At some point before moving or taking on a home improvement project, we all ask the question: Is it time to remodel or build new? If you’re deciding whether to start from scratch or work within the original layout of a space, we will help you evaluate the best option for your needs.
The Difference Between Renovation and New Construction
Let's start with the basics: remodeling is when you alter the layout, style or structure of an existing home. Think of it as giving your space an update. Remodeling can be pretty extensive, including knocking down walls to create a more open concept, or even completely changing the original use of a room. Regardless of what you do, if the original structure and shape of the space remain, it’s considered a remodel.
In comparison, a new construction would be building a home from scratch, allowing you to customize the design and layout of the entire space from the ground up. While building new is typically more expensive than remodeling a home, the trade-off is that you can exert complete control over the project, allowing you to tailor your home exactly to your preferences.
Considerations That Will Decide Whether You Remodel or Build New
The top three factors that will influence your decision to remodel or build new are budget, timeline and preferences. From here, you’ll want to rank these by priority, as this can make the decision for you. For example, if your budget is pretty low and your main goal is sticking to it, a remodel is probably the best option for you, as these tend to cost less. If your preferences for specific structural features are driving your decision to make changes in the first place, building new can ensure you get everything you want, how you want it.
What is your budget? Can it even accommodate a new build? Is there flexibility within your budget to account for potential issues?
Generally, renovations are the more cost-effective way to refresh your home. When building new, you have to factor in sitework, installing utilities and all costs affiliated with every step of construction. On top of this, there are the unexpected yet inevitable expenses to plan for. Most people start with a general budget of what they would like to spend, but due to market forces outside your control, prices on certain items such as wood might rise, which will make the overall project more expensive. Remodeling isn’t off the hook for unplanned expenses either, however. Renovating an older structure could create unforeseen roadblocks that bring your costs closer to those of a new build.
If your budget is flexible and could comfortably support a remodel or a new build, consider that building from scratch allows you to use safer, more energy-efficient materials throughout the home, saving you money in electric bills over time. There are certainly components of the home you can make more efficient during a renovation, too, such as replacing windows with multi-paned, insulated glass and frames that won’t conduct extreme heat or cold inside; it’s all dependent on what your budget will allow for.
As far as timing goes, ask yourself how soon you want to be in your next home and how long you plan to stay there before moving again.
Renovating a fixer-upper will take less time to complete than building from scratch, so if you want to be in your new space sooner, renovating is your best bet. Building new will require a more flexible timeline, not only because building new takes longer, but to accommodate any unforeseen issues or delays that are typical of new construction.
For example, during the pandemic, lumber faced a shortage, driving prices up drastically throughout the country. Construction was delayed and materials became more expensive. Because most homes have to be constructed in a particular order, when one part of the project is delayed, it pushes every other part of the project back to compensate. If that were to happen again, does your timeline allow for it?
The other part of the equation is planning how long you’ll stay in your newly renovated or built home. If you know ahead of time that it may only be a few years before you move elsewhere, remodeling makes more sense (and cents). But, if you foresee the next 10 or more years there, a new build will be worth it. Plus, when it’s finally time to put your house on the market, a 10-year-old home will likely sell for more than a 20-year-old home renovated 10 years ago would.
What’s your reason for remodeling? Do you just want to upgrade the style and give yourself more space, or do you plan to entirely redo certain rooms? Can the current structure of your fixer-upper handle the renovations you hope to make? Also, have you checked that your construction plans jive with your new homeowner’s association rules or any local ordinances?
If you feel passionately about certain design components your new home must have, it’s probably better to build from scratch. There’s no guarantee that any fixer-upper you find will have exactly what you’re looking for, and it may not be feasible to add it later as an expansion. Whether it’s incorporating a wide array of windows to take in your new views, building your exterior with a unique blend of materials and colors or laying out the interior of your dreams, building new will all but ensure your preferences get included.
Keep in mind restrictions in the area where you plan to remodel or build your new home, as these can hamper your design vision. For example, HOAs may require all residents to build their homes in a particular style, or to have a particular roof type or color. Not checking on the relevant rules can mean you don’t get to execute your preferences as planned, and at worst, will cost you extra money and time to reverse changes and comply with local ordinances.
When it comes to deciding whether it’s time to remodel or build new, the decision boils down to a matter of balancing priorities and making the right decision for you. Whatever you choose to do, Pella offers an incredibly robust selection of windows and doors that can fit into any project and make your space feel inviting. If you’re ready to begin your remodel or new construction, look to the experts at Pella Windows and Doors for guidance, advice and help along the way. Schedule a free consultation, and we’ll link you up with your nearest Pella branch to start your planning process.