Over the years we have met many potential clients who ask the remodeling conundrum: Should I move or remodel? It’s a valid question homeowners are urged to ponder and investigate before deciding the best path to achieve a home that suits them and serves their desired functions best.
So, how do you know what’s the best option for your family? Here are five things to consider before making this important financial decision.
The city, town, and neighborhood in which you live are important. There is a saying in the world of real estate: “Location, location, location.” This concept is a critical factor in deciding whether to stay where you are and remodel your home, or find another property.
Location is permanent; a structure can be altered and improved. If you love your neighborhood, your community, and the local school district, that checks the box for remodeling.
On the other hand, if you aren’t enamored with where you live — whatever the reason – that is an indicator that moving might be a better option. Even if you remodel your home, the location stays the same. Ultimately, you should love your location because that is one thing a remodel can’t solve.
How long do you plan to live in your current home? If you’re in a “starter home” and planning to “move up,” or if your existing home is too big for your lifestyle and downsizing makes sense, moving may be the way to go.
But, if you plan to stay put for a while and want your home to better align with your lifestyle and needs, remodeling is worth exploring.
Another consideration is whether it’s feasibly possible for you to remodel or add onto your current home. Each city and county have unique restrictions for maximum lot coverage and floor area ratio (FAR), both of which impact additions and remodels.
Lot coverage is defined as the percentage of your property covered by buildings and structures and, in some jurisdictions, impermeable surfaces. For example, houses (only the enclosed ground floor area), garages, accessory buildings, gazebos, swimming pools, driveways, and covered patios can all count as part of lot coverage.
On the other hand, floor area ratio (FAR) is the aggregate area of all floors of your home and accessory dwelling units as a percentage of your total lot. Some cities and counties also include covered front porches, basements, and portions of attics as part of FAR. Garages and sheds are not included as part of floor area ratio.
These two factors limit adding square footage for some homes, but, says Harrell Remodeling Senior Designer Sheila Ward Hesting, that doesn’t mean you can’t remodel within your home’s existing footprint.
“One of our clients thought they wanted to add onto their home, but that wasn’t feasible, so instead, we created new flow and function by relocating rooms, knocking down walls, and designing a fresh new floor plan. Their home became a space that finally worked for their lifestyle without having to add square footage,” elaborates Sheila.
She also stresses that conducting thorough research in advance is essential. “Not only does an in-depth feasibility study fully outline the city or county building requirements, but it also informs the design and helps determine the project budget.”
Depending on the size and scope of the project, an addition or remodel can be a significant financial investment. But, often, buying a new home involves a sizable increase in property taxes, especially if you’ve been living in your current home for a long while. Also, the Bay Area housing market is competitive, with many homes going well over the asking price. Increased property taxes and mortgage payments, not to mention an aggressive buyer’s market, can make moving financially unappealing.
Although adding onto or remodeling your home does involve monetary outlay, and your property tax basis will be readjusted (if certain rooms are added), the total cost is frequently equal to or less than what will be incurred by relocating.
Sheila concedes that all of the above-mentioned factors are essential considerations, but she reminds clients that finding another home that meets their specific wants and needs, both now and in the future, is slim to none.
Remodeling creates a space designed exclusively for your distinctive lifestyle: a skilled designer crafts and curates your home’s flow and functionality around how you live.
Do you enjoy entertaining indoors and out?
Is cooking or baking a passion for one or more family members?
What storage and organization solutions can be incorporated?
Is there a need or desire to include elements of Universal Design?
Do you have pets and want to design a unique space just for them?
Sheila shares the story of a remodeling project where the owners were cat lovers. With six felines in the house, they had a problem finding discrete locations for the numerous litter boxes. What they did have was a large laundry room. Sheila took advantage of the space, designing unique built-in cabinetry with separate cubbies for each litter box and a remote, motion sensor activated exhaust fan that wouldn’t frighten the cats, and keeps odors at bay. She also installed exterior shed doors behind the cabinetry that allow the owners to access the litter boxes from the outside, making an easy, no-mess cleanup.
“These homeowners would never have found another home that met this particular requirement,” Sheila points out. “Finding ‘the’ perfect home isn’t a reality. That is one of the biggest benefits of remodeling — your home is designed just for you.”
Answering these five questions can narrow down whether it makes more sense for you to move or remodel.
And, if you’re still unsure, seeking professional advice about the potential of your existing home can be illuminating. Sheila emphasizes, “Homeowners frequently can’t see their home’s possibilities. An accomplished designer can show you what your home can become.”
Harrell Remodeling Inc. provides clients with unmatched service, convenience, and quality from conception through construction. The Harrell Design + Build team can help you embrace your aesthetic, make the most of your resources, and create quality spaces that fit the unique way that you live.
Are you dreaming of ways to reimagine your home? We invite you to schedule a complimentary discussion with one of our experienced Designers.
Or attend one of our virtual workshops to learn more about the Harrell Remodeling Design + Build experience.
Woman Founded and 100% Employee-Owned, Harrell Remodeling Inc. has created distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and on the mid-Peninsula since 1985. Our Design + Build Team is here to help you reimagine your home inside and out.