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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Weigh pros and cons of remodeling vs. buying new home

By Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer

We see it all the time. Homeowners come to us needing more space for a growing family or desiring home features that their current home just doesn't have.

The tough question they face is: Should I move to a new home or remodel the one I have?

An architect can help you determine the pros and cons of remodeling an existing home.

This question is more pertinent than ever this year. Home prices are dropping, meaning that although you will not get top dollar for your home, you are almost guaranteed a good deal on the new house.

Mortgage firms report rates are hovering near 5 percent after the Federal Reserve said it will back mortgage-related bonds. On the remodeling side, those same low interest rates apply to refinancing your mortgage for a remodel.

In addition, many contractors are feeling the pinch and are ready to sharpen their pencils when bidding jobs these days.

There are a lot of factors to consider before making the decision. An architect can help. Architects can determine the pros and cons of an addition versus a second story.

They can also help you understand general remodeling costs, where and how you can remodel your home so that it will conform to city zoning requirements, what your house will look like if you choose to remodel, and how to set the parameters of your project so you can control the cost of remodeling before construction begins.

We recommend homeowners faced with the moving or remodeling question also consult with real estate agents. Real estate agents can help determine the value of your current home and the value cap for the area in which your home is located.

They can show you what is available to buy and estimate the cost of another home with your wish list of features.

It is also important to remember and compare the "hidden" costs of both remodeling and moving. Beyond the basic cost of construction, additional remodeling costs to be considered include architectural design fees, structural engineering fees, demolition costs, permit fees, the possibility of unforeseen conditions (such as needing to replace old wiring or plumbing), and the cost of additional furniture and window coverings for the new space.

The hidden expenses of moving include Realtor commissions for the sale of your home, mortgage fees and closing costs, the hiring of movers or rental of a moving van, and similar furniture and window covering issues for new spaces.

Next, compare the inconveniences of both options.

Home remodeling can be messy and noisy and force you to live without a certain part of your house during the remodeling process.

Moving means the hassle of packing and unpacking, changing your mailing address with the post office, voter registration, credit card companies, driver's license bureau, friends and family, and so forth; and changing all your utilities.

Finally, weigh the emotional costs. Are you willing to give up your current location, neighbors, schools and local congregation in order to move? Or would you rather deal with the inconvenience of remodeling?

Whatever you decide, remember to be wise in the decision process. Consult as many professionals as you can. Visit with an architect, a real estate agent and loan officer. Now is definitely a great time for low interest rates and competitive contractor bids if you decide to remodel. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

© 2008 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.

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