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To Build or Not to Build: New Construction vs. Existing Home

Deciding whether to build a new home or renovate an existing one is a difficult challenge that many homeowners face. Each path has its pros and cons, and everyone’s situation looks a little different. If you need some assistance in making your choice, read this guide so you can perform a complete self-evaluation and come to the right decision for your needs.

Factors to Consider

As you weigh your options, you must evaluate all the elements that will go into your project. It’s helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you satisfied with your location?
  • What style of home do you want?
  • What features are most important to you?
  • How much time and energy are you willing to invest?
  • How soon do you want to complete the project?

These questions will guide your decision, but they don’t cover every important aspect of your project. New construction and renovating an existing home are more different than you think. Each project has its own set of rules that you must follow and possibilities you need to be aware of.

If you’re leaning towards new construction, these factors could potentially limit the scope of your project or prevent you from making all the customizations you want:

  • Your municipality’s building codes
  • Your environment and potential weather conditions
  • The quality of the soil
  • Regulations from the local homeowners association (HOA)
  • Availability of resources and labor
  • Trends in the housing market

If you want to renovate your existing home, the obstacles will look quite different. Here are some of the most common hurdles you may have to jump:

  • Is your home located in an area that justifies the renovation?
  • What changes can you make to keep your home’s value at a reasonable price?
  • Do you have your home’s original building plan?
  • Did your house undergo any previous renovations? If so, why?
  • Are there any outdated or hazardous materials that might interfere with the project?

In order to make the best decision, you must do a thorough evaluation of your home, your needs, and the above external factors.

Pros and Cons of Building

One of the biggest advantages of building from scratch is that the process is more straightforward than adding to an existing structure. Renovations often require careful planning and attention to detail to install the new features, while building a new facility is a well-established process contractors know like the back of their hands.

Building from scratch also allows you to customize and address all of the needs the previous home didn’t meet. If you want to make sweeping changes to your living space, it’s much easier to start from the ground up. New homes can also accommodate more eco-friendly features, and since their structure is usually more simplistic than older buildings, they’re also easier to maintain.

A simpler, sustainable home in the right location can make your new property value soar. However, these advantages come with some caveats: building from scratch is usually a bigger project than renovating, so it takes more resources and averages about eight months to complete.

Pros and Cons of Renovating

The advantages of remodeling an existing home are also alluring, especially if you live in an old house with its own unique traits and charms. Renovations only make the necessary changes to a home, which preserves its history, character, and the memories you made over the years.

Additionally, when a contractor only has to worry about making a handful of pre-determined improvements, fewer independent variables are involved in the project. Fewer variables mean less risk for the laborers and your home’s integrity. Of course, it also means the project will take less time to complete (about four to six months), so you can move back into your house sooner.

Renovations are also more sustainable and produce less waste than new construction, so if you want to prioritize an eco-friendly project, remodeling is probably your best option. It’s much easier in your surrounding environment to make adjustments instead of starting from scratch somewhere else.

Existing homes also tend to perform better in the housing market, as buyers are more comfortable purchasing houses with a proven track record. Renovating your current home can increase its value even more if you plan on eventually selling it.

Since remodeling requires less time and fewer resources to complete, it usually ends up costing less than new construction. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean remodeling is easier. A home makeover can require several different schedules if multiple parts of the house need working on, which can extend the timeline even further.

Additionally, the existing structure inherently limits the scope of your project. If it was originally built using harmful materials, that can impede the laborers and pose a risk to their safety. Your home’s layout might also prevent you from making specific design changes. New construction allows you to operate from a clean slate, while renovating forces you to adapt to the existing structure.

Which Costs More?

Which costs more: building or renovating? There’s no definitive answer to this question, as too many variables can affect the bottom line to firmly put one project over the other.

However, building from scratch usually costs more than renovating because of the greater amount of materials and human resources required to complete the project. A bigger project also takes more time and steps to complete, which gives rise to more risks and potentially more extra expenses. The current state of the housing market doesn’t help, either.

To Build or Not to Build?

Renovation is the best option if you want to make some changes but don’t feel ready to leave your existing home. It all depends on your answers to the questions in the first section. Determine your priorities and evaluate your property so you know what features you can add.

Building from scratch is the best option if you have new, unique features in mind and enough time to undergo a big project. Since you’re reading this, you probably have both of those things, so if you’re comfortable paying a little extra, get started on your dream home as soon as possible!

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