Renovation vs New Build
Posted by Lindsay Wilson in Blog
Whether to opt for a renovation vs a new build can be a challenging decision.
When looking at your home, and deciding whether to renovate or build new, a good contractor will ask questions like:
- How old is the home?
- What are the common issues and problems?
- What is bothering you about the use of space? Is it functional?
For each building there is a tipping point in terms of return on investment. Knowing whether it’s more valuable to renovate or build new requires a construction professional to examine the building and carefully evaluate its structure in order to weigh the reality against the vision you have for your home.
When does a renovation make sense?
- You’re looking to add floor area. A small addition may be all you need to address space issues.
- You want to build a 2nd storey and the foundation of your home can support the additional load. This might be a good decision when you can’t build out, but you can build up.
- You love your neighborhood or location. Perhaps property value is rising in your neighborhood and you want to stay where you are.
- You love the character of your home and want to keep some of its charm.
- Your timeline is shorter. Renovating (typically) takes less time.
- You’re dealing with heritage or conservation organizations that may make it difficult or impossible to tear down and build new without a substantial change.
It’s important to consider that sometimes the only way to accommodate your vision is to renovate. An example of this would be setbacks from the water. If you have an older cottage that is close to the water, if you decide to build new, it means that the location of the cottage has to follow the bylaws set out by the township which usually means 100 feet back from the water. If you renovate, chances are you might be able to keep your proximity to the water. When renovating you can consider keeping desired elements that are pre-existing and couldn’t be built now by today’s codes.
A few important questions to consider when contemplating a renovation:
Are you going to live on the premises during the renovation? This is a very important factor to consider. For instance, a contractor will need to account for the time that’s necessary to do dust protection and sound proofing in the construction schedule if you remain living at the home during the renovation. They will also need to ensure the job site is clean at the end of each day, as well as making sure white boards are completed and you can see the activities that are happening on a daily basis. Another protocol that is important to initiate when doing a renovation, especially if you’re living in the home through the renovation, is to set aside time to have a weekly meeting with an agenda. This creates a common time to meet and discuss issues in a concise and focused manner.
Sometimes, even if your heart is set on a renovation, your hand can be forced into building new. An example of this may be if you’re trying to renovate a three-season cottage. It may not have the structure to accommodate heating, plumbing or ducts. With these issues in mind, it might be impossible to accommodate your renovation vision with the pre-existing structure. In these experiences a renovation can be like an onion. Every time you peel back a layer it brings tears to your eyes. Once you start investigating closely you may discover lead piping, copper wiring, or old technology and that’s when a renovation can become cost prohibitive. These sorts of issues will press you into the realm of the new build.
When does a new build make sense?
- Your current structure isn’t sound enough to handle a second storey or you can’t build out. In this instance, it means you have no choice but to demolish and rebuild.
- Your existing home is too expensive to repair. An example might be nonconforming work that needs to be brought up to code.
- The desired layout is drastically different than what you have currently. Working with an existing structure can limit higher ceilings or a new floor plan.
- A renovation may cost you more than the home’s resale value.
- The stress of living through a renovation may be too much. Living through a renovation is definitely not relaxing.
A few more points to consider when looking at a new build are: Site work and site access, where is it located? Is it easy to access? Will an excavator be able to get in? Will it be feasible to pour a brand-new foundation? Or is it on an island where this will be significantly more difficult? These questions will have an impact on your decision and can sway that tipping point between new build and renovation.
In the debate of renovation vs new build, give deep consideration to what is important to your family. Considering what is a need opposed to what is a want can help you get very clear and realistic about the direction your project will take.
If you’re curious and have a project in mind, the design-build process can help you achieve clarity and direction for your project. With its focus on exacting planning and research, you can be assured that there will be no regrets, no surprises.