How do I decide if I should remodel or buy a new house with a better kitchen, bathroooms, etc.?

Asked by kimmoy, New York, NY Mon Mar 25, 2013

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Steve Mun’s answer
Steve Mun, Agent, Campbell, CA
Mon Jul 15, 2013

I think Vickie made an excellent point. Everything is about location.

If you are currently in 95129 , you already know that you are in one of the premier zip codes in Silicon Valley. People are competing to get into the area with its fantastic schools. It would be much easier to fix the kitchen and baths and resell later in this area than to find a place that is newer but not as highly sought for resale purposes.

It depends on what your goals are.

Steve Mun Group
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Juliana Lee, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Sun Mar 31, 2013
I recently helped one of my buyers analyze their 3 bedroom 1 bath home. In their neighborhood, adding a second bathroom would increase the value of their home by about $50,000. This was specific to their neighborhood and that they had a 3 bed/1 bath home.

For San Jose I have statistics for knocking down an old house and building a new one which show that this has resulted in an increased sales price of about $240 sf.

I have personally remodeled several of my own homes and had a new custom home built for me. It can be very time consuming. I have a short diary of building my new home at

You will have to weigh the inconvenience and time needed to remodel/rebuild against the effort and cost of moving. To judge the value of a remodel your specific home and desired changes have to be looked at.

In terms of general guidance I would say look at your family. If you feel your family is better equipped to deal with a major remodel than most families then remodeling could be a good choice. Keep in mind though that your specific tastes may not match what is selling well. Most likely you do not have experience remodeling and it will require you learn and recover from poor choices quickly. You are basically betting that you can do it as efficiently as those who do it to earn their living or you have free time which you are willing to spend without making money.

Good luck with your decision,

Juliana Lee
Top 2 agent nationwide at Keller Williams Realty

Over 30 years experience
Over 1,000 homes sold in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties
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1 vote
John Arendsen, Agent, Leucadia, CA
Tue Mar 26, 2013
As a RE broker and a general contractor I can tell you from first hand experience that kitchen and bathroom remodels are the most expensive undertaking there is in a home. Trying to come in under or even at your budget is very difficult because you never know what you're going to run into until you start your demolition.

I just removed and replaced the doors and windows along the back side of my primary residence of 33 years. I hired my son as he is also a GC but specializes in windows and doors. The budget was 25k. But when his crew started in on the demo they discovered extensive termite and dry rot damage along most of the wall and had to remove and reframe much of it as well as stuccoing a Santa Barbara pull trowel finish which was very expensive. $50k later I was glad to see the tail lights on my son and his crews trucks heading out of the driveway.

Having specialized in insurance and disaster repair work for almost 3 decades I can tell you that you just can't second guess what you will discover until you get into a project. Any contractor that commits to a firm price without a contingency clause to cover him in the event he discovers additional damages and or things that need to be done in order to finish the project is asking for problems that can and usually do cost him a huge amount of his profit if not a loss.

With a new home purchase everything is brand new and you have warranties that protect you in the event something isn't working properly or you discover damage of some sort. Now as Vickie has so aptly stated if you're in a home and a neighborhood you are really comfortable with then remodeling is good for you providing you go into it knowing that you're probably going to end up spending a whole lot more than you thought you would. Good luck.
1 vote
Norman Aless…, Agent, San Jose, CA
Tue Mar 26, 2013
I agree with Elena, if you do not have a floor plan you like then I would look at purchasing a new home.
Remember if you do this you will be paying top dollar for it especially if the schools are good.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
At your service,
Certified Distressed Property Expert
1 vote
Elena Talis, Broker, Palo Alto, CA
Mon Mar 25, 2013
It depends... If the general floor plan is acceptable then remodel. I don't think you want to be a buyer on this market anywhere in Bay Area.
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1 vote
Vickie Chand…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Tue Mar 26, 2013
Hi, Kimmoy ~

I'm sure you've heard the old adage: Location, Location, Location. Well, if you love your neighborhood and your neighbors, fix your home. If you don't, time for a change.

The fact of the matter is that a floor plan can be changed. You can have the home of your dreams right where you are and if you happen to be blessed with Cupertino schools in the 95129, even better! Your dollars would be well spent it that case.

If, however, you are not super happy with your neighborhood, or neighbors, it is probably time for a change. Only you can know that.

In closing, I will say that the FHA 203(k) option is a fantastic way to go. I have had several clients do this and they have been very happy with this program.

Good luck!

Vickie Chandler DRE#01443573
Keller Williams Realty
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