design tips

design finishes

Follow along:

Home Build prep guide


Home Build Planning

Best Upgrades when Building a House

Published on:


written by:

Carrie Barker


In order to have a *chance* of sticking to your home build budget, you’ll need to make some sacrifices and might not be able to get everything you want in your future home. Don’t let this discourage you though! It’s simply a fact that we all deal with it when building a home. So let’s stay positive and talk about the best upgrades when building a house so you can splurge where it matters!

In this blog post, I’ll share some areas that are typically great places to upgrade, but this is YOUR home so upgrade things that are most important to YOU and your family.

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. I can give you ideas, but the ultimate choice of where to upgrade should be based on your own must-haves.


First of all, there are two major categories for new home construction upgrades: structural (home structure) and non-structural (cosmetic upgrades)

When thinking about upgrades for your home, you should really put the most focus on structural upgrades because these are very difficult (if not impossible) and expensive to add or change later.

Non-structural upgrades, on the other hand, are a great place to compromise (save) because these are easier to change or add later.

best home upgrades



If you need a larger home to accommodate your family’s needs, then square footage is a great place to upgrade or invest. Obviously, square footage is very difficult (and expensive) to change (or add) later.


Ceiling height (e.g. 10’ or vaulted ceilings) is very difficult (if not impossible) to change to in the future, so this is a great place to splurge (if it’s important to you).


Spring for extra insulation! It is always more economical to add it to new construction rather than after the fact. Insulating your new construction home properly will keep your electric bills lower and provide extra comfort for your family.


Your home exterior is not only the first impression people have of your home, but it’s also what protects your home from the weather elements. Also, home exterior materials are a very expensive change to make later.


Your kitchen is the BEST place to upgrade finishes for two reasons:

  1. You’ll get a great return on this investment when you sell your home in the future, and 
  2. More importantly (in my opinion), the kitchen is the heart of the home and where your family will spend the bulk of your time together. Make it a beautiful, functional, and enjoyable room!

Upgraded kitchen cabinets and counters are definitely worth the investment, as well as your plumbing fixtures and appliances (if these are important to you).

Other places that are worth the splurge (if within your budget) are a large kitchen island, walk-in pantry, beautiful pendant lighting over the island, plenty of recessed (can) lighting throughout the perimeter of your kitchen ceiling, and upgraded appliances (if you cook and this is important to you).


Like your kitchen, investing in your master bathroom will give you a great ROI (return on investment). 

Upgraded cabinets and counters are definitely worth the investment in your master bathroom, as well as nicer plumbing fixtures, shower materials, tub, heated flooring, and square footage (if these items are important to you).


This isn’t absolutely necessary because there are great flooring options at all price points. However, if you have your heart set on high-end flooring, the best places to install it are in your foyer, family room, kitchen, and dining room … basically, the main areas of your home that guests will regularly see.

TIP: Upgrade your carpet padding even if you buy inexpensive carpet. This will make your carpet feel cushier and comfier to walk on regardless of the quality of the carpet itself.


The more efficient you can make your home, the less you’ll spend on utilities each month. Upgrading to energy-efficient windows, appliances, and heating/cooling devices is well worth the extra expense in the long run.


Remember … you can gather ideas from me as well as others, BUT your upgrade decisions should all come down to what’s most (and least) important to YOU. Don’t focus on what’s most important to your neighbors or that stranger you follow on Instagram or me or your mom. Focus on what’s important to YOU!

Whatever is most important to YOU is exactly where YOU should upgrade (splurge). Whatever is NOT that important to you is exactly where YOU should compromise (save) when building your home.

If you want to dive a little deeper and follow my guided workbook to determine where YOU should upgrade (or Splurge), you can purchase my ‘Splurge & Save Planner‘ for ONLY $9! Heads up that this is a limited-time offer. Don’t click on the link unless you are ready to purchase within 20 minutes. This is an offer typically reserved only for my email subscribers, but I know it will be super helpful for you so I’m sharing the offer with you too :).

If you aren’t ready to dive that deep but would like to learn the five crucial steps to build your home with less stress, more confidence, and without going over budget, download my absolutely *FREE* Custom Home Build Prep Guide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Get My free  
Home Build Prep Guide

yes! I need this!


I designed my own custom home from the ground up, inside and out. A home that is cozy, comfy, laid out perfectly for the way my family lives, and makes us happy every single day. Oh, and did I mention I did this all without blowing the budget?! 

Yep, it’s true. I’ve been there, done that, and actually lived through it … and you will too. Pinkie promise!

a.k.a. Caroline on Design

I’m Carrie Barker.

hey there,

Follow me on instagram!