If you are interested in designing a custom home, there are two potential paths forward for making your dream home a reality.
The first option is to design and build the home completely from scratch in what is known as ground-up construction. This can either be done in an empty lot or may involve tearing down an existing structure to start from scratch. The second option is to work with an existing home by remodeling it.
Each option can be a viable path forward, depending on the goals of your project. Below, we walk through a number of factors that you should consider in order to decide whether a remodel or new construction is right for you.
Factors to Consider When Choosing to Remodel or Build New
Your budget will ultimately be a very important factor in determining whether new construction or a remodel will be right for you. Depending on the circumstances, one option may be more cost effective than the other.
That being said, every project is of course unique, and there are a number of factors that will influence the final price tag. The two most important factors will be: How much of the existing home will you be changing, and what is the current condition of the existing structure? There will come a point where starting fresh with new construction will be more cost effective than remodeling in the long run.
Additionally, it’s important to note that with new construction, you have greater control over the final budget because you are starting from scratch. With a remodel, it is not uncommon for scenarios to change, sometimes dramatically, as information is uncovered about the integrity of the structure, which may cause plans to change and budgets to increase. Remodels require you to have more of a contingency plan baked into your budget than new construction, simply because there are more unknowns.
Speaking with an architect early in your project can be an excellent way of determining which option makes more sense for your budget.
Generally speaking, a remodel will be quicker to complete than building a new home from the ground up. This will of course depend on how much you are changing, but the fact that you are not starting from scratch can shave weeks or even months off of the final completion date. Additionally, new construction may require additional planning reviews, permitting, and inspections, which can be time consuming in and of itself.
That being said, remodels carry with them a lot of unknowns, and unforeseen circumstances can arise. Pausing to address these issues can slow down a project.
3. Outside Constraints
In both remodels and new construction, zoning and building codes will govern what you are and aren’t allowed to build on the property. As just one example, you may not be able to build an addition given the size of your current house or the proximity to the property line. Each municipality has its own zoning laws and building codes that you must abide by, so it’s critical that in either case you work with an architect who is familiar with your location.
Additionally, in some areas you may be constrained by agency restrictions. For example, properties that are a part of a homeowner’s association (HOA) might be limited to certain exterior materials, color palettes, etc.
4. Creative Freedom
Finally, you should consider how much creative freedom you want over the project. If you want true freedom to pursue your wildest design ideas, then ground-up construction could be a better option. That’s because in a remodel you will have certain constraints as to what you can and can’t change within the current structure.
This will depend on the existing footprint, as well as key structural components that may or may not be able to be changed. Creative problem solving can be leveraged to design and build a home that suits your needs, and a lot can be done to transform the space, but there will be some limitations.
On the other hand, with new construction, you will be starting with a clean slate.
The Path Toward Your Dream Home
Ultimately, which option makes the most sense for your project—remodeling vs new construction—will depend on a number of factors specific to your project. The earlier you begin speaking to an architect about the goals of your project, the better suited they will be to guide and inform the process.