If you’re in a quandary about remodeling your present home versus building a new one, keep in mind that a major residential remodel may cost almost as much as creating a home from the ground up. While running the numbers is essential, with remodeling there’s a distinct possibility that an unexpected situation may crop up. In general, in either remodeling or building there’s a good chance you’ll spend somewhat more than anticipated, but you don’t want to dig yourself into a financial hole in either case. Make your decision based on information you receive from engineers, architects, builders and contractors specializing in renovation.
The State of Your Current Home
What is it about your current home that needs to be changed? If your house has no special characteristics, building a home to your exact specifications is appealing. If your home has historical charm and high-quality workmanship not always found in modern homes, remodeling can give you extra room while allowing you to enjoy the unique aspects of your house. If your house has any structural soundness issues, problems with its plumbing or electrical and HVAC systems that haven’t received upgrades in decades, then building a new home may make more sense.
Local Zoning Laws
You must also check with your local government about whether you can make the renovations you desire. If you’re staying within the current footprint, that’s probably not a problem, but any type of expansion may interfere with local zoning laws. At best, you’ll go before your zoning board and receive permission to go forward with your project. At worst, the zoning board will deny your application.
Energy Efficiency Preferences
Today’s homeowners and builders want to go green, and that’s accomplished more easily with new construction. While you can renovate an older home for energy efficiency, such as installing new windows and doors and putting in environmentally friendly appliances, it’s difficult to make more sweeping changes. For example, it’s harder to install solar panels on many existing roofs, and with some types of roofs there simply isn’t enough space for such panels.
The Hassle Factor
While money is a huge consideration, it’s important to also keep the hassle factor in mind. Remodeling or building are both major projects that bring their own unique challenges.
However, if your house is undergoing a major renovation, you’ll have to live with the daily effects of construction for quite some time. Depending on the type of remodel, that may mean three months or more. You’ll live with noise, dirt and inconvenience, along with the possibility of having to stay elsewhere at least temporarily. For kids and pets, living in a home undergoing renovation is especially unnerving.
If you build a home, your daily life isn’t as directly impacted. Expect new construction to take a minimum of six months and possibly longer. Of course, if you demolish your old home and have a new home rebuilt in its place, you must deal with relocation during construction. That may mean renting another dwelling or moving in with relatives; only you can determine whether temporary relocation is worth the effort.
A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt's work has appeared in dozens of publications, including PocketSense, Zack's, Financial Advisor, nj.com, LegalZoom and The Nest.