Building A New House VS Renovation

By Ann Hills / last month
new-home

Having a dream house is not a far-fetched fantasy. It’s something that many people work hard for and are able to do at one point or another in their lives. While we do spend a lot of time outside the home, whether at work or elsewhere, we all want to come back to a house that we’re happy to be in.

Whether you decide to build a new home or remodel your current one, you want to reach the outcome of having a dream house that suits your budget and everything else about you. The decision between build or renovate isn’t a simple one, so you’re going to need a few factors to consider and some thoughts to base your final decision on.

Many people will often make this decision based solely on their budget, but in this case, both buying and major renovation are costly, so there are other factors to look into as well. Let’s start with the first aspect to take into consideration.

The condition of your current home: You will need to access the problems that you’re facing in your current home and what it is  exactly that you don’t like and want to change. Are they problems that are affecting the superficial look or affecting the foundations of your home? This is the main question you want to ask yourself. There’s really nothing that can’t be fixed, but the cost of fixing structural, plumbing or electrical issues in a house are very costly, so perhaps building a new one might make more sense.

Keep in mind that living in an old house might have its own charm that cannot be found in more modern houses. Some houses have historical types of architecture and workmanship that are difficult to recreate, and if your house is one of those, renovation might be the better choice. You have to also note that not every old house is strong enough to withstand major renovations if the structure is weak, so you might not even be able to renovate without spending on the foundations first, and you would need an engineer’s opinion on that.

The neighborhood: Maybe you’re not crazy about your house, but you love the neighborhood. If that’s the case, remodeling makes good sense. But by the same token, if the cost of remodeling your home outweighs the resale value, then the building is the better option if the neighborhood is at a good real estate value. Keep in mind that remodeling doesn’t always increase the value of your house if you plan to sell it.

The value can go up with a remodeled kitchen, but other rooms- not so much. Investing in a $100,000 kitchen to install in a $150,000 home will never make sense, but updating an old kitchen with novel cabinets and countertops probably do. So the takeaway here is to not make renovations that are disproportionate to the value of your home. Of course, if your neighborhood is not to your liking anymore, building a new home will give you the chance to physically move away from your surroundings. 

Both can be a hassle: No one can say that one choice is better than the other except you, since it depends on your needs and your circumstances. But everyone can agree that both are a hassle. Both of them are huge projects and each will come with its own benefits as well as headaches. If you want to renovate, are you prepared to live with the hassle in the house?

If not, you will have to find another place to stay while the renovation is happening, and this can go on for months. Also remember that you’ll be dealing with budgets, contracts, contractors, selecting products, not to mention potential delays when remodeling; all of which are stressful. But all is not so gloomy since you’ll be getting what you want at the end. The building isn’t going to be any easier, since you’ll also need to find a place to stay during the process and moving, in general, is also stressful.   

Costs: It’s really an age old question, should you renovate, or build? The general assumption is that renovation is less costly than building. This is true to a certain extent, but renovation has a very broad and large range. The renovation could be just doing minor fixes in each room or a complete top to bottom remodeling job. Most of the time, when remodeling, you will find surprise expenses popping up and the budget you set for renovation can quickly get out of hand if you’re not careful, so this is something else to put in mind.

But the general rule is that renovating within the home's existing layout generally costs 50% less which is really worth your consideration. Yet, if you’re going to change the layout and go deep into renovation that estimate is bound to jump. Building from scratch is of course costly, but in the long run, new materials combined with newer methods of construction can mean less maintenance over the years to come.

Going green: Starting from scratch and building something new has many advantages, one of them is in having more control over your energy consumption. The building materials, floor plans, and electrical and plumbing systems can all be built with energy efficiency in mind, thus reducing energy costs in the long term. Besides this, there is also the aspect of modern technology. Many old houses might be unequipped to support the electricity needed for many modern day technology. Take note again that a new electrical system can be done when renovating on a large scale.

Half-half: You might not be able to come up with enough justification to remodel, while at the same time your budget is just not enough to build. There’s nothing to say that you can’t do a little of both. You can go with partial deconstruction. You can see this often happening in buildings. If some areas of your home are not worth saving, you might be able to knock them down and build from new, while keeping other areas open for renovation.

Putting everything into context

To know if you should build or renovate doesn’t have a stand-alone answer because it depends on several other aspects and circumstances. If you’re planning to live in your house for a decent amount of time, at least between 7 to 10 years, renovation is probably your answer, but you have to make sure that the structure of the house is stable enough to undergo major renovations. Be wary of doing major renovations in a house with foundation or drainage problems, for example. When it comes to building, it’s costly, but if you have the budget, building from scratch is an opportunity too good to pass up. Put everything into context and you’ll get your answer and your dream house.

About the author

Ann Hills

My name is Ann Hills and I am a food blogger and a yoga teacher. When I was a child, I often got around my mother and watched her cooking in our kitchen. My mom always says to me that: “Kitchen is the heart of any home”. I strongly believe in her saying that’s reason why I prefer spending my money to make my home better than other stuff.

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