This article originally appeared in The La Jolla Light
Your home is your castle, and for some people, that’s a more literal than figurative statement. People are back to reinvesting in property, and for those who want to build their life around their home, they want a castle that will stand the test of time.
Which means it’s important to get it right the first time.
First, let’s go back to discuss the buy versus build question. When planning to own a luxury home (generally considered to be a home above the 1 million price range), you want to be certain of your investment. When buying a luxury home, you can either buy a pre-owned home or something from the many posh community development projects popping up in increasing numbers throughout Southern California.
Sometimes, however, developers get what they want, but homeowners don’t necessarily get what they want. Usually developers have a good sense of what buyers want in a luxury home, yet it’s not a perfect system; personal taste varies so widely that it would be impossible to satisfy every household, even when offering 3-5 models within a development.
Homeowners have a right to be particular about their house, especially when investing a high amount. But making changes to an existing house here and there, cosmetic or structural, add up to a significant increase beyond the purchase price.
When buying a luxury home as part of a development, it’s smart investing to do your research. Make sure the developer has a clean record, and make sure you get a thorough assessment of the property by a trusted home inspector who is certified, with plenty of experience, and who has a reputation for attention to detail. You want to avoid any surprises on your final walk through or—worse—a year into ownership of your new home that should have been caught during the inspection.
The perks of custom building a luxury home
The most obvious: you get what you want when you design it yourself. You can have your floor plan custom to your tastes and needs, and all of the materials are what you want and can afford. Some older luxury homes may not have been that luxurious to begin with, but property values and location—even size—may have increased its value over the years. When this happens, there’s a good chance that the work and the style are both dated. Or, homes may have been built with quality materials but that catered to a specific trend that has already aged-out. Even shag carpet was once considered luxurious.
Here is a brief checklist to consider when building your luxury home:
- As with any real estate but especially with a luxury home, choose the best location, whether it’s tucked up in rolling hills or in the middle of an urban center. What is in the area? In one example from Los Angeles, there was a home going for 1.2 million that was located two doors down from a soup kitchen. If a mixed-income urban idea is what you’re going for, that’s fine, but if you have concerns about resale value and heavy foot traffic, you may want to rethink that choice. The soup kitchen isn’t going anywhere. Are there plans to update? Is the neighborhood a little rough around the edges but heading for major redevelopment, either with new housing or industry? These factors can skyrocket property values. But decide whether you prefer a busy, modern urban environment or something more secluded and quiet.
- Choose a builder who has experience building luxury homes. Don’t cut costs by choosing a builder with less experience, or who is used to doing small projects. Also make sure the builder is open to working with your ideas, since the whole point of the project is to get your dream home.
- Calculate the cost of each detail, and make sure you match the other luxury homes in that area. It’s easy to have an eye for the best materials, or relish in the perks of creating your own living space from scratch. But along the way, it is essential to keep track of all the add-ons. If you have a budget of 2 million, for instance, but you decide during the process to add heated floors, an extra bathroom with a disco, or a casita—anything not in the original plans—you can find yourself swelling the budget by hundreds of thousands or even millions dollars. If budget is no object, this is fine. One word of caution on this front, however: if you build a 20 million dollar home in a 1 million dollar neighborhood, you will have a very rough time ever reselling. If you want your 20 million dollar home, select a neighborhood that has at least a few homes with equivalent appraisal values.
- Functionality is the new black. Luxury homes are more attainable—there isn’t that museum-like quality that you used to see in exclusive neighborhoods twenty, thirty years ago, or in Versailles. People actually want to live in their luxury homes, to live in their living rooms. Where do you want to spend most of your time? How do you want to spend your time there? Think about what best suits you, whether it’s a kitchen island with plenty of workspace but also a bar with enough seating for the whole family or guests, or a long living room with access to the kitchen or backyard to fit a large number of people. And if you don’t want a museum but also don’t want toys of any kind lying around, consider a game room. Like watching movies? Many companies specialize in home theater design and installation, and many can even make custom fantasy theaters designed to look like the Millennium Falcon or a 1930s speakeasy. Create a design for your family and for the type of entertaining you plan to do. Also, plan for top-of-the-line appliances in your kitchen and laundry area, as those are luxury home must-haves, essential for any resale.
- Finally, don’t forget the security system. Luxury homeowners, especially not in gated areas, should have the peace of mind of reliable security. There are many perks to having a smart home, but the biggest conveniences are the security options that come with a smart home, such as monitoring the system from your smart device when you’re away, or setting up light timers that don’t require a lamp to be plugged into a rotary dial. As a bonus, with these smart home systems, you can also control your thermostat from anywhere, so you can check on whether you shut off your AC when running out the door to the airport, or you can turn on your AC when leaving work so you can come home to your already-cooled-off house.
If you’re ready to plan your luxury home or have questions about any part of the luxury home design and building process, contact us for expertise at www.murfeyconstruction.com.