Renovate an Old House vs Building a New One
Sometimes we may be faced with deciding to keep an existing home or tearing it down and starting over. Is it worth keeping an old house and remodelling or renovating it, or should you tear it down and start over?
How do you assess whether or not to renovate/remodel or tear down and build new?
It is important to get your architect, designer, or engineer involved right at the beginning, even your realtor, if you are considering purchasing an older house. You also need to find out what your local municipality requires when it comes to heritage houses.
If you already own the house and want to renovate it, you may have an idea of what will need to be replaced and any restrictions that the City and/or the historical society has. However, if you are looking to buy an older house, you should be very thorough in the assessment of it.
Those thinking about acquiring an older house should enlist their realtor’s help to determine if the house has been registered with the local heritage society and what their requirements or restrictions are for remodelling and renovating. You don’t want to purchase an older house only to find out that you cannot put in a stand-up shower with modern fixtures next to the claw foot bathtub.
Other things to consider when thinking about purchasing an older house are: how old is the house? When was the electrical wiring last updated; has it ever been updated? How current is the existing plumbing? If you upgrade the plumbing (not just the fixtures), will the City require you to upgrade your sewer and water connections at street level? How much will that cost? What about insulation, windows, the roof and foundation? When you purchase the house, these last items should be given first priority before anything else.
Remember, in the city of Vancouver, there would be necessary to apply for a permit for any house upgrade. If the house has older wiring and plumbing, it is highly recommended to have it upgraded. Usually, during the upgrade, the trades need to open the drywalls and run the new lines. Most important of all, you have to make sure the old house does not contain any asbestos. That can be determined by a certified contractor.
I had a client who was planning to do a minor renovation in their newly bought home, and after the asbestos test result came positive, they ended up removing the drywall from the entire house and upgrading their insulation as well.
I had another client who couldn’t make up her mind if it was beneficial for her to renovate or rebuild.
Renovating might cost over $200,000 less (depending on each house and the extent of renovation) compared to re-building, but if you ever think of re-selling the house, the house’s title will never change as the date is built. It will consider an old house with a major renovation which might affect your asking price determination.
Concrete is meant to serve 100 years, and if you buy a 50 year old house, its foundation passed half of its lifetime. Spending $400K to $600K to renovate an existing house might be good for the environment to re-use some of the existing materials and the style of the house, but at the same time, you have to check the economic feasibility of new built vs. renovation.
In summary, some things to consider if renovating are:
- When was the house built?
- Is your house designated heritage?
- What is your budget, and are you prepared to go over budget if needed to meet industry standards, and municipal and heritage requirements?
- Is there any asbestos in the house, and how much does it cost to remove it if there is any
- Will the electrical wiring need to be upgraded?
- Will the plumbing need to be upgraded? Will that require new sewer/water connections?
- Do the windows need to be replaced to get a better insulation value and how much would that cost?
- Will the walls need to be deepened to accommodate thicker insulation?
- Where will you stay; in the house or somewhere else? What is the cost of staying somewhere else?
- Do you have children and/or animals that will be affected by being in the house or displaced during the renovation?
And some things to consider if building new:
- What is your budget? Is your budget flexible?
- What are the building requirements for your local municipality?
- How long is it going to take?
- Where are you going to live while the house if being built? How much will that cost?
- Are you going to use the house as an income property (rent it out) or live in it?
- How long do you expect to live in the house when you are finished?
Check out the following blog posts on Myhomedesigner.com about renovations in Vancouver:
Here are some documents you can download to help with your decision-making process:
Deciding whether to renovate an existing house or to tear it down and start over is when you definitely should seek the advice of experts. Myhomedesigner.com Ltd. is experienced in dealing with both renovations as well as new or re-built homes and has extensive experience in investment in real estate which can help you to make an inform decision. We are ready to answer your questions; contact us by filling out the form on our website or call 604-929-6696.[
What is an architect’s job anyway?...