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Rehab or tear down?

Who do you talk to, who doesn't have a vested interest in one decision or the other, about whether to tear down or rehab your house?

I have a waterfront house with an excellent view of the Chesapeake Bay, so selling and buying something else is out of the question.

The house was built in 1935, is 1100 sq ft, and in my mind, needs to be gutted, have two exterior concrete stairs replaced, the foundation sealed and have at least a few curved roof rafters replaced. If I build a new house I'm thinking of going a little bigger (maybe 1800 sq ft) by possibly going to two stories (a 50' wide lot precludes extending the first story). The only new part of the house is the furnace I had installed last year.

Cost is definitely a concern because I'm planning to retire in about 5 years and don't want to dip too heavily into my stash. But I'm not into fancy appliances, fancy wood floors or status-symbol accessories anyway. Cheap, but functional is good enough. I can't do structural work, but I could do finishing work like tile and paint.

Thanks for your help.

Re: Rehab or tear down?

your best bet is to talk to a reputable general contractor who does both complete renos and build new custom homes. have them price it up both ways. reason being the time it takes to tear down a house and build new can be much less than competely renovating it .

the company i work for does this often when the drawings for what the homeowner wants is nowhere near what the existing is and creates too much work to make it economical. the most recent project we completed of this nature would have cost $100-$130,000 more to renovate it compared to building new.. so the homeowner opted to tear down and rebuild. also to build new it took us 15 weeks to complete as opposed to what could have been upwards of 5 months had it been a reno

Re: Rehab or tear down?

In addition, it's also a question of funding. If you are willing to spend the money for an 1800 sf new home, go for it.

Re: Rehab or tear down?

I agree with Mr. Kirk.

Generally speaking if you , the homeowner , say it needs a gut and because of the age you can expect the unexpectable to be found when doing a rehab. Then there's the might as well that comes into play. In many cases if you are investing a considerable amount of $$$ into a rehab you need to do it properly from the ground up. With all the unexpected or additional work can easily raise the costs close to what it would be for a tear down and build new.

Unfortunately, there are times when restrictions for building new become a huge obstacle. Whereas the building that's there will be grandfathered and a rehab becomes a more practical solution unfortunately.

Re: Rehab or tear down?

If you can find an appraiser that works for insurance companies, they should be able to help you determine the cost of remodeling versus rebuilding. They won't have a vested interest in selling you construction services or materials, but should have good insight into construction costs in your area. Some architects and home designers may also be able to help you figure costs.

Expect to pay any of these professionals for their time and expertise.

Re: Rehab or tear down?

Hey Smitty,

I'm sure you've seen the shows where they tear down and rebuild a home in a week and there are others (TOH) where months and months (or longer) are spent rehabbing. I'm defiantly a renovation guy, but I get the time/$$ implications (as well as Canuk's restriction/grandfather insights). In my eyes, having a renovated home built in 1935 would be better than having new. I'm just always prouder to show people my renovated homes than houses built recently. I've built new houses and renovated old ones and for me, renovating is more of a challenge, more of an adventure, and more fun.


Re: Rehab or tear down?

Since your house is on the Bay, it's most likely in a critical area for development. We have a house on the Potomac, and there is a lot of red tape for permits. You may want to check out these restrictions first to see if rebuilding - especially adding on a story - is even a viable option.

Re: Rehab or tear down?

Being a smaller home and built a little later, you first need to determine if it was a good quality build to begin with. Our home for example was a luxury home. a single story 1100 sqft is more likely a cottage, or working class home. So the quality and details are likely not as prominent.

IF ther's not much uniqueness, and most of the floors, walls are damaged, and you have significant structural issues and major roof repairs... you might be past hte tipping point. Do you even like the layout?

Personally, rather than a mini mcmansion or typical contemporary...boring home. I would encourage you to look at doing a four square with modern touches. They are simple, elegant, space efficient, and IMO timeless. DO the home in all spray foam insulation with a sealed conditioned attic and you could easily have <$100 utility bills on a 1800sqft home. IT would be a good size with room for 2 small bedrooms and a larger master suite upstairs. Keep the stairs shallow (You're not getting younger) and put a 1/2 bath under the staircase. One corner is a small efficient kitchen, the 2nd is a dining room, the other 1/2 is a living room space. You'll roughyly have 15' square spaces. With the master suite and dining room being 15'x30'.. less the bathroom. The other two upstairs bedrooms would share a small bath with a stand-up shower.

Forget all this neo-eclectic funky floor plans and open concepts, quadrants give you nice clean divided spaces.

A. Spruce
Re: Rehab or tear down?

New construction generally falls under more stringent guidelines than remodels, which includes permits, fees, and other costly issues.

Here in California you can renovate a property at a fraction of a new build. A common "trick" here is to remodel half of the structure, meaning you can tear off half and rebuild a new footprint to whatever you want to do and this is considered a remodel. Wait a year or two and you can tear off the other half of the house and build it however you want and THAT will also be considered a remodel. When all is said and done you've got a completely new/different house and the whole thing was technically a remodel.

As was said, consult with a few local reputable contractors familiar with the remodel and new build processes to weigh your options and costs of going both ways. There are pros and cons to both ideas, you need local council to make an informed decision.

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