Should You Remodel Your Existing Home or Build New?

Spending more time at home has many of us rethinking our living space and how we use it and with the market hot right now, many people are deciding to put their current home up for sale for something new. The topic of whether it’s better to remodel your current home or build a new one has been much discussed, and there’s a reason for that. The answer to what makes the most sense is heavily dependent on each homeowner’s particular situation, needs, and values. So is it time to move on or make the investment in upgrading your current space?  Today, we’ve detailed a few considerations to help you determine the best move for your particular circumstances.

1) Consider your budget. 

Because it’s a number one practical consideration, assessing your finances is the best place to start. As a general rule, building a home requires a larger investment up front since you’ll need money on a down payment, whereas renovating can be done in installments as funds become available.

So if your financial situation lends itself more toward incremental improvements, remodeling may be the better solution. If you have or can work toward having relatively substantive savings, or if you have the ability to sell a current home to amass enough for a down payment, building a home may make more sense. Before you commit to either course of action, remember to thoroughly run the numbers on your mortgage and lending options for building new, as well as the quotes you receive for the particular renovations you’re considering.

Beyond this, it’s important to understand that if you elect to remodel rather than build, you’ll need to have a “buffer fund.” While this is a smart practice in any situation, it’s vital in remodeling because you can’t foresee and predict the funds required as easily as you can when you build. The reason for this is simple: when you build, you’re starting new. When you remodel, on the other hand, you may run into unexpected issues, such as wiring that needs to be completely redone because it isn’t up to code or rotten siding you didn’t know was compromised until you uncovered it.

Finally, when assessing finances, remember to think long term. Building new may cost more up front, but you may have the opportunity to save in the long run by having a home designed fully the way you want it and by saving on monthly expenses like utility bills through energy-efficient features.

2) Consider the extent of the changes you wish to make. 

Next, ask yourself how many changes you want to make if you remodel and how major those changes would be. For example, if you love your current home and just want to give it a face lift with new kitchen cabinets and appliances or an updated master bath, it may make more sense for you to remodel.

If, on the other hand, you’re considering major modifications to your layout, you’re finding that you don’t have enough space and will need an addition, or you want a full-home makeover, you should look at building new. For one thing, the cost of a major home makeover may turn out to be comparable or more expensive than selling your current home and building new. For another, you may be limited in which renovations you’re actually able to complete due to structural stipulations or zoning restrictions and city ordinances. So ask yourself what isn’t working about your current situation and what it would take to make changes that would satisfy you long-term.

3) Consider your  location needs. 

There’s a reason that “Location, location, location!” is an oft-repeated maxim. If you like your current community and neighborhood, your kids are in the schools you want them to be in, or you love the older architectural details of you home, those aren’t things you should give up lightly. If, on the other hand, moving to a new home community would give you access to better schools, an easier work commute, better community and city amenities, well-planned neighborhoods, etc., then building is better.

4) Consider your patience level. 

If you haven’t lived through a remodel before, one consideration you may not know to take into account is the process itself. While some homeowners may have the luxury of staying with relatives or renting short-term during a remodel, most homeowners elect to live on-premise during renovation.

If you fall into this latter category, you need to expect that your daily routine will be extremely disrupted throughout the renovation process. If you’re remodeling one area of your home--say your kitchen or bathroom--you’ll need to move everything out of it and rearrange the rest of the house to accommodate your daily needs. A kitchen remodel means finding a spot to relocate your refrigeration and freezer, meal preparation without many appliances, and limited-access to running water for cooking or dishes until the remodel is completed. 

You’ll also need to clear a corridor between your entrance door and the space for your contractors (and their tools) to pass through. (Depending on the location and extent of the project, you may need to tape off an entire area of your home.) Beyond rearranging, you’ll need to expect that your contractors will be in your home most of the time, eliminating much of your privacy, and that construction noises and dust will permeate into the rest of your home.

Renovating your home while you’re living in it is certainly doable, but you need to be prepared to make sacrifices and remain flexible. Also, be aware that estimated timelines are in fact estimates rather than hard deadlines--there are any number of reasons why the original timeline might need to be adjusted.

If you’re building a home, however, the work will be completed off-site and without disruption to your routine. While you will be invited to check in on the progress of your home while it’s being built, you won’t need to change your life to accommodate its completion. Instead, once your home has been constructed, you will walk into a finished, move-in ready product.

5) Consider your plans for the future. 

Finally, start to think about where you see yourself five, ten, and twenty years from now. If you plan to make Delaware your long-term home, it’s smart to invest in the future you want and to cash in on that future early. Perhaps your current home (with minor fixes) is that future, but if you dream of raising a family or retiring in a home that’s different from the one you currently own, start building that dream now. As with anything in life, “someday” may not happen if you don’t take the first step today.

Thinking about building new construction? Explore our communities in Wilmington and Middletown, DE to see what a new construction home can offer. 


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