You’ve finally come to terms with it: You’ve outgrown your house. Maybe your lifestyle has changed and you now need a dedicated home office — and the kitchen table just isn’t cutting it. Or perhaps you need more play space for your new kiddo (or puppy!). Whatever the reason, when your home feels as though it’s bursting at the seams, you’ve got two options: expand your current home’s footprint with an addition or remodel, or search for a larger home. It might seem pretty straightforward, but there are many considerations to ponder before you start browsing the listings of homes for sale in Aurora, CO, or Atlanta, GA. Here are eight questions you should ask yourself before you make the big decision to remodel or move.
1. What are the benefits of remodeling?
Remodeling is typically less expensive than buying a new home — unless you’re the type to splurge on expensive extras like a heated bathroom floor, steam shower, or home theater. But if you can exercise some self-control (and stick to a renovation budget), you can remodel one room at a time and have it done just the way you want it without overspending. “If you love the neighborhood and the local schools, and you are willing to live through a lot of disruption — or move out for six months to a year, depending on the scope of the renovation — then it’s worth the aggravation and expense,” says Leslie Saul of Leslie Saul & Associates Inc., a Massachusetts architecture and interiors firm.
2. What are the cons of remodeling a house?
Can you say dust, dumpsters, drilling, and disruption? Yes, moving into a new home can come with its own particular set of challenges, but you shouldn’t underestimate the inconvenience of living in a construction zone while the work is being completed. Sharing your home with contractors isn’t a highlight either. Paying for temporary rental housing might be a better option — if your budget allows for it.
There’s also the question of return on investment for home remodeling projects. Your improvements could make your home stand out from all the others in your neighborhood. This can be problematic, and not just because you’ll make your neighbors jealous. Rather, a unique or custom home is unlikely to sell for much (or any) more than what the other homes in your neighborhood sell for, no matter how much you spend on renovations. “Your [home value] is controlled by neighboring properties,” says Keith Hartke, a Virginia real estate agent. If you overprice your home compared with the neighborhood, “Buyers will not pay it, and lenders will not loan on it,” he adds.
3. What are the advantages of buying a big house?
Buying a larger home is exciting: A new home can start a new life chapter for your family. Plus, you’ve probably learned from mistakes in your first home (such as what paint colors make a room look larger), and you’re more confident overall when it comes to managing a house (after all, you successfully figured out that sprinkler system). If your life is already much too busy to tackle overseeing a renovation project — think toddlers, work deadlines, or caring for aging parents — moving into a larger home that suits your current needs could be comparatively hassle-free and less time-consuming than remodeling your current house.
4. What are the drawbacks to buying a larger home?
If buying the “next size up” in your neighborhood is your goal, it’s probably going to set you back a bit financially — and significantly more than remodeling your current home probably would. Consider, for example, the median price of a home for sale in Atlanta, GA, where a two-bedroom home in 2015 was $220,000 compared with $372,250 for a four-bedroom home: a difference of $152,250. Of course, remodeling costs vary widely depending on the scope of your project. Before you decide whether to remodel or move, run the numbers to find out how much your remodel will cost and compare that number with the cost of buying a larger home.
5. Will building a home addition pay off when it’s time to sell?
Building an addition because you need the space (and are planning to stay in the house for a while) is one thing, but improving the house with the intention of getting out of the house what you put into it probably won’t happen. Additions do add value but not necessarily a full return on your investment.
6. Will the home addition address future needs?
Adding two extra bedrooms to accommodate your growing family may be enough for all your needs, but do you need more leisure space too? Will the cozy kitchen that’s just right for two people be big enough down the road? Is there enough storage space? What about bathrooms? Think about whether everyone can live happily — and comfortably — sharing the space of the common areas of your home.
7. Are you willing to move farther away?
Houses tend to cost less the farther they are from the city, but there are other costs involved with moving to the suburbs. For example, you’ll need to be sure you can deal with a longer commute. And if you’ll now be driving an hour to get to work, it’s important to factor in the extra expenses of gas and car maintenance. And when your weekdays are filled with commuting, you’ll need to spend the weekends running errands — the same errands you may have completed during the week when you lived close to work.
8. How will you finance the addition?
If you have enough equity built up, you can take out a home equity loan. Home additions and renovations are ideal uses for this type of loan, since they usually come with low interest rates that are tax-deductible. If you don’t qualify for a home equity loan, start a savings account and make regular deposits. It may take longer, but it gives you the option to build your addition without taking on extra debt. Or, if you have little or no credit card debt — and your project is small enough — consider taking out a credit card with 0% interest and pay it off during the card’s limited-time-offer period. Whatever you decide, just be sure to talk to your insurance agent about completing a home insurance review to ensure that your investment in properly protected.
Have you faced the remodel-or-move dilemma? Tell us what influenced your decision in the comments below!
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