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Solar panels, smart-home technology, quartz countertops, luxury vinyl flooring, lots of storage, and secondary suites above the garage or in the basement are all valuable upgrades that provide a lot of bang for your buck when building a new home.

Kon-strux Developments builds new homes and renovates existing ones in Calgary. Shannon Lenstra, the company’s president, says upgrades vary depending on what a builder offers as standards and what is important to each buyer.

However, buyers should look for upgrades that are less expensive to make during construction than they are as a future renovation, as well as those that increase future resale value.

“The best value is solar panels on the roof and smart home technologies,” said Lenstra. “They are a must – they reduce the carbon footprint and provide energy efficiency and connectivity.”

Including efficiency upgrades today is especially important considering who will eventually buy your home several years down the road.

“What would millennials want, especially in a younger neighbourhood? Maybe they’re not buying now, but if you’re looking for a return on your investment, consider what they are going to want.”

“The best value is solar panels on the roof and smart home technologies. They are a must – they reduce the carbon footprint and provide energy efficiency and connectivity.” – Shannon Lenstra, Kon-strux Developments

Curtis Cossey, president and CEO of national real estate appraisal firm CDC Inc., agrees with Lenstra on the value of both smart-home technology and energy efficiencies, including metal roofs and upgraded windows, but says demand for both upgrade categories extends beyond millennials to all buyer demographics.

“But the millennials, especially, take social responsibility seriously and, at the same time, are frugal about pricing,” he said.

He says the best upgrade values – including high-quality, energy-efficient appliances and fixtures – remain in the kitchen (“the heart of the home”), bathroom and the overall condition of the home.

In the kitchen, both Lenstra and Cossey say quartz countertops not only look good, but are man-made, anti-bacterial, durable and easy to clean.

Long-term durability is also why Lenstra says luxury vinyl flooring is replacing many other options.

“You can have five kids and a 100-pound dog racing around and there’s no scratches,” she said. “It lasts.”

Cossey says a clean, classic style in the kitchen will also provide longer-term value, including plenty of cabinetry and energy-efficient appliances.

“Storage is important in every room, and it has to be convenient,” he said.

Both say developed basements provide little return on investment (25 to 30 per cent of what you spend, says Crossey). Lenstra says the one exception is if that developed basement becomes a rental suite that provides income. A basement suite, or a secondary suite over a two-car garage, are both part of a valuable and growing category of upgrades.

In the end, Lenstra says, while some upgrades have more long-term value, “you have to do what fits with your family.”