The Homeowner Dilemma: Should We Stay or Should We Go

By: Sherry and Paul Zuch

Over the years, we’ve had numerous clients wrestle with the decision to stay in their house and make major improvements, tear down and build new, or sell and move to another home. 

This complex situation comes with multiple considerations and pros and cons for each.

We recently worked with a young couple with a growing family facing this dilemma. They loved their neighborhood and wanted to stay, but their 1940s-era cottage-style home was too small and needed major renovations to suit their lifestyle. The probable solution was to add a second-story addition to get the additional space required and reconfigure the existing ones to improve functionality. They also wanted to upgrade finishes to reflect their style and current design trends. However, an investment like this exceeded the current home’s value and triggered the debate we are discussing.  

In evaluating options, we walked the couple through some pros and cons:

Remodeling Pros:

• Remodeling allows homeowners to remain in the neighborhood they love.

• You don’t have to move to the suburbs to get your “dream” house.

• Children don’t have to change schools due to a relocation.

• Remodeling older homes maintains the neighborhood charm.

• Property taxes are more favorable compared to new home values.

Remodeling Cons:

• You may need to find temporary housing for the remodel duration.

• Existing foundation and structure may not support major additions without significant enhancements.

• Existing plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems, etc. will likely need to be replaced or upgraded.

• Existing building components likely don’t meet current energy and building codes.

• Element of surprise along the way due to unforeseen conditions.

• Entire house will be required to meet all building and energy codes if the cost of the improvements exceeds 50% of the current home value.

In the case of these homeowners, they decided to renovate instead of move.

Their dramatic home makeover allowed this family to stay in their neighborhood and enjoy significant improvements that created this beautiful, one-of-a-kind home. Renovations included exterior improvements to increase curb appeal, an addition, extensive reconfiguration of the owners’ wing, and interior renovations to create better efficiency and flow.

A seasoned builder/remodeler can guide you through this process. We always suggest consulting with a real estate professional familiar with your neighborhood to understand resale values better after the proposed improvements.

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