The nice thing about wanting to build a home from scratch is that you can choose where you live solely based on location and property. You don't have to worry about what the house looks like when you buy it because you are going to tear it down anyways.
If you are uncertain whether or not tearing down the house is a good option, here are three things to consider.
Is the house worth salvaging?
Talking to a building professional is always a smart decision when deciding whether to tear down a house. If the house is located in a historic district, there may be limitations to what you can do to the house. Contacting the building department in the city will let you know whether or not you can demolish and rebuild the house or not. Additionally, there may be zoning, wetlands or deed restrictions that could prevent any building plans you may have had for the property.
When in doubt look at the numbers. Figure out how much it is going to cost to buy the house and property, then make the decision based on whether it is worth it to add the cost of building something new. If you can use pieces of the old house and build from there, a complete tear down is not necessarily essential. Be honest with yourself about the estimate. Include big-ticket items such as labor and materials. By subtracting the home's potential market value from the total cost estimate, then deduct another 5-10% for extra luxuries or unforeseen issues, what is left over is probably the best offer you can make.
It is very important that your contract include an inspection clause. This goes for purchasing any home or property. This inspection could confirm whether or not the house is in good shape, or help you back out of the purchase if necessary. For example, what if your home is backed by an environmentally protected area, preventing you from being able to build on the land. It is important that you conduct thorough research when purchasing a home.
An inspector's evaluation of the house could also help make the decision of whether or not to completely start over or work with what you have. Major repairs could cost more than just starting from scratch.
How do I decided between a renovation and a tear down?
Several factors influence the decision of whether or not you want to renovate or tear down a house. Mostly it depends on a person's preference. Are you going to be willing to see the project through from start to finish? Viewing the current condition of the house will also influence the decision. Older homes are more likely to have a lot of problems making a renovation a money pit; mold, infestations, and cracked foundation are just some of the factors that may trigger a decision to just tear down a house instead of renovating.
Deciding what you want out of the house is another influencing component in making the decision to renovate or tear down. Wanting a home to be energy efficient, including new windows, doors and kitchen appliances, can help to save money in the long-run. Also what about the layout of the house, did you maybe have something more specific in mind?
Your budget will also have a large influence on what you decide. If you are able to get everything you want for a reasonable price, a renovation makes sense. If the location is what you like, but the house has too many repairs, it would make more sense to just tear it down and start over.
Financing. Where will your budget go?
If you decide that a tear down is what you want to do, make sure to run the numbers and get an estimate of the total cost of the project. Start with an inspection of the house and the land. Then acquire permits for demolition purposes and future plans. Finally contact utility companies for gas, electricity and water to disconnect the house during demolition.
A unique and cost effective method for demolition is to ask the local fire department if they want to use the house for training. This would be free, and help the firefighters train.
Keep in mind that everything in the house must be brought up to code. Every year new codes are created, and some things may be stricter. It is not unusual that multiple inspections at varying stages of the project may occur.
Whichever you choose to do, a renovation or a tear down, it is important to consider all your options before choosing so that you do what is best for your family.
Home additions can be exciting, they are new and special, something the whole family can enjoy for years to come. Additions can also add value to your home and increase equity; however, if done wrong, they can leave you with an unfinished project and drowning in bills. This is why you should leave the bulk of the work to professionals who know what they are doing. Additions can really open the home up and add some much needed space to your pre-existing floor plan; such as, new bedrooms, bathrooms, or a family room. When looking into a home addition, it's extremely important to do research on the project, it may be a long process that can be very difficult if you dive in unprepared.
Here are seven factors that can either make or break your home addition plans:
1. Get everything permitted.
All major construction projects require building permits. Without getting the right permits, you could face expensive fines through either the town or the state, and you could be forced to remove your addition. To prevent this colossal waste of money, be sure to get the correct permits from your town hall. Building codes were created for a reason and should not be ignored; permits are documentation that your project is being completed the right way. They also ensure that you are using a professional and licensed contractor. Not getting the necessary permits is a huge risk. If you attempt to get around this precaution it will end up costing you a whole lot more than if things were done properly in the first place.
2. Expect delays.
As with any construction project, unforeseeable events are bound to occur. Things like weather, sickness, builder/contractor availability, or material delays are just a few of things that could happen and there is no way around them. Work closely with your builder to create a schedule to prevent the project from lagging behind; but keep in mind that making a schedule does not mean that the project will absolutely run as planned. For example, materials could get delayed weeks after the projected timeline. It's important to expect these delays; otherwise you will be stressed when the project slips off schedule.
3. Find the right builder/architect.
Be sure that you are choosing the right builder or contractor; this can be either the best or worst choice of your life. Take the interviewing process very seriously, ask to see some of their completed or current projects to ensure that their work is something that you like. Certain websites cater specifically to helping homeowners find licensed professionals or home renovation and addition projects. Ask others for referrals, generally, if someone liked their contractor or builder they will want to tell others and get them more work.
4. Don't overbuild for the size of your lot.
Adding on to your home does not always pay off, when adding another bedroom, bathroom or expanding your kitchen don't forget that outdoor living space is an asset to your property. Taking away the yard takes away from the value of your home. Stretching your home to the edges of your property take away valuable outdoor living space that can be used for landscaping, or entertaining areas. Additionally, your neighbors may not appreciate you getting so close to their home. Other times home owner's associations or cities have regulations limiting how far you can extend your building.
5. Expect the unexpected.
It is important that you don't assume that everything in a renovation or addition is going to go right. Unexpected expenses or findings will most likely arise and wreak havoc on you before they can be solved. Asbestos, irregular framing, bad wiring, and bad plumbing are just a few examples of unexpected findings when adding to your home. These unexpected surprises are common and you should anticipate them before starting the project. Prepare your budget and timeline accordingly so you won't be unprepared.
6. Don't overdo home customization.
If you plan on living in your house for decades after your addition, customize it all you want. However, if there is the slightest possibility that you will be selling in the future don't go crazy customizing items and materials. Your personal preference may not be universally like by others. Picking overly bright or unique floor tiling, floors, cabinets, or wall colors could hurt the value of your home. It is a safer option to pick neutral flooring, tiling and appliances, this helps with the resale value of your home.
7. Focus on kitchens and bathrooms.
Additional bathrooms and a large kitchen are features that add value to your home. When creating a new kitchen make sure that it is functional for your needs or the needs of a potential buyer. This doesn't mean that your kitchen can't be unique; choosing neutral cabinets with a colorful back splash adds interest.
Bathrooms are another area that are just as important as the kitchen. If there are too few it can affect how you entertain or worse, it could impact your day to day life. Adding bathrooms increases the value of your home because most buyers want a good number of bathrooms. You really can't go wrong with adding bathrooms to your home, it doesn't matter if it's a half bath on your first floor or another bathroom upstairs to balance out the bedrooms.
Additions and renovations can be a bear sometimes. You have to live through the process. Start to research your project early so you know what you want and what you are getting into.