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Thread: Remodeling a home vs. a new home build

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    Full of rage and sadness San Juan Sun's Avatar
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    Default Remodeling a home vs. a new home build

    My wife and I might have the chance to choose one or the other of these options in the next few months. Both are on adjacent pieces of property, each with plenty of room to do whatever we wanted.

    Option A: buy and remodel a 40 year old home. It's well built, spacious, but very dated and would eventually require a complete overhaul. I will not be living near this property until next summer, so I could not even really start the remodeling until then. Even then, due to personal reasons, the remodel may be delayed by a year or two or three.

    Option B: build a new home. We would be able to start this summer, and would be close to being ready by the time we move next June. We would be able to build what we want, the first time around. However, I have to wonder if it would be more pricey to build a new home (I've heard nightmare stories about remodels too, though).

    The main variables at play seem to be:

    1. Length of time till the home is complete
    2. Cost
    3. The layout and features of the end product

    We have a nice architect in the family, and are great friends with a really wonderful interior designer who would help us out. We do need to make a decision in the next month or two.

    This will be the last home I ever live in, hopefully. We want to do it right. We swing back and forth between the two options because of sentimental attachment to the existing house.

    Anyone have any insight? TIA.
    "Sure, I fought. I had to fight all my life just to survive. They were all against me. Tried every dirty trick to cut me down, but I beat the bastards and left them in the ditch."

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    Where's Wallace? Surfah's Avatar
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    Build new.
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    My Mic Sounds Nice falafel's Avatar
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    No insight, but I'd love to see a before photo of the existing home.

    Also, how big is the existing home? I remember you talking once about putting in a theater. Is this place big enough for you to live and grow for the next 50 years?
    Ain't it like most people, I'm no different. We love to talk on things we don't know about.

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    Full of rage and sadness San Juan Sun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surfah View Post
    Build new.
    Any particular reason why? That's the way I'm leaning today. I just have to convince my wife.
    "Sure, I fought. I had to fight all my life just to survive. They were all against me. Tried every dirty trick to cut me down, but I beat the bastards and left them in the ditch."

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    Full of rage and sadness San Juan Sun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by falafel View Post
    No insight, but I'd love to see a before photo of the existing home.

    Also, how big is the existing home? I remember you talking once about putting in a theater. Is this place big enough for you to live and grow for the next 50 years?
    The existing home is probably 2000-2500 square feet. 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath. It has a garage that could easily be converted into a rec room/theater, and there's plenty of room around to add on.
    "Sure, I fought. I had to fight all my life just to survive. They were all against me. Tried every dirty trick to cut me down, but I beat the bastards and left them in the ditch."

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    My Mic Sounds Nice falafel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Juan Sun View Post
    The existing home is probably 2000-2500 square feet. 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath. It has a garage that could easily be converted into a rec room/theater, and there's plenty of room around to add on.
    Are you done having kids? Can they all fit comfortably?

    I'm no builder, but I watch a lot of HGTV. The remodels always seem to encounter costly, unanticipated problems.
    Ain't it like most people, I'm no different. We love to talk on things we don't know about.

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    Full of rage and sadness San Juan Sun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by falafel View Post
    Are you done having kids? Can they all fit comfortably?

    I'm no builder, but I watch a lot of HGTV. The remodels always seem to encounter costly, unanticipated problems.
    4 kids. Probably one more eventually. I think they'd fit comfortably as younger kids in either scenario. When they get older, maybe not so much with option A.

    Yes, I'm worried about cost overruns and other problems with the remodel too.
    "Sure, I fought. I had to fight all my life just to survive. They were all against me. Tried every dirty trick to cut me down, but I beat the bastards and left them in the ditch."

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    Sexiest Poster in Town UteStar's Avatar
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    To be honest, it is hard to tell you without seeing the layouts, costs, etc. A remodel is a great way to go if you are in a neighborhood you like...but if the new home is right next door, that takes away from the incentive. If you are truly planning on remodeling the entire home (if it is really that dated) and you want to put in nice stuff and your own touches, a nice remodel on that size of home could run you $100K or even a bit more. If, after doing that, the prices are pretty comparable or even if the new home is a bit more, I would probably say still Build.

    For example, if the old home costs $250K to purchase, and then $100K to remodel = $350,000. If the new home is in that ball park, I would say to definitely build a new home so that it has everything you want. I know that this is kind of obvious in what I said...but remodels always seem to run into its own set of problems, especially with homes that are over 40 years old.

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    Where's Wallace? Surfah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Juan Sun View Post
    Any particular reason why? That's the way I'm leaning today. I just have to convince my wife.
    It depends on how extensive the remodel is. One of the biggest issues is layout and floor plan with a remodel. So when you said the remodel will need a complete overhaul then I assume it is extensive and you're likely tearing it down to the studs, new electrical, plumbing, maybe moving walls, etc.

    You also said, this is the last home you hope to own. So why not build your vision instead of trying to create it out of someone else's?

    Like Falafel said, remodels often have unexpected expenses. The code has changed quite a bit in 40 years, so if nothing has been updated since then, you're likely going to incur a lot of expenses just getting it to code. Not to mention, styles have changed so much: closets, bathrooms, kitchens, etc. For the most part with a new home build you won't have any surprises from your contractor requiring more money to do X because of Y.

    I think people like the idea of remodel but it's a PITA. It'd be hell, especially if you're living in it with a family while doing it to boot.
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    Full of rage and sadness San Juan Sun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surfah View Post
    It depends on how extensive the remodel is. One of the biggest issues is layout and floor plan with a remodel. So when you said the remodel will need a complete overhaul then I assume it is extensive and you're likely tearing it down to the studs, new electrical, plumbing, maybe moving walls, etc.

    You also said, this is the last home you hope to own. So why not build your vision instead of trying to create it out of someone else's?

    Like Falafel said, remodels often have unexpected expenses. The code has changed quite a bit in 40 years, so if nothing has been updated since then, you're likely going to incur a lot of expenses just getting it to code. Not to mention, styles have changed so much: closets, bathrooms, kitchens, etc. For the most part with a new home build you won't have any surprises from your contractor requiring more money to do X because of Y.

    I think people like the idea of remodel but it's a PITA. It'd be hell, especially if you're living in it with a family while doing it to boot.
    Thank you. I'm going to call my wife and read her this post right now. Said what I felt perfectly. Thanks to Utestar and falafel too.
    "Sure, I fought. I had to fight all my life just to survive. They were all against me. Tried every dirty trick to cut me down, but I beat the bastards and left them in the ditch."

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    FWIW, my brother is starting a very basic kitchen/nook/deck remodel on his 25 yr old home and is looking at ~$55k+ just for this area. They have minimal design changes in this bid and little or no electrical and plumbing work. Nothing structural.

    Doing the whole house could add a significant amount of money beyond this. Figure an easy $5k per bathroom, $1k - $3k per bedroom for paint/flooring/moldings, etc. Keep that in mind.

    I vote build the house exactly the way you want it. Just don't close on it until you are CERTAIN everything is complete, no matter how much the builder promises to "fix it next week". BTDT.

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    $100k for a 2000sq ft house is really conservative. my parents just finished remodeling a kitchen, study, and yard for double that with no structural changes, minimal electrical work, and leaving drywall intact in most places.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surfah View Post
    Build new.
    less filling
    Dio perdona tante cose per un’opera di misericordia
    God forgives many things for an act of mercy
    Alessandro Manzoni

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    Where's Wallace? Surfah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pellegrino View Post
    less filling
    There is that. This seems to be a big reason why people remodel. It's cool to walk someone through your home and point out walls that once existed or ugly cabinets that used to hang on a wall or a bathroom that once wasn't. There is something to be said for taking something and putting your artistic, creative touch on something (your home, for example, is freaking rad. And I love what you have done thus far - but you're handy and able to do much of the work yourself too). But it's often a slow, tedious, and expensive process.

    I was mostly framing my argument within the constraints that SJS listed. If time, cost, and layout are his biggest concerns then building new is a no brainer to me. UteStar outlined it pretty well. I bet in the end home + remodel≈lot + build new. Plus, you're likely not going to have to make as many concessions with a new home built to your specs than the remodel. And with the size of his family he can build it to his needs now and not worry about possibly having to do a second remodel/addition down the road.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surfah View Post
    There is that. This seems to be a big reason why people remodel. It's cool to walk someone through your home and point out walls that once existed or ugly cabinets that used to hang on a wall or a bathroom that once wasn't. There is something to be said for taking something and putting your artistic, creative touch on something (your home, for example, is freaking rad. And I love what you have done thus far - but you're handy and able to do much of the work yourself too). But it's often a slow, tedious, and expensive process.

    I was mostly framing my argument within the constraints that SJS listed. If time, cost, and layout are his biggest concerns then building new is a no brainer to me. UteStar outlined it pretty well. I bet in the end home + remodel≈lot + build new. Plus, you're likely not going to have to make as many concessions with a new home built to your specs than the remodel. And with the size of his family he can build it to his needs now and not worry about possibly having to do a second remodel/addition down the road.
    a simple tastes great would have said all that.
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    Where's Wallace? Surfah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pellegrino View Post
    a simple tastes great would have said all that.
    I avoid the very appearance of evil.
    "Nobody listens to Turtle."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surfah View Post
    I avoid the very appearance of evil.
    Brother, why avoid the benefits of mild barley drinks?

    In my mind there are a few instances where a remodel makes far more sense. In very old homes with very ornately carved moldings, high quality wood floors, special touches like a beautiful staircase, fireplace, or pillasters, etc.

    Other than that, I am completely with you and agree the new build is easier to accomplish and the final price will likely be very similar. My wife wants to make a few mods to our house and honestly I may be better off selling my home and buying a new one than sinking any money into this current house (which is likely a losing cause).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Surfah View Post
    I avoid the very appearance of evil.
    Well played. Next round's on me?
    Dio perdona tante cose per un’opera di misericordia
    God forgives many things for an act of mercy
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    Member Sans Gravitas Donuthole's Avatar
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    Storage space. For some reason, nobody cared about it 40 years ago. Maybe it's because 40 years ago people lived with less stuff. Maybe it was acceptable just to have your "stuff" out where everyone could see it. Maybe it was because people thought attics and basements were the best places to store extra stuff before realizing that meant hauling stuff upstairs or down some rickety ladder. Maybe someone who was alive 40 years ago can offer another reason. But whatever the reason, 40 years ago, closets were tiny, storage rooms were non-existent, pantries were rare, and garages were big enough for mid-size cars and nothing more.

    If you remodel, you're going to want to add storage space in the form of bigger bedroom and linen closets, pantry space, and storage. Perhaps the 40-year old house of which you speak had an abundance of those things already, in which case this post is moot. I suspect, however, that's not the case. My point is that adding more storage space eats away at living space. Today's floor plans are designed to provide both, and it's very unlikely that you're going to get that from a remodel of a 40-year old house without completely gutting it.

    Also, 40 years ago was right smack during the "split-level abomination," when people were sure it would be brilliant to make sure you had to go up or down some stairs to go anywhere in your house. If the house at issue here has any split-level, tri-level, or split-entry features, STFA. I presume this isn't the case, as today people have realized how foolish it is to plan to retire in a home with stairs all over the place.

    All in all, 40 years old isn't old enough to be worth a complete remodel, in my opinion. It simply doesn't have the history to make it worth the hassle and cost. And as the neighborhood isn't an issue, there's really no question in my mind. Build new.
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    Stepping Razor wuapinmon's Avatar
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    Having purchased a 1962 vintage home, if you can afford the new home, I'd recommend going with new. You can always put in hardwood floors and fancy upgrades later. Old houses never have two windows the same size, the molding won't be square, the sheetrock tape and nails will pop and crack, the insulation always needs to be redone/added to, the foundation will have settled, the sewer line is probably cast iron and will be corroded, roofs get old, and they pull up the old one and find rot under the felt in the plywood, the ductwork is full of dirt and mold, the lightswitches make loud clicks when you flip them (waking up babies). The shed won't match the house, the cabinets will be outdiated, etc.

    I had to buy an older home because of my salary limitations. I can't imagine that'll be a problem for someone in your profession.
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    We are finishing our home in another month. I recommend you build a house and do it soon. The real estate market is likely getting close to as low as it can get. Mortage rates are also at all time lows. These conditions are not going to last forever. Commodities and building materials are as low as they are likely to get as well. GCs and sub-contractors are hungry, hungry hippos looking for work. Further, the only ones still standing are the most competent and professional in their trade. The bust drove all the riff-raff out of business. Perhaps it is all just the end of our consumption based run and the world is also coming to an end, I don't know. Now all of these market conditions are equally applicable to a remodel as well as a build, I understand. However, you have the chance to build exactly what you want and the house is likely to not need any massive work during your lifetime. If you remodel significant portions of the old structure will continue and you are always running that risk of having to fix major structural issues down the road when commodities and building materials are much, much higher. In the end you will get exactly what you want, you will get it as cheap as one can get it and you will have a peace of mind that it was built right from the beginning.

    Unless you are remodeling some old house with exceptional character or of emotional family/personal heirloom attraction, I recommend you build what you want and do it in the next year or so. I originally wanted to restore an old home in our town of significant historical value, but the current owners refused to sell. We then began plans for our custom home and we could not be happier- well I ain't happy that the local city council can force me to connect to their municipal sewer system versus a septic tank but other than that we are happier than clams in a neverending supply of fresh mud. As soon as DuckBoy sends me my lifetime supply of windex all will be well!
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    Full of rage and sadness San Juan Sun's Avatar
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    Time for an update:

    So we were all set to build a new home...

    And then a home adjacent to my wife's family's ranch became available. It's about 10 years old, 3000 sq feet. We like it a lot, althought it would require a total renovation/expansion of the kitchen and great room.

    We would also add an extra bedroom and rec room. (My BiL who lives next door would be the contractor).

    The total cost of buying/remodeling is a lot less than building right now. Plus, we have a month-to-month lease so we can buy, remodel, and then move in. It would sure beat trying live there during the renovation.

    In the end, the heart of the home (kitchen and great room) would still be exactly what my wife wants. For a lot less money.

    Here's the interesting thing though: niether us or the potential sellers have a realtor. They don't really know what the market value looks like, but they are to the point that they need to sell, and we're serendipitously looking to buy. Any ideas on negotiaing a price? Just get an appraisal? Will be nice for the sellers to not pay 6%.
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Juan Sun View Post
    Time for an update:

    So we were all set to build a new home...

    And then a home adjacent to my wife's family's ranch became available. It's about 10 years old, 3000 sq feet. We like it a lot, althought it would require a total renovation/expansion of the kitchen and great room.

    We would also add an extra bedroom and rec room. (My BiL who lives next door would be the contractor).

    The total cost of buying/remodeling is a lot less than building right now. Plus, we have a month-to-month lease so we can buy, remodel, and then move in. It would sure beat trying live there during the renovation.

    In the end, the heart of the home (kitchen and great room) would still be exactly what my wife wants. For a lot less money.

    Here's the interesting thing though: niether us or the potential sellers have a realtor. They don't really know what the market value looks like, but they are to the point that they need to sell, and we're serendipitously looking to buy. Any ideas on negotiaing a price? Just get an appraisal? Will be nice for the sellers to not pay 6%.
    Definitely avoid a realtor at all costs. You can certainly look at listings to see what is available and make your own price comparisons. If you are in a market with more than a few realtors, you can certainly get one of them to give the seller a market analysis on his home. But you probably want to avoid this as the realtor is going to likely give them a high estimate, because he will want them to list the home with him.

    You could also just hire an appraiser on your own, or agree to a purchase price based on the average of 2 appraisers. But I'd avoid that to. I'd recommend simply doing your own market analysis. If you were looking to build you should know what it costs per foot to build new. Then come up with an offer. The less information the seller has, the better deal you might get. If their lack of information makes them think their house is worth more than you do, then you need to help them get more information about why it's not worth so much.

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    вот так штука CardiacCoug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Juan Sun View Post
    Time for an update:

    So we were all set to build a new home...

    And then a home adjacent to my wife's family's ranch became available. It's about 10 years old, 3000 sq feet. We like it a lot, althought it would require a total renovation/expansion of the kitchen and great room.

    We would also add an extra bedroom and rec room. (My BiL who lives next door would be the contractor).

    The total cost of buying/remodeling is a lot less than building right now. Plus, we have a month-to-month lease so we can buy, remodel, and then move in. It would sure beat trying live there during the renovation.

    In the end, the heart of the home (kitchen and great room) would still be exactly what my wife wants. For a lot less money.

    Here's the interesting thing though: niether us or the potential sellers have a realtor. They don't really know what the market value looks like, but they are to the point that they need to sell, and we're serendipitously looking to buy. Any ideas on negotiaing a price? Just get an appraisal? Will be nice for the sellers to not pay 6%.
    We bought a house without either the seller or buyer having a realtor. But the situation was a little different -- we really wanted the house and the seller wasn't all that motivated to sell.

    I would tell the sellers that you are interested and would like to get an appraisal -- then you should get at least 2 formal appraisals.

    That would give you a starting point. I would think that the top end of any potential purchase price would be the lowest appraisal price minus 3% (splitting the benefit of having no realtor). Probably most people would tell you to make an initial offer 5-10% lower than the lowest appraisal price (depending on the market) and then expect them to counteroffer higher and go from there.

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    Full of rage and sadness San Juan Sun's Avatar
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    Looks like we have a deal in principle to buy/remodel.
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  27. #27
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    I think it is wonderful if you just to remodel your home! The advantage is that you have been living in your home so now you know exactly what you want and how you will get it. Building from scratch is not always a lot of fun. It can be very rewarding, but by the time you get to the fun stuff you want it to be over and get living in the darn thing.

    One thing I can say for sure...it is NOT less expensive to build from scratch. The materials are going up in price rapidly.

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    Full of rage and sadness San Juan Sun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Juan Sun View Post
    Looks like we have a deal in principle to buy/remodel.
    It's a done deal. Feels good.
    "Sure, I fought. I had to fight all my life just to survive. They were all against me. Tried every dirty trick to cut me down, but I beat the bastards and left them in the ditch."

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    My Mic Sounds Nice falafel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Juan Sun View Post
    It's a done deal. Feels good.
    Congrats.

    Make sure you take lots of before pics so we can see what you're working with.
    Ain't it like most people, I'm no different. We love to talk on things we don't know about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by falafel View Post
    Congrats.

    Make sure you take lots of before pics so we can see what you're working with.
    Yes and yes! Very exciting times!
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