Should You Remodel or Tear Down and Rebuild?

Whether you’re considering buying a fixer-upper or already own a house that could use a little TLC, you may have wondered if it’s worth renovating or tearing down and rebuilding altogether. The pros and cons of each are pretty obvious: remodeling seems more affordable and less drastic, while tearing down and rebuilding would afford you with a brand new home from the very foundation to its finishes.

The question is, which route should you take?

Before you make this critical decision, there are a few things you need to think about first.

How In-Depth Are the Improvements That Need to Be Made?

Before you decide whether to renovate or rebuild, consider how extensive the improvements need to be. Some projects might not necessarily warrant a complete teardown, such as a kitchen makeover or bathroom addition. Even enlarging a room doesn’t always justify tearing down the home and building a new one.

But if the job entails structural changes, you may want to think about starting over rather than improving on the existing structure. If you’re completely reconfiguring the layout of the home, that can also be grounds for a rebuild. Some gut jobs can become so in-depth that it’s not even worth salvaging the existing walls.

Rebuilding a new home can also provide you with more flexibility to change up the entire architecture of the home. You can add square footage, change the layout, add another level, and increase the ceiling height. All of these changes would be extremely difficult if you were to improve the existing structure.

Is a Rebuild Allowed in Your Area?

Ripping down the old house and building a new one might not even be permitted in your particular jurisdiction. Before you make any plans, you should call the city and find out what the rules are surrounding rebuilds. Some areas don’t allow some types of properties in certain locales to be torn down, especially those that are considered historical or are of a certain age.

Building a new house in a very old neighborhood will likely change the look and feel of the street that it sits on, and the city might have a problem with that. Make sure you check with the local government office to find out what the rules are when it comes to tearing down homes in favor of new ones.

Will a New Build Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb?

Even if you’re approved for a new build, you may want to consider how different your new home will look compared to the existing properties on the street. If you choose to tear down the home and build a new one, how different are you planning to make it from the rest of the homes? Will it fit in with the neighborhood or stand out in a negative way?

If the homes in the area are particularly old, perhaps a gut job might be the better option. While you certainly don’t want to have a cookie-cutter home, you also don’t necessarily want it to look like it doesn’t belong.

Are the “Bones” of the Home In Decent Shape?

Sometimes the existing structure isn’t worth salvaging. If you’re thinking about renovating the home, make sure that it’s got a solid foundation and structure first. If the bones are still strong, then renovating might work out in your favor.

On the other hand, a home that’s sitting on a faulty foundation or weak structure probably isn’t one you will want to improve on. Any large cracks in the foundation walls, sloping of the floors, sagging of the ceilings, and water damage are all signs that the structure has been compromised. In this case, you might be better off ripping the place down and building a more structurally-sound home.

Will You Be Sacrificing Your Home’s Charm By Tearing it Down?

Certain architectural features from old homes aren’t typically found in new construction. Arched doorways, solid-wood doors, and plaster molding are characteristics that you’ll have a hard time finding in modern architecture. If it’s important for you to maintain the original features of the home, then renovating is probably the way to go if it’s in decent shape.

What Are the Costs Associated With Both?

Obviously, one of the biggest factors to consider before deciding whether to remodel or rebuild is the cost. Before you get your heart set on one option over the other, do the math to find out the price tag for both. Get in touch with a builder to get a detailed quote for each type of project for you to compare.

Most of the time, a complete tear down and rebuild is more expensive than renovating, depending on the extent of each job and how much additional square footage you’ll be adding. But extensive renovations can become very expensive, so you’ll want to make sure to crunch the numbers before assuming that a teardown will be the costlier option.

Will the Resale Value Make it Worth it?

Have you checked to see what your return would be based on a renovation versus a rebuild? You’ll want to assess the cost of the project compared to how much you could realistically sell for in the future. Speak with an experienced real estate agent to find out how much your home is currently worth versus how much it will be valued at after either renovating or rebuilding it.

The Bottom Line

The decision between a gut job versus completely ripping the home down and building a new one in its place is a big one. But the choice is a highly personal one and the reasons why you might opt for one over the other will depend on several factors. There are so many variables involved in both options to consider before deciding which one to go with. To make sure you make the right decision, you may want to speak with the appropriate professionals to go over the costs and the work involved to help you decide.