Visit Our Sites:

Remodeling vs. Rebuilding – A Guide to Reinventing your Living Space

Remodeling vs. Rebuilding – A Guide to Reinventing your Living Space

If you find yourself frequently wishing for more space, updated functions, and more energy efficiency in your home, you may be considering some. Do you move or do you stay put?

When you decide to stay put, you don’t have to accept the house exactly as it is. With a little or a lot of time and money, you could decide to remodel your home to make it exactly what it is. But we’ve heard the warning before: remodeling isn’t always the most cost-effective way to get the house that you need – frequently, rebuilding your home is more affordable.

Today we are exploring the differences between remodeling your home or rebuilding it from scratch. We’ll walk through the benefits and drawbacks of each, and a couple things to consider when making this big decision.

Remodeling

Remodeling, or renovating, is defined as the process of improving a broken, outdated, or damaged structure. If you’re already living in your home, it probably isn’t anything worse than a bit outdated. You’re more likely needing or craving more space for your family, or simply see that the space could function better with some renovations. Or maybe you’re looking to bring your home into the 21st century with design and techniques to make it more efficient and amenable to modern living.

Remodeling your home can mean that you can retain what you like while improving the pieces that aren’t working. Perhaps you’re already in your dream location, or the house is the precise Cape Cod or Craftsman style you’ve always wanted - you don’t want to give that up by moving or rebuilding.

Depending on your goals, remodeling can be a really good option for room-specific changes, like gutting a kitchen or bathroom or installing clerestories to brighten the space and create some drama. If you’re doing a larger overhaul, remodeling can mean adding a ground-floor master suite or living space, or popping the roof of the house to add a second story.

Importantly - a remodel can be a lot more affordable initially than a rebuild, as you can slow the process down. If you can focus on one room at a time, you don’t have to shack up in a hotel for weeks while an entire house is built. You may also be able to afford the changes out of pocket, so you can avoid a costly loan.

But, with any financial investment, there are risks: remodeling costs have a way of spiraling beyond initial budget. With renovation costs starting around $150 per square foot, this adds up quickly. Go slowly when renovating, though beware that making significant changes to an old home is likely going to cost a lot. Modern code may require an overhaul of your existing outdated plumbing or electrical systems – no cheap task.

When dreaming up your ideal living situation, keep in mind that the house can only allow so much change. Architects encourage clients to consider the house as their guide: when renovating a home, it’s not only about what you want, but what the house is capable of allowing. If the house has good bones and historic charm, that may be worth retaining. If the house was cheaply built, it may not be worth the time, money, and materials to renovate.

A new build, thoughtfully designed and built, could offer a lot more historic value in the future.

Trying to do too much or something too different from what the house originally is probably will just cost too much time and money.

Rebuilding

If renovating isn’t the best fit for you, consider a new build. A thoughtfully designed and built brand new home could offer a lot more historic – and financial – value in the future.

Rebuilding is different than renovating. If you’ve familiar with the term ‘scrape, this is what we’re talking about. Rebuilding refers to demolishing your current home (literally scraping the lot) and rebuilding from scratch on your property. Rebuilding often feels a lot more daunting up-front than a “simpler” remodel. It’s a lot more money right off the bat, and the timeline can easily span months from demolition to move-in ready.

Beyond these initial perceptions, consider some benefits of a rebuild. Assuming you aren’t moving, you are already familiar with the neighborhood and the schools. While you will have to find some short-term temporary housing, your kids will be thrilled to stay in their current school and keep their friends.

A new build means you’re thinking long-term. When it eventually comes time to sell the property and newly-built home, you’ll likely make out with a much higher sell price build than an entirely rehabbed home that is similar in style and neighborhood.

Why? There’s several reasons for this. New builds must meet current code, so the plumbing and electrical aren’t something a new homeowner will have to sink money into. With major improvements in energy and plumbing efficiencies, you can build a new home that has a significantly smaller environmental footprint than any older home, no matter how much it’s been retrofitted with energy-efficient products.

When you’re building from scratch, you get exactly what you want – you won’t have to work around historic inefficiencies or quirks. Really want that old-feel kitchen but in a much larger space? Design it.

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t matter if it’s a renovation or a rebuild: typically the more money you spend, the more money you may have to put out in permitting and licensing. For instance, local city rules may require you install a new sewer connection once you reach a certain spending threshold. 

Think about what you? feeling you really want. Does an old, remodeled home give you the feeling of romance, rustic living, or the nostalgia of simplicity? It could very well be that these feelings are easier to create in a new home than with the existing limitations of an older home.

Consider all your options – try laying out what changes you’d need versus what you’d like. Talk with an architect to get a professional assessment of your property.

Whether you choose to remodel or rebuild, you’ll be happier with your decision once you’ve considered all the options.