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Buy A New Home Or Major Home Improvements?

For most people our first homes are known in the market place as a starter home. The home was most likely chosen primarily for financial considerations. It probably lacked some of the features that we would have wanted if our budget had been unlimited at the time. Now that your income has grown, and possibly the size of your family it is time to consider either moving or investing in your current property to add additional features and living space.

If you're looking for buying a house for your family, make sure to think about a home warranty that will cover the cost of the home maintenance.

Although the decision on whether to stay and remodel or relocate has affected all of us, the decision is usually based on emotion rather than fact or situation. Before you decide on whether to remodel or relocate you should consider the following points:

before home remodel and home renovation
Figure 1 - Home before remodel and renovation
after home remodel and home renovation
Figure 2 - Home after remodel and renovation

Return On Investment:

Most of us are concerned that any investment we make, and doing a major remodel to a home is definitely an investment, will eventually provide us with a payback or at worst case we won’t loose any money. In order to determine if an investment in your current property is likely to have a financial benefit it is important to look at the other homes on your street and in your area. If your home is the same size as the majority of other homes, it is most likely that if you add an addition to your home it will become the most expensive home in the neighborhood. From an investment standpoint, one does not want to have the most expensive home in the neighborhood. On the other hand, if your home is currently smaller than the majority of homes, it may be a very smart investment to add an addition to expand the livable floor space. This should have the effect of increasing your home value by more than the investment.

kitchen before remodel or renovation
Figure 3 - Kitchen before remodel and renovation
kitchen after remodel and home renovation
Figure 4 - Kitchen after remodel and renovation

Architecture:

The cost of adding additional floor space is usually determined by the size of the lot and current building codes for that lot. Would adding additional floor space mean adding a second floor or is their room on the lot to add to the main floor level. Don’t forget that by adding to the main floor level you will be eliminating some of the home’s outdoor space. It is also important to realize that with some homes, depending on how the original foundation was installed, adding a second story may mean adding to the strength of the footings. This alone could mean that the project is not economically feasible. Whether you are considering a second story or an addition on the main level, try to visualize what the finished home will look like. If in your mind you are satisfied that what you want to do will be visually acceptable it is probably time to call in an architect to discuss what can and can’t be done with your property.

stairway before a remodel or renovation
Figure 5 - Stairway before remodel and renovation
stairway after a remodel or renovation
Figure 6 - Stairway after remodel and renovation

Budget:

Although construction costs vary from city to city and state to state you should allow a minimum of $200 per square foot for the addition of basic living space, providing the addition does not include a kitchen or bathroom. Your architect will be able to give you a budgetary number for finished construction cost based on the city and state where you are located. Higher quality finishing materials such as hardwood flooring, and natural stone tiles such as marble or granite can easily double the per square foot cost. Once you have a detailed set of building plans, you will be able to obtain firm prices from the contractors in your area. For budgeting purposes, it is always wise to add an extra 10% to the costs, as there are generally changes and modifications during the construction phase.

before bathroom remodel and home renovation
Figure 7 - Bathroom before remodel and renovation
after bathroom remodel and home renovation
Figure 8 - Bathroom after remodel and renovation

Sweat Equity:

One major advantage to a remodel rather than a relocation is that a remodel allows you to put some sweat equity into your property. Depending on one’s capabilities, a lot of the remodel work, especially items that are labor intensive, can be accomplished by a reasonably competent homeowner. These include simplistic items such as wallpapering, painting, installing light fixtures, and window coverings. For the more experience home handyman, installing finished flooring, doors and trim can provide cost savings and increased equity. Landscaping and gardening are two other areas that can become family projects and increase the home’s value. However, if you do decide to relocate rather than renovate you may find that you are doing all of the aforementioned items at your new home!

before fireplace remodel and home renovation
Figure 9 - Fireplace before remodel and renovation
after fireplace remodel and home renovation
Figure 10 - Fireplace after remodel and renovation

Want biased advise on whether you should renovate or relocate, it’s available from most real estate brokers. Remember that a real estate broker makes a living when people buy and sell homes, not when they renovate. They do not receive any benefit from you deciding to stay where you are and to remodel your current property.

If you are considering remodeling your home a good initial investment is a 3D home and landscape design software package. These software packages can be loaded on your own PC or used on a remote server. By using these 3D software packages you can see what your home wil look like after the remodel and before you invest.

Additional information on 3D home and landscape design software packages.