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When to do a Major Remodel vs Build New

” We bought a older home in a neighborhood we love, and it needs a lot of work. What make more sense, to remodel it with an addition, or tear it down and start over with a new home?”

This is something we hear often. There is not a simple answer to this because every situation is different.

As you review the options there are some things to think about.

How much in the existing home works for you? Are there things that you want to keep and is the home is solid condition? If you are going larger, where do you want to expand? Some older homes have high quality materials and are built well but some are not. Do you want more footage in multiple areas? If your dream design includes adding ceiling height, moving alot of walls, adding an addition or two, and rerouting all the plumbing and electrical it might make sense to lean towards scraping it and starting new.

What is your vision for your new home? How many baths or bedrooms do you want vs what the home has. New Dream kitchen in mind? New kitchen location or bigger master bath? Is Aging-in-Place a thought for your forever home? When looking do to a large project of this sort you need to make sure that there are clear goals and they they also are in line with you lifestyle and budget.

What is the condition of the current home? Major Foundation Structural issues are the first to address and often are cost prohibitive to fix. Does the roof sag and what needs to be done to repair it? Are all the utilities outdated? Maybe the home has knob and tube electrical that needs to replaced, along with copper venting in the home that is corroding along with some asbestos and lead. Are you on city water and sewer, or is it well and septic. Often a septic will need to be updated with new construction or the size being increased may also affect this requirements. Not always are these signs that it needs scraped vs remodeled but the issues can compound the cost or what you want.

Are there municipal or restrictive covenants? What are the setbacks or zoning currently on the home and do they conform with current setbacks? Does this affect what you are looking to do?  Water setbacks are often an issue too.  A Variance can often be done, sometimes remodeling is a better solution when these exist.  Often lot coverage and zoning are different when you are remodeling vs building new construction so they may hinder the project one way or another. With this all in mind remember some new home builds require new site engineering and should be kept in mind as some times this is not required on remodeling in the same manner as new construction. You always want to ensure the home will blend with the community and area homes, but some municipalities have ordinances on exterior appearance. Build in Lake Villa, Libertyville or Lake Forest will all differ on these requirements existing or the severity of them.

What are you willing to spend? We have reviewed some things to think about but the most important is budget. Budget will always affect what you may want to do. Often the scope of a project will increase when you build new. Do you want this or can you build and not do this. It will often come down to wants vs needs.

Final Thoughts. Both are done, and often. Remodeling will tend to be more common.

Couple references on build vs remodel. Home in Ingleside, Illinois was on septic which only allowed the house to increase a set square footage. We added a second story to allow this without requiring a new septic per the owners wishes. Another situation was a home in Antioch, IL on a hill had some foundation/water issues and there was not a good way to divert the water and solve all problems which lended to a new build vs addition and remodel.

Where to proceed? There are always multiple ways to handle every project. It is recommended to meet with architect or design/build contractors that can handle a project of this scope and make a list of your needs and wants. Weight the Pros and Cons and ensure you are looking at all circumstances. Always make sure the design will meet your needs and budget. We have found often that a design will not always correlate with a budget, so it may be beneficial to ensure you can review preliminary designs with a one or two contractors to make sure the budget stays on tract.

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