Remodeling Vs. Rebuilding: Which Is Right for You?

Remodeling Vs. Rebuilding: Which Is Right for You?

  • David Lyne
  • 06/29/20

Repurpose and Reengineer or Start Anew? There's a Case to Make for Each. The Right Choice for You Depends on Many Factors and, Most Importantly, What You Want Out of Your Home

If you're a home improvement aficionado, no doubt you’ve watched plenty of DIY shows touting the virtues of remodeling a home with a great location or historical significance. Conversely, there are plenty of other shows that celebrate tearing down those old ceilings, walls, and fixtures and crafting something grandiose on the foundation that remains.
Both types of shows afford the viewer plenty of entertainment and endless opportunities to second guess the improvement decisions. That changes when the decision to remodel or rebuild involves your own home—a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly.
Aside from the inconvenience of construction, there's a lot to consider when choosing between remodeling an existing home or tearing it down and starting from scratch.
Let's take a look at four key points to consider when deciding if remodeling or rebuilding is right for you.

1. Goals

The first critical step to determining if you should remodel or rebuild is to lay out your goals. These can be broad and comprehensive or limited in scope. However, understanding your endgame once the rehab or construction starts will guide you towards the path that best suits you. Consider a few of the most common starting points:
Do you already have a great home with outstanding details, but it merely requires a bit of TLC? A renovation will ensure you maintain those favored elements while updating the house for your current needs.
Is your home structurally deficient or originally built to now outdated code standards? Does it need original elements modernized, such as plumbing and wiring, or require a new foundation? A rebuild might prove to be the smarter, more cost-effective option versus a highly invasive and expensive update.
Perhaps you need more room or a reconfigured floor plan. Or the home doesn't conform to your tastes but sits in a great neighborhood on the perfect lot near outstanding schools. In that instance, a case can be made for a remodel or rebuild, but it ultimately depends on what you hope to gain from the finished product.
Of course, your goals can involve more than just livability. Pumping time and money into a ground-up rebuild might not be the wisest decision if you hope to sell the home and garner a substantial ROI. If yours is a long term investment, such as a forever home or vacation rental, starting fresh will provide a property fit to your specs, or one with maximum earning potential.
In addition, rebuilding means a brand new house, which is an attractive prospect to many buyers. On the other hand, a remodeled home built in the mid-1990s is still a 25-year-old house. 
Whatever your desired outcome, having a sense of what you want out of the project will guide you and your contractor towards a comprehensive plan. That plan sets the tone for your project and ensures you get the home you envision. 

2. Costs

When it comes to the costs involved in remodeling or rebuilding, the considerations are two-fold. The first is the upfront dollars you're willing to spend on the project. Second is the ongoing, long term expenses of maintaining the home upon completing construction. 
Upfront costs are easy to get a handle on; your project is ultimately limited by the budget you're willing to set forth. If money is no object, or you've planned for a large outlay towards getting the home of your dreams, rebuilding is a no-brainer. If dollars are at a premium, remodeling allows you to upgrade the house on your terms.
One of the more overlooked aspects of the remodeling versus rebuilding decision is the ongoing maintenance costs once the project is completed. Typically, new homes require less maintenance than their remodeled counterparts. Depending on your short or long term plans—minimizing your ownership costs or prepping the house for a near-future sale—you'll want to factor these costs into the equation.
In certain circumstances, such as when a project involves a historic home, it's a decision you've already made. Chances are high you bought the house for its historical significance, and hope to maintain that character. In this situation, plan for more upfront remodeling dollars to help manage your after-project upkeep.
Take, for example, the wiring in an older home. It could make more financial sense to update it during the remodel when workers are on-site, and the house is in disrepair. Taking care of it now can also mitigate potentially hazardous situations in the future. Putting it off to a later time means having to revisit the problem—calling an electrician, opening up walls, and spending money. 
Regardless if you're remodeling or rebuilding, when you commit to the project, be sure the funds are available to see it through to the end. Running out of money before the hammering stops leads to even higher costs or worse consequences down the road.

3. Condition

Our third point to determining if a remodel or a rebuild is right for you also comes with two tiers of scrutiny—the shape of the home before you start the project and the condition of the house after it’s finished.
In the simplest terms, regardless of your home's current condition, if you want new everything—new floors, new windows, new kitchen, new bedrooms, new bathrooms, new roof—then a teardown and rebuild is in your future.
However, it's not always that clear. While even the most dilapidated home can shine after a renovation—watch any home improvement show for proof—the end result may not be what you had in mind.
Conversely, though the initial condition may be less than desirable, the home has an abundance of character worth keeping and integrating into the renovation project.
It's often best to take an objective view at the outset and lay out what conditions would force you to rebuild the home versus working within its original footprint. For example, is the condition of the roof or foundation in such a state that starting over is the only way to fix the issues? Or would a repair address any concerns?
Interior wise, if you're content with the floorplan and base elements of the home, a facelift may be all that's necessary to bring the home up to your standards. 
However, if conditions include an ill-conceived layout, low ceilings, or unworkable setups like lack of outlets, insufficient lighting, wood paneling, wasted or not enough space, too many walls, or too few—well, you get the idea. String enough of these types of concerns together, and you'll end up answering your own question of if you want the house remodeled or built anew.
Something to consider if the decision to remodel or rebuild reaches an impasse—request that your contractor salvage components of the current home to incorporate into new construction. It's a popular home design trend that solves the issue of maintaining ties to cherished elements but within the walls of a brand new home.

4. Time

The final consideration in deciding to remodel or rebuild is time.
Almost every home project beyond a cursory new paint job or retiling of a bathroom floor is going to present you with inconveniences, most of which revolve around the time it takes to get a project done.
There's the planning and the prep work, the demolition and cleanup, then the actual remodel or rebuild, then even more cleanup. It may not seem too bad on paper, but in reality, either project is a massive undertaking. Even the most well-coordinated projects may inevitably experience unforeseen delays.
Conventional wisdom tells us that a complete rebuild will undoubtedly take more time, but that's not always the case. Remodeling an older home can prove a rollercoaster of a project. Do historical elements need to be maintained? Does the renovation include major upheaval to the structural composition of the house? Or uproot major systems featuring piping or conduit for wiring and utilities?
All of those factors can push a remodel into extended project status and make you wish you would have chosen to rebuild from the start.
Also, as we pointed out earlier, it's essential to keep your short and long term goals for the home in mind. If your house is a keeper—your forever home—then time becomes less of a concern. Yes, you want the project completed as soon as possible, but time won't be an invisible enemy you're working feverishly to beat. In this case, choosing to rebuild to your exact specs might prove the most advantageous option.
However, if the home is a short term hold for investment purposes or simply a place of transition, remodeling is probably the way to go. The home is updated to appeal to your ideal buyer and is done in relatively short order. You can stage it and market it sooner and push towards a faster sale or rental without the drumbeat of time hammering away at your pocketbook.
Regardless if you're looking to remodel an existing space or start fresh on a new home journey, we can help make your dreams reality. Contact Seven Custom Homes today and let's schedule a time to discuss your plans and consult on what the future may hold for you.

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