Remodel or Buy a New House?

renovate or buy renovation before and after

Trying to Decide if to Remodel Your Current Home?

I've been there. After a decade of living in a home I onced loved, it started to not be exactly what I wanted anymore. The list of changes I dreamed about started to get really long. I began getting quotes for some of the work and they were either outrageous or they left me wondering if the contractor is crazy.

As our #1 project, my husband and I wanted this insanely large room to be 2 rooms. All we needed was A Wall. Our quotes? We got 6. They ranged from $80,000 (I am not exaggerating!) to $500. At that point we didn't even know what it should cost.

I was so fed up with the ever increasing list of things that my older home needed and the impossibility of finding a trustworthy contractor, I began to look at new homes. It's aggravating and frustrating. I cried. Seems so silly, a 54 year old woman crying in frustration, but there you are.

Too far away from I&E Cabinets

I've been working remotely for I&E Cabinets for years, handling the website and such. And if I still lived in Southern California I wouldn't have gone through what I have. I'd hire I&E and been done. But my husband and I moved out of state some time ago. Many of you will be too far away, too. Our readership is from all over. This blog is for you.

Do I Love My Home THAT Much?

This is one important question, "How attached am I to this house?". The pros and cons of remodeling my home or buying a new one left me waivering back and forth like a drunk cat. Mamie, I said to myself, do you really want to pack and unpack? Maybe I'd get terrible neighbors in a new place. Maybe the HOA would be super-meddling fools that I couldn't suffer. Maybe this and maybe that. I needed to write a list so I could stop going in circles.

 

loving being at home

When Remodeling Works

Sadly, the option to remodel isn't one everyone gets. But before you decide on that as fact, call in an architect or have a general contractor come in to brainstorm with you. For $500 you will be amazed at the insights and new ideas they will give you. For many homeowners, as you know if you watch that HGTV show, "Stay or Sell", it is amazing what you CAN do with your home to make it not only work, but shine.

Remodeling is an option when you can change up your floor plan to meet your family's needs. It's an option when you have the capital or credit. Sometimes, it's your only option because a 20% down payment on a new home might be too far of a stretch.

 

When Buying a New Home Works

First, you have to have the money and the credit. Next you need time to tour houses. Buying works when you hate your neighborhood and wouldn't mind having ANY other neighbors. Who wants to live next to a motorcycle driver who goes to work at 5 am on the weekends and doesn't believe in mufflers? Not me. I can't stand noise. Years ago, when I was pregnant, this rooster showed up out of no where in our neighborhood. It would crow before sunrise right outside my window. It was maybe 5 feet from my head. One morning I was out there waiting with a broom. He didn't come back. That doesn't work with people, unfortunately. Against the law or something I've been warned.

Pros of Remodeling Your Home

About 70% of people choose this, according to Fred Wilson, with Morgante-Wilson Architects in Evanston, Illinois.

  • You won't have to leave your lovely yard you've finally got the way you want.
  • You know the local school is great.
  • Your drive to work is short. This alone is enough to keep you where you are in Southern Cali!
  • You know what needs to be done to your home because you have lived there for a while.
  • You don't have to go through the stress of finding and bidding on a home.
  • You aren't paying a lot of your money to Real Estate Agents, it is all for the remodel.
  • You know what kind of neighbors you have (you could get worse!).
  • You know you love your area.
  • You know how your HOA is or, better, you don't have one.
  • You don't have to worry about selling your home while trying to buy another home. Sometimes the timing doesn't run parallel and you are left in a hotel.

 

Cons of Remodeling

  • You will not get every penny back you spent on the remodel when you sell. If you are careful about what you choose to do (and lucky), you might get back 90%. 90% seems a lot until you realize that 10% of $50,000 is a still a lot of money. Many people only recoup around 50%. (Probably this is still less than you'll pay in Real Estate fees, honestly.)
  • Making your dream a reality could 'over-improve' your home drastically for your neighborhood and you'll not get any of your investment returned when you sell it. It does happen.
  • Sometimes there are unexpected costs and the contractor charges you more than they estimated. The wall-building contractor we hired bidded $3800 and we ended up paying $5000.
  • Living in a home during a remodel is terrible, I can tell you! Chaos is the best description. Dust and noise! (we know I don't like noise, right?).
  • Remodeling is not fast, no matter what drivel those home improvement shows say. It took a month to put in one wall for us. He worked weekends, too and had several young men working for him.

Pros of Buying a New Home

  • Well, basically if you buy a new home you reset the timer of "unhappiness". You'll have some years yet to work out what really bugs you, because there will always be something about every house you want to change. It's best to be realistic about this one and not sugar coat it.
  • You don't have to figure out which contractors are trustworthy and then deal with living in chaos while the work is done.
  • There isn't so many details to overwhelm you. From flooring, lighting, appliances, countertop choices and types of cabinets - it can seem like too much.
  • If you hate your neighbors, your yard, your area, your drive, the local school - Please, buy a new home! You have very little reason to stay.

Cons of Buying

  • No one will describe buying a home as a joyous journey. It's stressful.
  • It takes months to find a home and close a deal. Having a 30 day escrow is typical.
  • You have no idea what you will discover you don't like until you've lived there a while.
  • Real Estate Fees. Need I really say more? In California, even if you find one that will take a 2.5% fee, you are still looking at tens of thousands of dollars.
  • It is time consuming on a daily basis. Calls, emails and tours will consume your off-time.
  • Packing and unpacking is drudgery. Hire a company? Things are going to break. We did that to move cross country and the truck was two weeks late and they totalled our car.
  • The new house you find and love can break your heart when you are outbid, find out the schools are terrible or crime is rampant only a few blocks over.

Most of the time, it's best to Remodel.

There is a reason that 70% of homeowners choose to remodel over buying a different home. While the process of finding a contractor can be overwhelming, it's worth it. Even if it takes 3 months to do the work, many people spend longer than that finding and closing on a new home.

We are attached, even if we are a little mad. It's like that old saying "you don't know how much you love it, until it's gone." Most of us do know that deep down, no matter what things are irritating us, we do love our homes. Our memories are there. We are comfortable there.

Make Remodeling Easier on Yourself.

Before calling a contractor, measure out your space and purchase easy to use software that allows you to play around with the space you want to change. I found a free one online that was not easy to use but did allow me to see how specific models of real appliances would fit in the room.

Make some decisions first so that when you bring in a remodeling company you already know the exact model of toilet, the types of counters, ... the whatever you'll need to buy. There are a lot of options and taking your time to choose wisely will make you happier longer. Finding the perfect faucet can take longer than you think. Once you hire someone the timer is ticking and the pressure is on.

Get No Hassle Help on Your Remodeling Project