We’ve polled the best experts in the industry including architects, builders, and remodelers to ask them what to consider before you tear down or add on. Read through their winning advice, and then take our handy quiz to see where you land.
But no matter where it shakes out, be sure to hire professionals before you start. “I can’t state this enough: It is extremely important to build a team of professionals before you even start looking for your dream lot. Take advantage of these resources so you don’t make big financial mistakes,” says builder Michael Munir of Sharif & Munir Custom Homes.
We’ve given you the strategy. Now it’s your turn.
Look At Your Hand
If you’re considering an upgrade, studying the cards you’re dealt might just be the winner. our industry insiders tell you how to make the renovation call.
“For those families who love their neighborhood, their schools, and proximity to daily errands, remodeling is a great answer. Most people do not dislike their entire home. There are areas in the home that they would like to change, whether through updating, rearranging, or adding square footage. If this is the case, then the costs of a kitchen remodel, new master suite, or outdoor living, for example, would be far less than a new home.” –Kevin Key, owner of Key Residential
“People are attached to their first home, the home they grew up in, or the home they raised their children in. A remodel is a good choice to keep the sentimental value of a home.” –Cathy Koonsman, owner of RPCD
“My belief is that when a renovation or addition is completed, the work needs to fit in with the style and scale of the existing house and neighborhood so that it appears that the complete home has always been a part of the neighborhood. It is a bad thing to walk up to a residence and be able to say: ‘That was the ’40s, that part was in those crazy ’70s, and that was a period we have blocked out of memory.’” –Pat Ford, principal and architect at Rogers-Ford
“What is the condition of the existing house? If everything works, it’s more of a candidate than a home that has old pipes, old wiring, and old mechanical systems. If the house has been maintained and you don’t have to spend money on maintenance, more money can go toward the renovation or addition.” –Bruce Bernbaum, architect and principal of Bernbaum/Magadini Architects
“Anything older than 1980s for an investment is hard to make work, because you don’t know what’s beneath the wrapping. You have to be really in love with the house. You won’t get those dollars back—you are doing it out of passion for the architecture or passion for the home. In a 1980s home and later, it’s easier to control the costs—there’s better wiring, newer A/C systems, and you have a good idea foundation-wise. If you were to expand and go up, it’s easier to add on to these vintages as well.” –Mark Molthan, owner of Platinum Homes
You may need another turn at building your dream home. consider this advice before you take two steps forward.
“Unless there is a very high budget, if they want to completely change everything about the house, it often makes more sense to tear it down and start from scratch. The end price can be very similar at times, and in a renovation, there is always something that you ‘have to live with’ despite how much money you spend.” –Eddie Maestri, principal architect and owner of Maestri Studio
“Crunch the numbers. Understand the cost to build new versus buying an existing home and remodeling. With new construction, costs are a little easier to control because your budget includes everything related to building the house. In a remodel, there are often unexpected surprises since you don’t know what you’re going to get until you start to open walls.” –Mark Danuser
“Style is definitely a factor. You don’t necessarily want to take a steep-pitched roof line of a traditional home and put a barrel tile roof on it to make it more Mediterranean. Or, taking an old Preston Hollow ranch with 8- to 9-foot ceilings will never feel like the newer homes that start at 10- to 11-foot ceilings and up.” –Michael Munir, corporate president and chief operating officer of Sharif & Munir Custom Homes
“How much do you need to change on the existing home to make it meet your lifestyle? If you have changed so much of the existing house that all you have left is two walls and a floor, maybe you should start fresh with a new home. Sometimes, the delta between a new home and the remodel is fairly minimal in the grand scheme.” –Tricy Magadini, architect and principal of Bernbaum/Magadini Architects
“As a green home building company, we almost always recommend a new build over a remodel mainly because you will be able to create a more efficient and sustainable home than you ever could by doing a remodel.” –Alan Hoffmann, founder and CEO of Hoffmann Homes
Make A Safe Bet
You’re not playing with Monopoly money!
“They need to really love the home and the area it’s in. I equate the decision to restoring a car. It probably wouldn’t make sense to restore a ’90s Ford Taurus, but it would make sense to restore a ’60s Corvette. Remodeling could be more expensive than merely moving to a new house that has what you need and may take longer, too.” –Chris Black, president of Blackline Renovations
“When it comes to adding value, I believe adding square footage is a profitable way to spend your money. In some parts of Dallas, the cost to add additional square footage is two to three times less than the average price-per-square-foot home on the market. It’s a great return on your investment to add your dream master retreat off the back of your home or to convert the formal living and family room into one large, open great room.” –Derek Kellogg, principal of Richland Renovations
“How long do you plan on living in the remodeled home? If it is less than three years, it might be a little harder to recover your costs when you sell. Most properties will, of course, increase in value with a remodel, but if you have time to let property values increase over time (as they usually do), that helps, too.” –Tricy Magadini
“Be careful of the ‘what the heck’ factor. A scenario like: ‘What the heck—while we are doing the kitchen, we might as well add that breakfast nook we’ve always wanted.’ Well, too many ‘what the hecks’ and your budget can run over quickly before you realize it. Be transparent with your budget expectations up front, and try to have your entire team on board with understanding all of it. Builder, architect, interior designer, and any other design professional involved in the project really benefit from knowing this information up front.” –Mark Hoesterey