Renovation versus tear down is a huge question for many of our clients. There are many factors to consider when it’s time to renovate or update your home. Renovating a home comes with potential hazards and risks. But, tearing a house down can add costs that you would not have in a renovation such as huge demotion and disposal fees. The first question to ask – is there any way the house can be modified to meet your needs and lifestyle? Or are you going to be forced to live with features that will limit the way you want to live in the house? The “end result” should be your first consideration. Is it possible to get what I want with what I have for my budget?
Pricing renovations can be very difficult for builders. It is very hard for builders to know everything that lurks behind your walls, siding, under your roof or foundation when putting together a bid. It is very common for builders to add additional costs for the “unknown” in their bids. Or they may put a clause in their bid that protects them from the unknown should they uncover a monster with big cost considerations or that may cause a delay in the schedule. This may lead to a big hit to your wallet during the construction process because of unknown issues that were not anticipated on or budgeted for. New construction is a much cleaner slate. There are given parameters for the construction and the related costs. There is a known schedule and a budget. Everything will be new and designed exactly as you want it.
Renovation has been very popular in our “Green” society where everyone wants to reuse and reclaim as much as possible. This movement has slowed down a lot of the “throw away” and “tear it down” actions and has encouraged many to try to salvage as much of their older home as possible. If you have to tear down, maybe there are materials that can be salvaged and reused in your new home. There is a huge market for salvaged materials. We incorporate reclaimed materials from older homes, warehouses or barns in our projects all the time. Some of the older details in reclaimed materials are priceless and can’t be duplicated in new wood and construction. Plus adding the older details and materials adds a very unique element that you cannot get any other way.
For that reason, older homes have unique characters that you don’t see in as many of the new homes. They have details created by artisans and craftsman that are hard to find these days. So, if there is a way to preserve some of those features then that may be worth the effort. However, there is a threshold you may reach where the dollars to redo and preserve exceed your budget. It is just not worth it to sink all your funds into something especially when the end result is not exactly what you want.
Sometimes our clients engage a real estate agent about the value of a renovated home versus new construction. A renovated home may be worth more and have a wider appeal depending on where it is located and may appeal to more people for resale than a newly built home. Many people buy the heritage and the character of a home, particularly in small towns or historic districts.
A big feature of a newly constructed home is the utilization of newer materials resulting in minimal maintenance. This is a huge issue with many homeowners these days. The other consideration here in the mountains is using materials that are rot and bug resistant, hence the proliferation of using concrete siding. And newer construction makes it much easier to incorporate updated mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems without having to tear the house apart to run new systems. This pertains not only to the interior of the house, but connections to the water and sewer supply systems in the site or city.
Another benefit to a renovation is the opportunity to phase the construction and spread the costs over time which may be beneficial for your personal budgeting. New construction is one lump sum that happens all at once which may make more sense for some. Construction is not an easy task so some personalities may prefer to get everything done at once and not drag it out over many years – all of this is something to think about!
Renovations can also be very disruptive to a household! We strongly advise all clients considering renovation to make sure they have a place to live during construction. Living on a construction site is one of the most stressful situations someone can go through. The other fact to face when renovating is that you must move as much of your belongings out of your house as you can. Construction dust and debris has a way of penetrating everything – cabinets, fabrics, furniture, mattresses, etc. And it is really important to clear the areas very well for your builder. You want to make sure your builder’s focus is on building a great house for you not having to work around all of your belongings (if at all possible!)