Monday, December 07, 2009
Move, build or remodel? Each has pluses, drawbacks
By Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer
There is no ignoring the fact: Your house is just not working for you anymore.
Either your circumstances have changed (more people in the family, fewer people at home, more money coming in, less money coming in, etc.) or you have changed (frankly, you are no longer willing to put up with the lack of storage, can't stand one more winter scraping the ice off the windows of your car, fill in the problem(s) here).
When you finally reach your breaking point, you are faced with several options.
The first is to sell the house and move. This is a painful process, because it is difficult to coordinate these two actions. If you find the new house before you sell, you have to take on two mortgages or risk losing your dream home.
If you sell your house first, who knows how long it will take to find that dream house, and where do you live in the meantime?
And these problems don't take into consideration the stress of months of people traipsing through your home, appraisals that are too low and banks that are surprisingly stingy with their funds.
Moving comes with inherent costs, which are often overlooked.
For instance, for a $350,000 home, you can expect to pay something like $24,500 in realtor fees, $3,500 in mortgage fees and $350 in closing costs.
A moving company will take another $2,500 or so, resulting in a total of more than $30,000 in expenses. Add to that the expense of your time for packing and unpacking, as well as hours spent changing your mailing address in about a thousand places (utility companies, magazines, school records, driver's license, voter registration, etc.), and you can see that moving has costs over and above that of the house itself.
Another option that has most of the same issues, plus a lot more, is building a home.
This approach may be helpful in the scheduling area, as you should have a target date for the actual move, so you can try to coordinate the sale of your home to coincide with the finish date of the new house. (Of course, who says the house will be finished on schedule or your house will obediently sell by a certain date?)
In addition, if you care about the finished product, you will also need to devote a lot of time to the design process.
Look around your house and imagine having to decide on each item you see — flooring, countertops, cabinets, knobs, baseboards, trim, lighting fixtures — and on and on.
Building a house is an exciting process, but not one for the faint of heart.
A twist on this option is deciding to build a new house right where you are — in other words, to tear down your existing home and use your lot to build a new one. Though this does eliminate the hassle of updating a new address, it also opens up a whole can of worms in terms of zoning issues and neighborhood relations.
Some neighbors and neighborhoods would love to see a new home rising up, with its ancillary benefit of improving the property values of the whole street. Other neighborhoods, however, have strong feelings regarding design and compatibility issues, which can be a slippery slope to climb.
Some of these issues can arise with your third option, which is to remodel your existing home. Not as drastic as tearing down your house, this process must also take into consideration zoning and neighborhood issues.
Time must be devoted to the design process and the selection of finishes and fixtures, though the whole house will not necessarily be involved.
In short, there is no easy solution!
One thing is certain: Don't try any of these on your own; involve professionals to help you successfully navigate whichever avenue you choose.
These essential partners include Realtors, mortgage officers, architects, interior designers and contractors.
Building a great team will result in a successful outcome for your project. In the coming weeks, we will introduce you to one homeowner who built a new home on a new lot and another who tore down his house and rebuilt on his existing site.
Stay tuned; maybe their stories will help you decide how to proceed. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.