Ok. After nearly 5 months since moving into my house, I've decided it is time to make some suggestions.
*The base carpeting in the Buffalo market is 'Shaw Baseline' carpet. It is a fairly inexpensive carpet but if you're willing to vacuum several times per week, and you're willing to upgrade the pad under the carpet, it is fine. A very soft carpet that will crush quickly if you don't regularly vacuum. Word of caution, this carpet does not come with any stain resistance, have your carpets professionally stain treated before moving in.
*If you're thinking about vinyl flooring, think twice: I love the ease of washing vinyl, but it kind of 'floats' on the sub floor similar to laminate. If you have the money purchase solid wood flooring or tile. Only use vinyl if there is absolutely no money in your budget for wood/tile.
*Cable/Telephone/Outlet options: Really sit down and firm up exactly where each outlet will be. I'm not unhappy with my outlet locations but I would change things up if I had to do it over again. My suggestion: put a cable/Internet connection in every bedroom, the kitchen, and every living area you have in your model. It isn't expensive to add electrical outlets, splurge, spend the few extra dollars in advance and save hundreds of dollars in the future.
*Optional windows/garage door: Sometimes the optional windows in model homes look great, but they also take away wall space where you may want to put bookcases, or art, or whatever. Don't assume every optional window is essential. That said, there are many optional side windows that serve two purposes: 1) they add cross ventilation/light 2) they allow the siding on the sides of the house to look better and have less 'wrinkels' in it. Ditto the optional walk-through side garage door. It really helps prevent that excessive bowing/warping/wrinkling some new houses have on side walls that have no windows.
*Cabinet upgrades: If you really want those expensive, slightly better quality cabinets go for it! Don't feel ashamed about spending the money. Better spent know than latter. With that said, if you don't find the perfect, and I mean perfect, cabinet as an option, don't waste your money buying a upgrade cabinet that you really don't love. I wanted a natural stained wood in my house and Ryan Homes only offered the standard oak in that color. No I didn't really want the standard oak, but I didn't love anything else they offered. The one option I liked was the full-overlay 'Rushmore' white cabinets with butterscotch glaze. But for $3,500 I thought the better of it. I can paint my cabinets off-white and add my own butterscotch glaze for a whole lot less.
*Counter tops/appliance upgrades: my advice, save your money, get your use out of what Ryan Homes offers you (standard) and when it is used up, then spend your money on upgrading to marble, granite, or stainless steel. Builders typically charge the full cost for upgrades meaning you're buying the standard product and paying full price for the upgrade too. Builders pocket the extra money and you help add a large margin of profit for them. Why waste your money? Also, if your property taxes are based on sales price, you're permanently adding an annual cost for each upgrade. So if you spend $25,000 dollars upgrading flooring to the very best (and builders rarely give you the very best product no matter what) you're always going to pay for that upgrade, even after it is worn out and you pay to have it replaced. It is a permanent part of your tax assessment. If you go with the standard product and replace it in a few years, it is a tax free 'investment'.
*Upgrades to invest in: walk-in shower instead of tub, extra bathroom, special elevation you absolutley love, bonus room, anything structural that will be more expensive to change out latter. Carpet, flooring, countertops, appliances and lighting fixtures can all be changed out easily. Don't spend too much money on these options as you can use what Ryan gives you and save your money (without paying interest and property taxes) to invest at a latter date.