When deciding to remodel or relocate, thoroughly weighing the pros and cons of each option will help you feel more prepared to act when the time is right.
Q: What is the better option right now: remodel our older home, or start fresh somewhere new?
A: This is a question posed to our firm, by homeowners, on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.
They contact us wondering what can be done to improve their home and maximize its potential and function. However, they also are at times unsure if remodeling is the best choice for them given our housing market.
Television programs about homebuying and home-remodeling aren’t just a fad; their popularity indicates that they’re here to stay. If you’re one of the dedicated viewers, you might begin (if you haven’t already) to look around and notice some of your own home’s shortcomings — things like inadequate storage, limited cooking space or simply an outdated design, to name a few. These might conjure thoughts about remodeling your kitchen, bathrooms or living spaces. Or, instead, perhaps you’ll begin to consider moving into a bigger or newer home.
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Whether you decide to remodel or relocate, your decision will involve a great deal of logistics, emotions and, of course, finances. Thoroughly weighing the pros and cons of each option will help you feel more prepared to act when the time is right.
Start by asking yourself these questions.
What’s in the budget? The first step is the most obvious: You’ll need to crunch some numbers to determine what is financially feasible. Remodeling can be a great investment and save you the hassle of moving. But it requires a great deal of patience and flexibility.
On the other hand, buying a home can be instantly gratifying. But the true costs of buying and selling — such as Realtor fees, closing costs, repair work and moving/packing fees — need to be part of the equation, as that is money you won’t get back.
Is it a simple fix that you can do yourself? Or is this a bigger project that will require a professional? Some homeowners are especially handy and want to tackle the job themselves. But most others like having the assurance of knowing a professional (who has the necessary equipment, expertise and resources) will get the job done right the first time.
What is the current value of your home compared to similar homes in your neighborhood? We suggest that you look at what’s on the market, before assuming your home’s value. The assessed value is not always the right value, either. Go to open houses in the neighborhood to get a feel for the homes in your area and how yours compares. If your home is already the most expensive one in the neighborhood, you might not see a significant return on your investment if you remodel. But if comparable home values are greater than your home’s value, you’re much more likely to see a strong return by making improvements and remodeling.
How do you feel about your current neighborhood? Even if you changed everything about your home, there are several things outside of it that should be given consideration. Some of these may include the school district, your proximity to work and parks, and the overall look and feel of the community.
If you’re seriously considering a relocation, visit the potential neighborhood during the day and at night, and identify the homes and livability of the area. Don’t just look at the houses; consider the parks, schools, places of worship, parking, noise disruption, walkability and more. This will help eliminate any hidden surprises.
How might your decision impact your taxes? Remodeling your current home or moving into a new home may have an effect on your property-tax payment. The change may or may not be significant, but it’s something to keep in mind.
How might your needs change in the next three, five or 10 years? A growing family, kids going off to college, an aging family member moving in — consider these things when determining your future home requirements and remodeling plans, whether you stay or go.
Is the layout of your current home conducive to a remodel? All other considerations aside, if you have limited options to alter your home in a way that will address your needs, moving may be a better option. Some of these areas of concern may include multiple levels or several flights of stairs, local building code or zoning restrictions, and space constraints that limit adding on or building up.
Before deciding anything, schedule a consult with a general contractor, the local building department, or both.
The answers to these questions are different for everyone. Carefully consider each one as well as your unique situation to help determine the right decision for you and your demands of everyday life.
Melissa Irons is the showroom manager at Irons Brothers Construction and a member of the Master Builders Association (MBA) of King and Snohomish Counties. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.