Remodel or Build? Why Building a Home is a Better Choice

Many home-owners face a difficult question they, eventually, ask themselves:  Should we remodel our existing home or build a new one?  Though advantages could be argued for both sides of the question, there are some things to consider regarding renovations that can chalk up some real brownie points for building a home instead of renovating an older one.


The Disruption

Families must be prepared to deal with dust, noise, commotion and disruption for weeks or, often, months.  A kitchen renovation, for example, can mean a stove could be unavailable for several months, not to mention the kitchen sink.  Families with children would face an additional challenge with debris and building materials becoming a possible accident-waiting-to-happen scenario.


It should be pointed out, too, that it is not uncommon for the initial contractor’s estimate to take longer than anticipated since unforeseen glitches just, plain, happen.  Unexpectedly having to wait additional weeks or even a month or more due to unforeseen set-backs could create emotional upheaval for an entire family.


When you choose to build a new home, however, you remain comfortable where you are and look forward to being handed the keys to your dream home.


The Not-So-Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Before any renovations begin on an existing home, obtaining a permit may be necessary, depending on the project.  It’s very unwise for DIY homeowners to overlook the permit phase of any renovation project since the city can tack on fines; and, also, serious repercussions can arise if the house is ever put on the market – lenders can refuse financing on the home.


During renovation, homeowners should be prepared to face the possibility of dealing with legal requirements of having other areas of the home updated, such as outdated electrical panels, that do not meet municipal codes.  The cost to upgrade other components of the home that weren’t included in the renovation budget can run into hundreds or thousands of dollars.


On top of all that, it is not uncommon to discover hidden problems once renovations begin –  pulling up flooring, tearing down walls and eliminating ceilings can reveal things homeowners lived with but were unaware of:  termite/rodent damage, mold, shoddy electrical or plumbing systems and more.  Unexpected repairs can become a several-thousand-dollar cost, or more.


According to renovation expert, Bob Villa, of the Emmy-winning “This Old House” TV series, homeowners should sock away an additional 10% to 25% of the renovation cost to cover possible/probable unintended expenses.



Not all home-improvements will benefit a homeowner as much as one might imagine when it comes time to sell.  A good return on investment, or ROI, will happen only if renovations are in sync with what would be expected according to the market value of the neighborhood.  Out-pricing the market will yield little return on renovations if the home is sold, down the road.


Here are a few examples of remodeling projects that generate an ROI of 70% or less, according to Remodeling Magazine, which compared the cost for 29 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retained at resale, during 2017.  A total of 99 US markets were involved with the comparison study.


Mid-range Projects:


* Backyard Patio – Job Cost: $48,167 – Resale: $29,217 – Cost Recouped: 60.7%


* Bathroom Addition – Job Cost: $39,691 – Resale: $22,454 – Cost Recouped: 56.6%


* Bathroom Remodel – Job Cost: $16,778 – Resale: $11,641 – Cost Recouped: 69.4%


* Deck Addition (composite) – Job Cost: $16,408 – Resale: $10,190 – Cost Recouped: 62.1%


* Major Kitchen Remodel – Job Cost: $58,884 – Resale: $41,234 – Cost Recouped: 70.0%


* Master Suite Addition – Job Cost: $111,262 – Resale: $76,706 – Cost Recouped: 68.9%


Up-scale Projects:


* Bathroom Addition – Job Cost: $76,733 – Resale: $45,622 – Cost Recouped: 59.5%


* Bathroom Remodel – Job Cost: $56,630 – Resale: $33,792 – Cost Recouped: 59.7%


* Deck Addition (composite) – Job Cost: $37,008 – Resale: $20,987 – Cost Recouped: 56.7%


* Master Suite Addition – Job Cost: $238,472 – Resale: $143,109 – Cost Recouped: 60.0%


* Window Replacement (Vinyl) – Job Cost: $14,836 – Resale: $10,379 – Cost Recouped: 70.0%


Hiring a Contractor

Finding a reputable contractor is crucial.  Any homeowner should request a client list from any contractor being considered; and the contractor should be more than willing to supply one.  If not, then buyer beware!  Making sure a contractor is licensed, bonded and insured is of the utmost importance; and asking for proof is not out of line.  After all, no homeowner wants to get slapped with a lawsuit if a contractor or a contractor’s employee becomes injured while renovations are taking place.


Building a New Home

When one decides to build a new home, perks abound.  Buyers can customize their preferences and participate in the process of creating a living space specifically tailored to one’s interests and tastes.  Choosing flooring, counter-tops, cabinetry, lighting, and other niceties is exciting since one can place one’s personal signature on the finished product – and the feeling of everything throughout the entire home being new is a bonus!


Then, there is the building envelope of new homes.  New building codes incorporate much higher energy-efficiency standards; and tighter-sealed building envelopes prevent heated or cooled air from escaping as well as preventing cold, heat and humidity from entering.  High-efficiency doors and windows – including triple and quadruple-paned windows – minimize the transfer of heat, whether it is from warm-to-cold or cold-to-warm.


Reducing utility bills is of interest to any home-owner; and when newly-constructed homes include ‘green’ systems and appliances such as high-efficiency stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers, water heaters, furnaces and AC systems, monthly utility bills become, noticeably, reduced.


Less maintenance and fewer repairs is as biggie, as well, when one chooses to build a new home.  The time, effort and money one would devote to replacing carpet, appliances, kitchen cabinets, flooring and roofing in an existing home can be daunting.  But when one is handed the keys to a new home, everything from the appliances to the HVAC system to the roof are brand new –  acquiring peace of mind has no price-tag.


Buying new construction, also, involves embracing an enhanced lifestyle.  Master-planned communities are thoughtfully designed to offer a plethora of coveted amenities such as parks, bike and hike trails, community pools and clubhouses, easy access to schools and transit, and more – all, of which, add enjoyment, quality and convenience to everyday activities.  It’s all about families loving how they live because they love where they live!

Mike Johnson

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