Build New or Renovate? 5 Questions for Current & Future Homeowners

If you’re in the market for a new house, you don’t need to be told that mortgage rates are high. Uncomfortably high.

High enough, in fact, that you might be taking a hard look at your alternatives. Today’s high interest rates and steadily appreciating home values mean houses that looked affordable two years ago feel (and perhaps are) out of reach right now. Is it a better bet, financially speaking, to renovate your current home rather than move to a newer, bigger one?

It’s a tricky question with long-term implications. Sure, you can be happy anywhere, but you really don’t want to overstretch your finances or regret not making a move when you had the chance. So ask yourself these five questions as you think through your options.

1. Is Your Home or Lot Fully “Built Out”?

The first question to ask is whether it’s even possible to expand your current home. Most city zoning codes limit floor space (floor-area ratio) on residential lots and impose restrictions on setbacks, building heights, and other built-environment features. Talk to your city building department if you’re not sure, or consult a design-build expert like ABB’s Karim Allana.

2. How Much Maintenance Has Been Deferred?

You shouldn’t renovate your house while it’s on fire. Hopefully not literally, but you get the idea: If there’s a lot of basic repair and refurbishment work to be done on your older home, making significant practical or aesthetic upgrades doesn’t make sense. Unless you’re planning a total gut job that involves replacing major building systems and components (roof, HVAC, windows, insulation and vapor protection, and so on).

3. What Are Your Must-Haves?

Next question: What do you absolutely need (or want, very strongly) in your new or updated home? And are those goals possible where you’re currently living, or better achieved if you start fresh?

Start by asking your realtor (if you’re working with one) or getting quotes from specialists. For example, if you really want a pool but aren’t sure if it’s doable on your current property, contact custom pool installers like Anthony & Sylvan or Premier Pools & Spas and see what they think.

4. What About Your Home Is “Fixed” and What Can Easily Be Changed?

Some renovations are easier than others to accomplish. If you love your older home except for its claustrophobic floor plan, you might think it easy enough to knock down a few walls on the main level — until your structural engineer tells you otherwise. Most such problems are surmountable, but sometimes only at great cost. Moving to a newer place or building new could make more sense.

5. How Well Do You Like Your Community?

Priorities change. Maybe you moved to your current neighborhood for the vibrant restaurant scene or proximity to your office downtown. But now you have kids and a big dog, and you want a place with a yard in a great school district (at least, according to websites like GreatSchools). Or maybe you’re in the opposite position — bored of your cookie-cutter suburban life now that your kids are out of the house. More than any physical considerations, it’s often community and lifestyle factors that prompt folks to move.

Ready for Your Forever Home?

Whether you’re building a house to your exact specifications, buying an existing home that’s maybe bigger or newer than your current residence, or customizing the home you’ve lived in for a while to accommodate your growing family, you know better than most how stressful it can be to upgrade your residence. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to imagine it ever ending.

It will end, though. That light at the end of the tunnel could be your forever home, and that’s certainly worth the trouble.

Home Base Project Team
Home Base Project Team
At The Home Base Project, we offer practical, real-life tips and inspiration about DIY, decorating and gardening. The Home Base Project provide the best information about home renovation and design, connecting home design enthusiasts and home professionals across the world.