The opportunities for a custom home are endless and you’re probably wondering where to begin. It’s important to take time to plan for the special features you’ll want in your dream home, and it could save you time and money later on. Need a few ideas? Here’s our list of five savvy upgrades your custom home needs which are the high-tech, value-adding essentials for a modern home in Georgia.
1. Whole-house standby generator
A standby generator is your home’s safeguard against extended power outages. Storms can knock out utility power for days at a time, but a standby generator ensures you will never be without power in your new home.
The convenience of a standby generator is in its automatic transfer. When utility power is disconnected, the generator is automatically switched on to power the home’s electrical panel. It protects your appliances and electronics from power surges and allows you to enjoy the luxuries of your custom home uninterrupted, even during extended outages.
GenSpring Power will help you find the perfect location for your home’s generator and professionally install it according to all national and local codes. Contact us today to schedule a free site visit!
Value/ROI: The total cost of a home generator is a function of the size of your home, your electrical requirements and the complexity of your installation. Our most popular small generators range in size from 12,000 to 20,000 watts, which equates to $6,500 to $11,500. According to the 2016 Cost vs. Value report by Remodeling an average of 68.2% of the cost is recouped in a resale. Couple that with the benefits you receive through the comfort and security of having a quality home generator system installed and maintained by GenSpring Power and you have a great value and respectable return on your overall investment.
2. Motion-activated lighting
The best place to install motion-activated lights is outside your home. Sensors that can detect movement and automatically illuminate dark outdoor areas mean you never have to fumble for a lightswitch in the dark again. These sensors are discreet and won’t distract from your home’s aesthetic, but when a person, car or even a pet passes through their range of sight, the switch is tripped to turn on the lights. A well-placed sensor lights the paths leading to entrances to your home and illuminates dark areas of your yard, giving you safety and peace of mind at night.
Motion-activated lighting can also reduce your energy costs by only using lights when needed. It’s especially easy to forget to switch off outdoor lights before going to bed or leaving the house, but motion sensors have timers that turn the lights off after a period of no detected activity. To reduce unnecessary illumination, or “nuisance trips,” you can adjust the range and aim of your sensors to decrease their sensitivity to harmless triggers like wild animals and blowing leaves.
Value/ROI: A study by 24/7 Home Security found each individual outdoor flood light costs a homeowner an average of $35 per year in electricity, but with a motion sensor installed, the same lights cost only about $2 each per year. On average, it takes approximately one year to recoup the cost of installation in energy savings. The same study also emphasized the value of motion-activated lights as a security feature, suggesting they can startle and scare off intruders who trip the switches when trying to break in.
3. Smart thermostat
A manually programmable thermostat allows you to set and maintain the temperature of your home’s heating and cooling system, but a smart thermostat has additional features that make it more convenient and cost-effective. Many smart thermostats can be managed via smartphone or website apps when you’re away from home, allowing you to make specific adjustments remotely. Some models can even tell you how long it will take to reach your desired temperature, when to change your air filter, and how much you’re spending on heating and cooling each month.
Perhaps the best feature of a smart thermostat is that it’s literally smart—that is, it “learns” over time to adjust itself automatically based on your preferences and habits. That means less time spent programming and more time enjoying a comfortable home, with the bonus of a better understanding of what your heating and cooling really costs and fewer unexpected energy bills.
Value/ROI: A smart thermostat can range between $300-500 to purchase and install, depending on the model and features you choose. However, the EPA estimates that homes with smart thermostats can save up to $180 per year on heating and cooling costs by maintaining a comfortable climate in the home with the most energy-efficient adjustments. If you’re planning to live in your new home for many years, your long-term energy savings will far exceed the initial cost of installation.
4. Specialty wiring and outlets
There’s no better time to install electrical wiring in your walls than during construction, when everything is easily accessible. Even if you don’t know exactly what you’ll want to install, it’s never a bad idea to prepare your home, especially since the cost of installation now would be comparatively less than what it would cost to break into the drywall in the future.
The best approach is to think carefully of the uses and needs of each room in your custom home. For example, plan where you’ll want holiday decorations to go, where electronics will be placed and where furniture best fits to place wiring and outlets at convenient locations, so there will always be an outlet within reach. Your contractor or electrician can help you determine the best placements and also provide suggestions you may not have considered.
Value/ROI: Even if you end up not utilizing this specialty wiring, it will still add resale value to your home. A report by ABC News estimates the installation of structured wiring typically adds anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 to the cost of building a home, but is affordable when factored into a mortgage and dramatically increases resale value. As more “smart” appliances and entertainment systems are introduced, a home that is pre-equipped to handle the latest devices will have significant value in the current and future markets.
5. Home security system
Protect your family and your assets in your new home by investing in a home security system to deter thefts and break-ins. We all know to keep exterior doors and windows locked, even when at home, but a home security system can add one or more lines of defense against intruders. Many types of systems are available, but generally the most useful features are a siren that sounds when an exterior door or window is opened while the system is armed and an automatic call to the alarm company or police when the alarm is triggered. Bonus: if you’ve installed a whole-house standby generator, you’ll never have to worry about losing power to your home security system.
You could also opt for a system with security cameras as an added feature. Your security company can install these cameras to record vulnerable areas such as your front porch, back door and garage. Some systems record video footage to a hard drive, and others can be accessed live from your smartphone. Visible cameras often act as deterrents to thieves and give you peace of mind knowing what’s going on at your home while you’re away.
Value/ROI: Statistics collected by SafeWise show that most home burglaries occur during daytime hours, when homeowners are typically at work or otherwise away from home, and the average property loss a homeowner suffers after a burglary is more than $2,000. Depending on the technology and plan you choose, home security costs about $20 to $60 per month—a small price to pay for the peace of mind knowing your home is protected and secure. Also, many home insurance policies offer discounts for home security systems. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average discount for homeowners is between 15% to 20%.