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Should I Build Brand New or Remodel My Existing Home?

by | Nov 30, 2020 | blog, Custom Home Construction, Energy Efficient Homes, Home Building resource, Remodeling | 0 comments

Should I Build or Remodel?

You and your spouse will be retiring in a few years. You’re both looking forward to slowing down, spending time together traveling, volunteering, and enjoying your hobbies. But you’re having trouble agreeing on where you will live once you retire. Each of you is thinking: “Should I build or remodel?”

You’ve lived in your current home for more than twenty years and love it. It’s filled with happy memories, and you can’t imagine living anywhere else.

However, there are also major problems with your house. For example, the kitchen layout has never been convenient, the bathroom needs updating, you’d like to replace the windows with more energy-efficient ones, expand entertaining space for family visits, and the list goes on.

The two of you have also discussed building a new home when you retire. You’d like to put together all your ideas and create the home you’ve always dreamed of.


The Decision to Build Brand New or Remodel Your Existing Home

It’s easy to update your clothes, haircut, décor, or car, but when it’s your home, it’s a more complex process with lots of decisions to make. Many homeowners wonder: should I build or remodel?

Frankly, there’s no easy answer. It all depends on what you want, how much you have to spend, and how long you plan to live in the house. While it’s tempting to only focus on cost to make a decision, you may end up damaging your long-term value or leaving a home you love when you didn’t have to.

The following article offers a few tips to help you choose between remodeling your home versus building a custom home. Jewell Homes can’t make your decision for you, but they can give you enough information to make the choice a bit easier.


What’s Most Important When Rethinking Your Home

As you discuss your various options, the first step should be to narrow down the list of what is most important to you both. Do you want a ranch home with everything on one level or a 2-story house? Do you want to live closer to your children and grandchildren? Will you need a bathroom that can accommodate a wheelchair?

For example, if you currently live in a 2-story home, is there a room on the first floor that can be transformed into a master suite if necessary? Will you need another full bath? How about bringing the laundry room up from the basement? Can all the doorways be widened?

Identify your most important wants and needs to improve the way your home looks and functions. Determine whether your existing home can be remodeled to match what you need. This will get you closer to the answer to the question of “should I build or remodel?” It will also help you determine your budget, time frame, and more.

Additionally, think about other aspects of your house. Does it have historic charm and high-quality workmanship you won’t find elsewhere? Have your HVAC, electrical, or plumbing systems received upgrades within the last few years? If so, then staying put may be a better choice.

Below is a list of other things that might help you decide to remodel:

  • You want a home in a neighborhood with mature trees, just like the one you’re in.
  • There are no available open lots in your community.
  • Property values are rising in your neighborhood.
  • You’d rather not go through the process of packing and moving.
  • You’d prefer to invest in your current home rather than pay for moving and closing costs.
  • You have the finances available to make all the changes in your existing home.
  • You love your neighborhood and have a strong emotional attachment to your home.

On the other hand, here are some points to think about if you lean more toward building a new home:

  • Your current home can’t be remodeled the way you need and want it to.
  • Your existing home is too large for you to properly take care of, and you want to downsize.
  • The cost of remodeling will cost more than its resale value.
  • There are open lots available in an area you like.
  • Your family is willing and available to help you pack your belongings.


What Are the Financial Expenses and Expectations When Building or Renovating?

Building a new home

In a strictly cost-per-square-foot comparison, new construction is usually much less expensive than remodeling. So why is this?

Essentially, there’s a clean slate when building a house from the ground up. Everything is planned out, and appliances, windows, etc., are chosen in advance for their cost-effectiveness. Tradespeople know when to arrive and the time frame to do their work.

Remodeling Lower level

However, when remodeling a home, the contractor must work within the existing footprint. Walls may be taken down, windows and flooring removed and replaced, doorways closed or opened, etc.  Connecting new and old sections of a house can also create major issues. This means labor costs are much higher on a remodeling project. Plus, once walls are taken down, you never know what you’ll find. There may be wood rot, bad wiring, or termites. Surprises like this will always cost more money and take more time.

Should I Build or Remodel to Go Green

You are concerned about the environment and want a home that is energy efficient. Because of updated green building abilities, new construction is often faster than remodeling. But which one has less of a negative environmental impact?

Some eco-friendly innovations are available for remodeling. You can change out appliances, siding, and windows for ones with better efficiency. However, it’s more difficult to make major structural changes like high-efficiency insulation, better HVAC ventilation, or a way to save water more effectively.

Even with a major remodel, it may be difficult to have enough roof space to add solar panels, use geothermal power for your heating and air conditioning, tightly seal your home, or add systems to collect and filter rainwater.

At first glance, it may seem cheaper to remodel than build, but many new, green building techniques will offer a long-term saving on utility bills. You can also reduce your carbon footprint and impact on the environment while creating a more sustainable lifestyle.


Today’s Energy Efficient Homes

Today’s homes are built with greater energy efficiency. To keep cold and heat where it needs to be, windows have up to three panes of glass. Insulation can be rolled or sprayed between studs from the basement to the attic for an airtight home. In different zones and times of day, the HVAC system can be regulated throughout the house. It may be incredibly expensive or just plain impossible to retrofit an older home to match newly built homes’ efficiency.


New Home Floor Plans

Great rooms have become the norm in new construction. An open floor plan has replaced individual small rooms with better airflow between entertaining, eating, and cooking areas. Also, because HVAC systems and insulation have become more effective, there is no need to close off unused areas to save on utility bills, as many owners of older homes must do.

Floor plans


Windows, Sunlight, and Breezes

A newly built house with an open floor plan and lots of windows offers the benefit of sunshine to illuminate and warm the structure. With so much natural light, there is less need for artificial lighting, lowering your utility costs. Opening all the windows on a breezy day is an option; adding ceiling fans will help the airflow throughout the house and assist the HVAC system, too.

Jewell Homes

Should I Build or Remodel: The Hassle Factor

Besides being aware of finances and going green, you also need to keep in mind how much of a hassle it will be to remodel versus building new. Both are big projects that have their challenges and issues.

You, as the potential client, are the only one who can decide how much you can tolerate. A major renovation in your current home means living in a noisy construction zone every day – possibly for three to six months. You’ll be surrounded by dirt, dust, and the inconvenience of potentially staying somewhere else for a while. If you have pets, a remodeling project can be very disturbing to them.

If you decide to build a new home, your daily schedule may not be impacted directly, but construction may take at least six months. You’ll need to make many decisions regarding finishes, paint colors, cabinet styles, and more. If you sell your home before completion, you’ll need to find somewhere to live temporarily.

Only you and your spouse can decide how much hassle and disruption is worth the final product.


Should I Build or Remodel: The Time Frame

Now you know that no matter what kind of project you decide on, your life will be disrupted. They both require enough time to be done correctly, completely, and with quality. However, with a remodeling project, you may be able to have it done in a specific order and plan appropriately to use your home throughout most of it.

A major remodeling project, like converting an attic into a bedroom, can take at least ten weeks.  Refinishing hardwood floors or a bathroom renovation can take about two weeks and will be fairly disruptive. You’ll need to leave your home to avoid stain and sealant fumes or when they shut off the water for long periods. Most remodeling projects also come with lots of noise, so if you work from home, you’ll need to find a new location.

Unfortunately, if your home requires several projects for a complete remodel, many cannot be done simultaneously. This means construction could take more than six months – longer than building an entirely new house.

New construction usually takes longer than remodeling, approximately six to seven months from when they break ground to when they hand you your keys. However, if your floor plan is highly customized, it may take your builder longer to complete it.

Here are other things that can delay or lengthen the amount of time it takes to build your new home:

  • Bad weather can delay product delivery or the ability to work.
  • Obtaining licenses and building permits.
  • Style, design, and complexity of the plan.
  • Size of the house.
  • Who your builder is – the best ones often have a waiting list.

It can be quite complicated to build a new house, sometimes more than remodeling a current home. So, if you choose new construction, be prepared to be patient.


Building New or Remodeling Your Existing Home Should Factor in, How Long You Plan to Live There

Deciding on a Remodel

Whether you do a major remodel or build a new home, an important factor in your decision is how long you plan to live in the house once it’s complete.

If you’re going to stay in your current home for less than six more years, the best short-term benefits lie in remodeling. Updates are usually paid for with the equity in your home and can be paid off in just a few years. To create a better living space, remodel and update bathrooms and kitchens for the best resale value. You can increase your return on investment and maximize the sales price when you’re ready to sell.

If you see your new construction as your forever home, building it may be more costly than remodeling, but overall it’s a better choice. You can create your dream home, have all the amenities you’re looking for, and not worry about needing to add a new roof, a new HVAC system, or doing any major upgrades for the rest of your life. When you sell your current home, that financial gain will go right toward paying for the new construction, so your mortgage payment may be exceptionally low or even nonexistent. You can just enjoy your new home for years to come.


When it Comes to New Construction or Renovation, There are No Cut-and-Dried Answers

There are no cut and dried answers to whether you should choose to remodel your existing home or build a new one. Depending on your situation, there are plenty of benefits to each. Carefully analyze and understand your lifestyle, financial goals, timeline, and how many interruptions you can manage. But to finally have the home you’ve always dreamed of, it’s well worth it.

Jewell Homes

Whether you want to build a new house or remodel your current residence, Jewell Homes can help. Their experts will assist you in choosing a floor plan that is comfortable, ideal for entertaining, eco-friendly, and matches your dreams and lifestyle.

Jewell Homes has been in business for many years and has designed, built, or remodeled hundreds of homes throughout southeastern Wisconsin. It’s a family-owned business, which means you work directly with John and Jamie Jewell, who will give you a dream home experience.

Contact Jewell Homes today for an appointment, free of charge. They can help you decide whether you should build a new home or remodel your current home when you retire.