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Custom home vs remodel

Building a New Custom Home vs a Remodel: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Deciding between building a new custom home or undertaking a part or full remodel project is a significant decision for homeowners. Both options have their merits and potential drawbacks, and understanding them is crucial to making an informed decision. This article explores the pros and cons of each approach, helping you navigate the complexities of choosing between building a new custom home and remodelling your existing one.

Building a new custom home


Customization

When designing and building a custom home, one of the greatest advantages is the opportunity for customization. Unlike purchasing a pre-built house, or remodelling an existing structure, a custom home allows you to tailor every aspect of the design to your specific needs, preferences, and lifestyle. From the layout and floor plan to the materials, finishes, and fixtures, the level of customization is unparalleled. You have the freedom to create a home that truly reflects your personal style and functionality requirements. Whether it’s a spacious gourmet kitchen, a dedicated home office, or luxurious bathroom features, building a custom home ensures that every detail is carefully considered and designed to meet your unique vision.

Modern features

When choosing to build a custom home, you have the opportunity to incorporate the latest energy-efficient systems and design trends. From solar panels and geothermal heating to smart home automation, passive solar design, an airtight building envelope and high-performance insulation; these energy-efficient systems can not only save you money on utility bills but also contribute to a more sustainable future.

Structural integrity

A new custom home provides a solid foundation that ensures hour home fully complies with current building codes and regulations. You also have the opportunity to incorporate future-proofing measures such as getting net-zero ready. Opting for a net-zero-ready custom home allows you to integrate sustainable design principles and energy-efficient features right from the start.

By incorporating a renewable energy system like solar panels, with energy-efficient appliances and smart home technologies, your home could be fully net zero. You can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and energy consumption by producing enough energy to cover all of your home’s needs.

Could there be a downside to choosing to build a new custom home?

Building a new home often comes with a higher price tag due to land acquisition, design fees, permits, construction expenses, and potential unforeseen costs. These expenses can exceed the budget, especially if there are unforeseen challenges or changes during the building process.

Constructing a custom home involves several stages, including design, planning, obtaining permits, and the actual construction. Delays can occur due to weather conditions, material availability, or coordination issues with contractors. This longer construction timeframe can lead to extended timeframes before you can move into your new home.

Building a custom home requires extensive involvement and decision-making by you. You’ll need to actively participate in the design and selection of materials, finishes, fixtures, and other details. This level of involvement may be overwhelming for people who prefer a more hands-off approach, or who have limited time available to visit the site and meet with the builder.

Building a custom home carries a certain level of uncertainty and risk. Despite careful planning, there is always the possibility of unexpected challenges or additional costs arising during the construction process. Weather conditions, construction delays, or even changes in building codes and regulations can impact the timeline and budget.

Finding the perfect building lot that meets your criteria, such as location, view, size, amenities, and proximity to schools or other facilities, can be a complex task. It may require thorough research, working closely with a real estate agent, or even waiting for the right opportunity to become available.

Desirable neighbourhoods often have limited available lots, which can increase competition and drive up prices. Builders and Realtors® will often have potential tear-down properties or pocket listings in mind, so there may be property available that’s not in the MLS inventory. It’s important to be patient, flexible and prepared to adapt your plans to the available options.

Part or full remodel


Cost savings

By working with the existing structure, you can avoid the expenses associated with land acquisition, foundation construction, and major structural work. Remodelling also allows you to make selective changes to specific areas of your home, focusing on areas that need improvement or updating while leaving other parts untouched. You can save money by living in part of the house, while another section is undergoing reconstruction.

This targeted approach can help allocate your budget more efficiently and prioritize upgrades based on your needs and preferences. Remodelling can provide the opportunity to repurpose existing materials, fixtures, and appliances, reducing the need for new purchases and further lowering costs.

Preserving the character of the home

Many older homes have unique architectural features, historical significance, or sentimental value that contribute to their charm and character. By choosing to remodel, instead of building new, you can retain and enhance these distinctive elements, preserving the overall aesthetic and character of your home. And you get to continue living in the neighbourhood you love and feel at home in.

Remodelling not only adds to the value and appeal of the property but also maintains the connection to its history and context within the neighbourhood. Remodelling allows you to integrate modern conveniences and design elements while respecting the original craftsmanship and architectural details. It offers an opportunity to blend the old with the new, creating a space that reflects both your style and the rich heritage of the home.

Faster project completion

One of the most significant advantages of remodelling your existing home is the shortened timeline compared to building a new custom home. When starting from scratch, designing and constructing a custom home can be a lengthy process that involves several stages, including site preparation, foundation construction, framing, and finishing. On the other hand, remodelling your existing home allows you to work with the existing structure and infrastructure, which can dramatically shorten the time needed for completion.

Since the foundation and basic framework are already in place, the remodelling process can focus primarily on updating and enhancing specific areas, such as the kitchen, bathrooms, or living spaces. This streamlined approach allows for a more efficient project timeline, enabling you to enjoy the benefits of your newly remodelled home in a relatively shorter period.

Could there be a downside to choosing to remodel your home?

One aspect to consider when choosing to remodel your existing home, instead of building a new custom home, is the potential structural constraints and design compromises that may arise. Existing homes often have pre-existing layouts, load-bearing walls, and structural limitations that can impact your options and the decision-making process. Working within these constraints may require adjustments to your desired design, such as relocating plumbing or electrical systems, adding an extension, or compromising on certain design elements.

A remodelling project may uncover hidden issues, such as outdated wiring or plumbing, which may require additional repairs or sizeable upgrades, with increased costs. Design compromises may also be necessary to blend the new additions or modifications seamlessly with the existing structure, ensuring structural integrity and maintaining the overall aesthetic appeal.

While remodelling offers the opportunity to update and enhance your existing home, it is important to be aware of the potential challenges and compromises that may arise during the process to ensure realistic expectations and successful outcomes.

Key factors to consider

When faced with the decision of whether to remodel an existing home or build a new one, there are two key considerations.

1. The condition of your current home

The condition of your present home is a crucial consideration. If the existing structure is outdated, has significant structural issues, or lacks the necessary space and layout for your needs, building a new home may be the better option. On the other hand, if the current home has ‘good bones’ and only requires cosmetic updates and minor structural changes, remodelling might be a more cost-effective choice.

2. Personal preference and customization

Building a new home offers you complete customization, allowing you to design a space that perfectly suits your lifestyle and fulfills your aesthetic preferences. From layout and room sizes to finishes and materials, every detail can be tailored to your exact specifications. Remodelling, on the other hand, provides the chance to work with the existing structure and preserve its unique character while making necessary updates. If you value the charm and history of an older home, remodelling allows you to retain those elements while still improving the functionality and modernizing the space.

The takeaway

Choosing between building a new custom home and undertaking a part or full remodel is a big decision. Each of the three options has its pros and cons, and it’s important to carefully consider factors such as budget, customization, timeline, and location. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your vision, budget, and lifestyle.

Reid Madiuk

Reid Madiuk's been putting on a toolbelt since he was twelve years old, alongside his father, one of Whistler's first residential builders. As a third-generation Squamish and Whistler builder, Reid brings over 20 years of carpentry expertise to designing and constructing exceptional homes.

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