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Is there a point when it makes more sense to tear down an older home and build new, as opposed to remodeling the existing one? The question of tearing down vs remodeling is the subject of this blog. Depending on the situation, the cost difference can be quite substantial. There are also non-budgetary considerations that could make one option more appealing than the other.

Remodel Old Home or Build New?

It seems simple enough: tearing down an older home and you can have the newly built home you want in a neighborhood you love. But it’s not always that clear-cut. Factors to consider include:

  • How far gone is the existing structure and is anything worth keeping?
  • Is there anything you love about your older home that would be difficult or expensive to replicate?
  • Does your home have historical significance?
  • Are there zoning regulations that make a tear-down difficult or very expensive? Depending on where you live there can be big penalties for a knock down.

In many communities, local rules encourage homeowners to choose renovations over demolitions. For example, they may make permitting easier, faster, and less expensive. Sometimes it makes sense to retain part of the old structure in your new design.

No matter what, the decision to remodel or build new should not be taken lightly. Based on our experience, here are some topics to ponder before making up your mind.

1. Does your older home have plenty of character?

remodel old home or build new wayne pa

Crown moldings, solid-core or pocket doors, and arched doorways are just a few of the features people love about older homes. Often made with higher quality wood, brick, or stone, these houses also have other touches that are difficult and often expensive to replicate today. In some cases – railings for example – code may not let you install deck railings you like because they don’t meet code. If those same railings are existing and will not be changed, you are allowed to keep them. If you want to keep your older home’s original architectural details, you may want to remodel.

Some people love the character of an older home, but building new can be just as exciting. While there’s no building an old house, there are ways to achieve a similar look. Using reclaimed and repurposed materials is just one way to achieve a historic look. In the Main Line area, there are brand new homes being built in historic districts that look era appropriate, so it’s possible to have a thoroughly modern home that seamlessly blends with the neighborhood.

2. Is your home structurally sound?

remodel old home or build new wayne pa

If your home has a crumbling foundation, it’s a serious matter that could make your decision for you. If there are major structural issues, a teardown might be recommended. How are some ways to tell if your house is still sound?

  • When viewing your home from outside, the walls should be straight and plumb.
  • Interior walls should be free of major cracks.
  • Are there sagging floors or ceilings?
  • The crawl space or basement should be dry.

There are plenty of reasons for making major changes, too. Some older homes aren’t worth preserving. While there are many older, pre-1930s homes still in sound condition, homes more than 75 years old should be looked at with a clear and critical eye. If a home has not been taken good care of over the years, you might want to rebuild or undertake a whole house remodel.

In these cases, most of our clients remodel multiple rooms and the project often includes upgrading the electrical, plumbing, and heating systems. It’s the perfect way to keep the bones of the house while building with newer materials and making it more energy-efficient.

3. What role does budget play in your decision?

remodel old home or build new wayne pa

Many people are surprised to hear that it’s actually easier to build a new house than remodel an old one. Building new means a clean slate to work with, the homeowners do not have to live in the house while it’s being worked on, and there’s no time spent on details like trying to line up a new addition with crooked walls. On the flip side, while you might save by building new, you may find that you love the level of detail your old home has. In that case, it could make sense to budget for a remodel.

Decisions, Decisions

In the final analysis, what it really comes down to is what type of home you want to live in. Ask yourself if you want a home that is thoroughly new, energy efficient, and fully wired for today’s technology. Do the existing room layouts make sense for your family’s lifestyle? If you can’t achieve the style and look you want at a reasonable budget by remodeling, then building new may be your inevitable answer.

Learn More

If you’re looking for a remodeling partner who will bring your vision to life with the craftsmanship and character your older Main Line home deserves, Cottage Industries is the right choice. Since 1989, we’ve been working with homeowners on the Main Line and in the greater Philadelphia area to provide unique solutions that enhance their lifestyle and honor the integrity of their older home.

To learn more, schedule a conversation with us today. We look forward to meeting with you!


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