Builder-included community amenities can add value to your life and put money in your pocket! In addition to the beautiful features you can add to your semi-custom home, community amenities are important to your quality of life and your home’s resale value. Amenities, such as community pools, walking trails, community centers, parks, or exercise facilities, come in all shapes and sizes. They will usually be some of the first things that the builders display on their websites or a new home salesperson will tell you about when you enter their model home. And, let’s face it, amenities are significant. They give you a vivid idea of what your lifestyle will be like “outside” the home, and often, this is just as important as the home itself.

Look, the new home industry is exceptionally competitive. As a new home shopper, you’re going to do your best to determine what separates one builder form another. Most home builders will try and make those differences as apparent as possible, so it’s easy for you to make a decision. The unique differences between builders can be price, lot size, location, schools, or the local tax rate. But for many builders, what distinguishes them from their nearby competition is the amenity package that included with each new home purchased in the community. Let’s take a look at community benefits and some of the terms associated with them.

Master-Planned Communities

Amenities are generally more spectacular in Master-Planned Communities (MPC) than they are in smaller, builder-owned neighborhoods. An MPC is usually a large neighborhood that can be several hundred to over a thousand homesites sold to a specific group of builders that are permitted to build homes in that community. These MPCs are created by developers who carefully design them, arrange with the city to secure utilities, and sometimes even develop onsite schools for the residents. Builder-owned communities are generally smaller on feature the homes of one or two builders. MPC often include huge spectacular pools, splash pads, extensive trails, fishing or boating lakes, and parks throughout the community to be enjoyed by the residents. Master-planned communities often have a community representative, employed by the developer, that plans events and assists the residents with their needs. As a rule, this position is not part of a builder-owned community. 

The Master-planned community amenity package is critical to the overall branding and image of the community. If the community wants to highlight sustainable materials and an organic approach to life, the amenity package may include organic gardening with an onsite farmer, included gardens for each resident, and demand that builders offer solar power for the homes. If the community is positioning themselves as a “resort-style” community, the pools may be huge and feature spectacular slides, splash pads, kiddie pools, and even a snack bar and refreshment area. These amenities all make for fantastic marketing materials and distinctive value-added elements for residents.

The amenities in builder-owned communities, while not as impressive as those in MPCs, are still noteworthy. Pocket parks, small playgrounds, and smaller, but very lovely, community pools make up the most common amenity packages in these communities.

What Is An “Amenities Package” And How Do I Budget For It?
Factoring the cost of the amenity package into your budget is a little tricky. First, many communities will have a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) that is responsible for maintaining the public and common areas in the neighborhood. These common areas are smaller, and require less maintenance, in a builder owned community than they do in some of the massive MPCs. HOAs charge a monthly fee to each resident in the community to pay for maintenance services such as mowing grass, trimming trees, community building repair, pool maintenance, and the utilities and personnel required to keep all systems running smoothly. As you can imagine, the upkeep on a five-acre pool and splash pad, a twenty-acre fishing lake, a work out facility, tennis courts, and acres of green space is higher than what is required to maintain one pool and a park. Ask the community salesperson about the monthly HOA dues and make sure you include them in your budget. HOA dues in a builder owned community can be as little as a hundred dollars per year. The HOA dues in MPCs are typically higher.

How Can Amenities Save Me Money?
The good news is that an excellent amenity package can save you money with the things that they’ll replace in or remove from your budget. Gym memberships, one family vacation a year, visits to the water or theme park, or eliminating the need for a pool or travel to the local park to get your running in can all save you money each month. In some cases, these expenses, including the gas and time required to go to and from them, can be significant and will have an immediate impact on your budget.

However, the biggest bonus of an amazing amenity package is the beneficial impact it will have on the quality of life for you and your family. Amenity packages, whether they’re big or small, will save you time and money while they add joy to your family’s life!

Types Of Amenities

Parks and green spaces – Many MPCs dedicate land for personal enjoyment and beauty. Green spaces and pocket parks can lend the feel of being in a more suburban area while still being close to city-center activity.

Paved and natural (unpaved) trail systems for walking, jogging, biking, etc. – Before a long day or after one, many people find that outdoor exercise is a great way to energize or unwind. Communities that offer paved and natural trails allow homeowners to “get away” without going too far from their homes.

Main street village centers with retail services and cafes for gathering and socializing – A fun night out on the town can be exciting and fun. Not having to travel too far for that can be even better. One-stop entertainment right in your own community can be an invaluable convenience.

Outdoor, resort-style pools – Community pools can offer all of the good stuff about being able to cool off during the hot summer months without the hassle! Upkeep of a pool can be a timely endeavor and for the few months most people use their pools, it may be an amenity you prefer to let the maintenance team handle so you can just enjoy it.

Exercise rooms and equipment – Gym memberships can be expensive and far from home. MPCs often have gyms that can only be used by homeowners which make it convenient and less costly than independently owned gyms charge for memberships. 

Dog Parks – Can’t forget “Fido!” Four-legged family members need a little space, too! MPCs often develop dog parks for walking pets and letting them relieve themselves in dedicated areas. Doggie bags and trash receptacles are available so remove waste and keep the rest of the grounds free of waste and smell!

An area for hosting events like concerts and other activities – MPCs often have aesthetically stunning areas for homeowners to hold community  and personal events and activities, such as parties, celebrations, and even wedding receptions. Architecturally beautiful, open, accessible, and close are some of the benefits of these areas offer along with keeping the wear and tear on your own property to a minimum when hosting events!

So, make sure you take time to check out the community benefits that will be available to you in the builder communities you are interested in visiting. They can seem expensive until you work the benefits of them into your lifestyle. Once you do that, you may realize that the value you are getting from an amenities package far outweighs the cost of one!