Remodel or Rebuild Your House?

Should You Remodel or Tear Down and Rebuild Your House?

If you own a home that «needs a little love» (as you often see in real estate listings), you may be wondering if you can remodel an existing home or tear it down and start over. This is an important decision that needs to be weighed carefully. To make the right decision for your budget and needs, start by asking a few questions, then take a closer look at what you want to accomplish, the condition of your current home, and what local laws may affect the project. And remember, there’s always a third option: Buy another home that best suits your needs from day one. But if moving is not an option, read the tips on whether it’s better to remodel or build new.

How long will you stay in your house?

If you plan to stay in your home for a long time and then sell it, it’s usually smarter to tear it down and build new, at least from a purely financial perspective.

The physical elements of a house are on a timer. The moment the hammer hits your house for the last time, that timer starts ticking. Exterior paint can last up to seven years, but more than five years in bad weather. Dishwashers last less than a decade, central air conditioners about 10 to 15 years, and trilingual composite shingles about 20 years.

And while some items last a lifetime, many others deteriorate at about the same time. In terms of cost, replacing a dishwasher is no picnic, but imagine having to do it in the same calendar year that you replace your roof, gutters, and central air conditioning.

When you remodel, reset the clock on the physical condition of the house: everything from appliances to sheathing (e.g., ceilings, wall paneling, etc.). When it’s your turn 15 years later, sell a 15-year-old home instead of a 40-year-old home. As a bonus, you have enjoyed living in a new house for 15 years. Buyers will likely call anyone who looks suitable if there are only a few. 

How much do you want to spend?

If you are short on cash, remodeling is always the way to go. For example, you can start with a bathroom remodel and then move on to other rooms depending on your budget and time.

On the other hand, the demolition and rebuild option is all or nothing. After your first big purchase – demolition – you’ll be left with an empty lot that obligates you to build a new home. If you do not want to own an undeveloped lot, you must move on. The worst thing is to have a house that is reasonably finished because structures exposed to the elements age quickly.

Consider Living Condition Needs

Most renovation projects can be completed while you are at home. This can be beneficial in terms of both cost savings and convenience. It may also be necessary if it is your primary residence. However, keep in mind that your family has lived in the development for some time. Think about the safety of children and pets during construction.

Complete demolition and rebuilding will require you and your family to find other temporary living arrangements during construction. If you decide to renovate, consider the additional costs of having to leave your home for a few months.

Determine the true condition of the house

Not all homes can be renovated, but not all homes should be renovated either. Industry experts generally agree that the following conditions deserve demolition/reconstruction, or at least should continue the discussion:

The improvements you want can not be integrated into the home’s existing floor plan. So you want an extra. The need for additional space is certainly not the only reason for a remodel. Additions are always created. The problem is that this can be worked around – but only if you are an engineer who knows what he’s doing.

The foundation is broken and requires a lot of work before the house can be rebuilt.

Is the ceiling too low for what you want? Raising the roof is no easy task – unless there’s plenty of room there. The upper floor must be removed and then rebuilt.

Be Aware of Zoning Restrictions

Zoning regulations govern the type, size, and location of buildings on any property. In urban areas and many suburbs, home remodeling is often limited to the original footprint of the house. In other words, you can not destroy a small house and build a mansion. Zoning regulations may also limit the height of a new house, so you are limited not only to the old floor plan but also to a one- or two-story building. Also, in many areas, you are not legally allowed to rent out a house. This may not be allowed if you want to build an additional house or a baby carriage to use for tenants. Before you begin any work, whether you are renovating or remodeling, be sure to check your city or town’s zoning and permitting laws.