Whether to build new or remodel your existing home…
Your family is growing, your parents are moving in, you have a lifestyle variation…it’s time to change your home! Looking at the options of remodeling or building a new home can be confusing, comparing all the pros and cons. We have broken down some of the bigger issues when deciding between the two.
On a cost-per-square-foot basis, remodeling is usually much more expensive than new construction. Building new can be less expensive because you are starting with a clean slate. On the other hand, when a whole house remodel is undertaken, the builder is forced to work with the existing structure. Walls must be removed before they can be rebuilt, old window and door openings must be closed before the new openings are cut, etc. Existing home problems (such as cracks in plaster or drywall) may force the builder to make compromises to connect the old and new portions of the house together. Making an open-concept design change means removing walls with the challenge that you don’t really know what’s inside that wall. With remodeling, you can always count on surprises and all surprises cost money. But the decision shouldn’t be based on construction costs alone. Morris explains that there is value in your existing home that may surpass these costs, “a new home could be less expensive but can the new homes keep their precious memories, family events, and keep historical structures intact? Many clients decide they will preserve the home’s family history.” It should also be considered that new construction has extra costs such as architect, financing, and closing costs as well as moving expenses.
While the ease of new construction might be preferred, the greater potential for reducing your carbon impact during a renovation is very apparent over a 75-year lifespan of a home or building. The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently stated that the greenest building may be the one you already own. A new building that is 30% more energy-efficient than the average building could take 10 to 80 years to overcome the negative carbon impact that comes with new construction versus renovation. There is an immense amount of energy and CO2 locked into existing buildings that, when kept at least partially intact, provides a savings in carbon dioxide compared to the whole demolition of an existing structure to build new. Although, it’s important to keep in mind that many builders are making an effort to build greener, more sustainable homes. Kogelschatz is a Certified Green Professional and says, “new homes are made with more energy-efficient materials and will be offset long-term.” His homes are energy-efficient and create less of a negative impact on the environment as well as saving money on heating and cooling costs.
Morris gives his top reasons for remodeling,
- You will increase your home’s value.
- You can keep your memories and your family’s homestead in a prideful way.
- You can personalize your existing home to accommodate growth or lifestyle needs. Morris says that remodeling can be very rewarding for the design/build team as well as the homeowner, seeing what dramatic and needed changes they can make to their current homes. Morris adds, “a remodel can also be less of an undertaking for the homeowner by not having to find a lot, site plans, zoning, setback ordinances, etc.” Remodeling can also be completed in phases per needs and budgetary constrictions whereas a new home requires the whole thing to be done at once.
Why build new?
Kogelschatz gives his top three reasons for building new,
- The architecture is designed around you and your lifestyle.
- The interior design reflects your tastes.
- You pick the location where you want to build and live.
He also describes the home building process as really fun! “I wouldn’t recommend building new if it wasn’t fun. Being able to design a home around the client, makes for an enjoyable experience for the client and for us.” There is also less maintenance with a new home because everything is fresh and new. There is a level of personalization that becomes more accessible when starting with a blank slate.
The choice comes down to priorities for your lifestyle. The decision may be easy after weighing all the options: cost, ecological footprint, personalization, location, and novelty; but it might require more thought. Contact the Home Builders Association for more information about builders and remodelers that are right for you.
*Thank you to the very talented Rich Kogelschatz and Kirk Morris for their experience and insight.