the pursuit to own a dream home, families must determine if their
current house can be remodeled or if new construction is a better
route. Both options require careful consideration. To help you decide
when to build or remodel, here is expert advice from members of the
Metropolitan Builders Association and insight from homeowners who have
already gone through the process.
A Fresh Face
Jessica and Ryan
Stamm bought their first home in 2001, a four-bedroom Colonial in New
Berlin. They decided never to move and to remake it their own. Nearly
the entire first floor has been remodeled, all by Callen Construction.
A 2009 family room upgrade featured a tiled fireplace surround and
patio doors to replace a bow window. In 2013, they renovated the
kitchen, living room and powder room. The space was gutted and
rebuilt, including removing walls and relocating a window. "Our
house is a transformation," Jessica Stamm says. "It is
possible to freshen up your home and stay in the area."
Consider Before Remodeling
explore the scope of creating your perfect home and play with the
budget. "A whole-house renovation is close to the cost of
building a new home, but the plumbing and foundation are already in
place," notes Matt Retzak, a project designer with Bartelt. The
Remodeling Resource. Your dollar can stretch further for higher
quality products. If your master plan will be completed in phases,
debate the cost of each project, he notes.
Value. The real
estate market is recovering, but it’s not necessarily back yet. Is
the potential resale value worth your initial investment? Redesigning
your basement, bathroom or kitchen might be more cost-effective than
starting over in a new house. Paulette Sodemann, a designer at Callen
Construction, suggests putting more into your remodel and later
increasing the asking price.
Before committing to a project, determine if your vision is even
possible — based on the house and the property. New construction
starts with a clean slate. An existing structure has to be unmade and
re-created. "A remodel is a work-around to get where you want to
go," Sodemann says.
you love where you currently live for the school district, your
neighbors or the life you built there, the choice to renovate allows
you to stay and improve your situation. As Tim O’Brien, president of
Tim O’Brien Homes, puts it, "Remodeling can take away the pain
of living in that same old house."
"How long do you plan to stay in your home?" asks Sodemann.
"Five years? Twenty? Indefinitely?" Even a small change can
make a big difference. Adding recessed or under-cabinet LED lights
improves energy efficiency and reduces utility costs.
"A house is
the biggest investment you’ll make. Why not meet your wish list as
much as you can?" asks Sua Wolter. She and husband Justin are
building in the town of Lisbon with Kings Way Homes. New construction
was the goal, but first they researched building firms and explored
models. The Wolters desired an open floor plan, four bedrooms, a nice
kitchen and contemporary style. Their best fit was a two-story Kings
Way design they customized with personal touches like a sunroom
instead of a formal dining room. "We had a lot of fun," Sua
customization. In a remodel, the focus is limited to a specific area,
but a new home has a more holistic approach. "Building allows you
to improve every aspect of your living experience," says O’Brien,
of Tim O’Brien Homes.
new. All elements are a reflection of you, from flooring to cabinets,
wall color and countertops. The "nuts and bolts" products
are new too, like the furnace, water heater and roof, notes Paul
Bielinski, chief operating officer of Bielinski Homes. Manufacturer,
structural and one-year builder warranties provide additional peace of
modern living. "We all have busy lifestyles, with less time for
families to spend together," Bielinski says. With an open-concept
floor plan, the kitchen, dining and great rooms become one large space
for everyone to gather. If more privacy is desired, a split bedroom
layout separates the master suite from other bedrooms.
construction. "People say we don’t build homes the way they
used to, and I say, you’re right. We’ve learned to build
better," O’Brien says. Today’s contractors meet eco-friendly
and energy efficiency standards, and use the latest technology and
techniques for increased safety and durability.