In two months I will be closing on my new condo. I am nearly finished saving for the 20% down payment, closing costs and condo board slush fund. I’ve driven by numerous times since the building began construction in February. Every time I drove by I would take note of the changes: the completion of each floor, the addition of windows, the securing of balcony railings, the completion of the roof and the paving of the sidewalk and outdoor parking lot.
For a little while now I have no longer been able to discern any improvements from the outside, however, I have been making selections on my standard features and upgrades indoors. I have been pretty happy with the standard options for most of the selections. The kitchen appliances are all stainless steel. The condo comes with a washer and dryer. The kitchen and bathroom faucets are all chrome.
I did, however, make some upgrades for very specific reasons. I upgraded the flooring in the kitchen/main room to a hardwood floor because I really enjoy the look, but also because the resale value will be improved greatly. For the same reasons I upgraded the kitchen counter top to granite and under mounted the sink for the ease of cleaning. I made a very slight upgrade in the cabinet paneling as the paneling looked ridiculous with the grain of the wood. I upgraded the counter top in the master bath to a granite because the standard white cultured marble shows took much dirt and hair. For comfort reasons I made a slight upgrade to the carpeting and padding. Finally, I raised the vanities in both bathrooms as I am not a short person and my back is already questionable after taking up biking recently. All of these upgrades combined come out to about $9,500. The most significant upgrade was the hardwood flooring, which came out to about $5,500. I think the money invested in these upgrades will not only increase my happiness, but the resale value boost will more than make up for the $9,500 invested.
One of my high school friend’s Mom owns the electrical company that does all of the electrical work for the builder of my condo building. When she found out I was buying a condo in the new development, my friend’s Mom offered to install all of my lighting fixtures at cost and to charge me only for the actual fixtures at a discount. This past week I went in to meet with my friend’s Mom and discovered the full extent of the kind offer. I received a credit for the kitchen flourescent light, kitchen pendant light, dining room chandelier, two bedroom lights, two bathroom vanities and the foyer sconce for a value of $564. The standard lighting fixtures were pretty ugly compared to the quality of the other standard options. My friend’s Mom thinks she will be able to get me a dining room chandelier, kitchen flextrack lighting, kitchen pendant track lighting, two bedroom fans with uplights, two sconces, two bathroom vanities, under cabinet puck lighting and lights over the shower and tub for all around $600. This also includes adding extra switches and wiring for the second sconce lights over shower/tub, which are not standard. The lighting that I selected are all of very good quality. I estimate the lighting to be a $2,000 value minimum, which is pretty much free to me as I have a credit that covers most of the $600.
Additionally, my friend’s Mom works closely with the drywaller and painter that the builder uses. The builder uses a painter to put a coating of an off-white paint on all of the walls in every condo. I have asked if they would paint the walls with paint I supply, since they are already going to be painting it. Why would they care if it was just a different color? My request was denied. My friend’s Mom, however, thinks it would be no problem for the painter to use my paint instead. This is a huge advantage. I still have to buy and supply the paint, however, I won’t have to worry about painting before moving. Everything will already be painted when I close!!
Most of the time when you hear the word networking you think about business people with MBA’s and what not. Networking can benefit more than just the MBA folk. I benefited greatly with my condo. I got my first summer internship through one of my Dad’s fraternity brothers. The more people you know in different places, the more deals and help you will find on your financial journey. Have any sweet networking stories from your personal life?