What’s Best: Home Renovations or Building from Scratch?

Home Renovations Kitchen RenovationsTo renovate your existing home or build a whole new house from scratch… that is indeed the question! And one that’s asked time and time again by homeowners who want to change their living space in a fairly major way, but aren’t sure which route to take.

Before solving the conundrum, make sure that you know the most important issues to consider in helping you arrive at the decision that works best for your personal plans and preferences. Here are the major factors to keep in mind:

  • Know the cost of the project. Budget is one of the biggest factors for any construction project, whether it means home renovations or starting from the ground up. Cost can dictate the rate of completion as well as the complexity of the overall construction.

It can also be one of the main deciding factors in opting for home renovations vs. a complete tear-down and rebuild project. Investigate how much more it would cost to rebuild, as the success of home renovations does depend to some extent on the condition of your existing house, the integrity of the foundation, for example.

At first glance, the clear choice might seem to the one that costs less, but do bring the following points into the mix first before jumping to what appears to be the obvious conclusion.

  • Opt for the project where you get what you want. Naturally there are advantages and disadvantages when it comes to home renovations. Think through exactly what you hope to gain in terms of layout and function. Just because home renovations may cost less in the long run, ask whether will they bring enough to the table compared to the option of building a new home, where you have the appealing opportunity of a blank slate. Strike the balance that best seals the deal in meeting your needs.
    • Waste not, want not. Before giving the go ahead for a total tear-down and new home construction, consider just how much goes into a house in terms of raw materials alone. Home renovations can often reuse and effectively salvage much of the current infrastructure and existing materials, which is a plus for avoiding waste and keeping costs down.

Home Renovations

As we see with the “getting what you want” point above, however, the trade-off between these advantages and creating precisely what works for you in an attractive and well-functioning home must again be seriously considered.

  • Need to avoid damage to the site? A good example is the years of time, effort and expertise that a homeowner may have put into creating a gorgeous garden on their property which they want to maintain at all costs. In such a case, home renovations would cause less or no damage to the site, essentially preserving what is already in place. This is much harder, if not impossible to accomplish when the project involves a tear-down and new home construction.
  • Room for rooms: new rules vs. old. If your house is an older one and you aim to keep the same amount of square footage you presently enjoy, bear in mind that home renovations will allow that to happen. Building from scratch, however, means that you must of course adhere to newer permit restrictions, such as those governing the proximity of the house to the property line, for example. If you basically retain but renovate the existing structure, its original square footage allowances will be grandfathered.

Start from Square One or Have Home Renovations?

Here’s the key to making a truly informed decision. Have a professional home builder with experience in both home renovations and new home construction projects assess your situation thoroughly and present you with a cost comparison. Review the pros and cons on the advice of a qualified company so that you have all the information you need to decide whether to renovate or rebuild.

Doug Kerr - the owner of Kerr ConstructionDoug Kerr is the owner of Kerr Construction in Vancouver. With over 25 years of experience in the renovation and new home construction business, he has developed the Kerr System for designing and building. With this Design/Build system he has helped hundreds of clients achieve their dream homes while also winning multiple national and provincial building and renovations awards. Being a former world-class athlete…” Read more.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Kerr Construction.


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