For one reason or another (or more), your house no longer meets your needs. Should we renovate or move? The short answer is that there are a lot of factors at play and there are times when both are appropriate.
9 questions to ask before remodeling, renovating or moving
1. What is your level of emotional attachment?
Many couples have an emotional attachment to the first home they bought together. Others move to a house they inherited after the death of a spouse’s parents. Whatever the reason, if you or your spouse has a strong emotional attachment to the home, consider a renovation rather than a move to meet your needs. Renovating and remodeling a home can give you what you need while retaining many of those great memories.
If it’s about keeping the property rather than living in it, renting it out to people you trust can be a way to offset the cost of keeping it while you move into another home. It also gives you the option to come back later if you wish.
Don’t overlook the emotion when you decide to remodel or relocate. This choice will accompany you for a long time!
2. Will a move improve your zoned schools?
This one is pretty straightforward. Location, location, location! If the neighborhood you are in is unsafe, or if you can provide a better education for your children by moving, start packing.
On the other hand, perfect neighborhoods and big schools are hard to find. If you are well placed, the decision to move or renovate decisively moves to the renovation camp. Even if you are currently studying at home, understanding potential schools during your more difficult high school years can help point you in one direction either to renovate your home or to relocate.
3. Do you need more space?
You can save space by moving into a new home, adding to your current home, or sometimes just reconfiguring the space you have available. Buying a new home for you is exciting, stressful, and fun, but it’s not always the best option.
If it’s just square feet, pull out your calculator and think about the cost of renovating or moving. Don’t forget the interest rates and start over with a new mortgage. This interest adds up over 30 years!
4. Is your entire home design obsolete?
The 80’s called… and they want their house back. There is a time in the life of every general contractor when you look back and hope no one remembers that you built houses with styles from decades ago. If you live in one of these homes, style doesn’t have to chase you. In fact, we’ve rounded up some of the best home improvement ideas to get you going.
Old tile work is relatively easy to demonstrate and replace with modern looks. You can update kitchens and floors. Repainting the interior and exterior instantly gives you a new look. We’re also finding that installing modern architectural shingles or even a metal roof can really improve the look of your home… as long as it’s structurally sound.
Also consider improving the curb appeal with a landscaping makeover.
As a bonus, giving an older home a modern update can really improve its value if you decide to sell later. On the other hand, you might fall in love with it again and stay there for another 20 years.
5. Does your house have good “bones”?
You might have a lot of square footage in your home, but the space just isn’t optimal. Simply renovating an existing room (or two) can solve many problems. When you renovate your home, you are updating the areas that you need to change while leaving the rest of what you love alone.
When planning to renovate or relocate, keep in mind that walls and doors can be moved as well. It’s just drywall, studs, electrical, and plumbing. Alright, so this strength simplify things a bit. Still, for a qualified contractor, remodeling part of your home isn’t as scary as it sounds.
6. Do you like your neighbors?
Whether your neighbors have a loud dog or have a “used car lot” on their lawns, their behavior can make your life pleasant or miserable.
While there are often codes you can point out to alleviate some of the frustration, moving is the only guarantee you have to get away from it. While we always advocate making peace with our neighbors, you certainly can’t force good behavior if it doesn’t break the law. In this case, moving could bring some relief.
7. Have you taken into account landscaping, swimming pools and general maintenance?
I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t want to spend all Saturday day working on the construction site. I also don’t want to pay someone to do it. So I fully understand when it’s time to take lawn care out and go for a smaller lawn. It could be that the job is just too crazy or you are just getting old enough that it is difficult to keep up. Either way, moving is your best bet, unless you can find disposable income to rent it out.
8. How are your finances?
As we progress in our careers, a salary increase provides opportunities to move into another house in a new neighborhood. Conversely, layoffs, retirements or unforeseen emergencies can strain your financial situation. In these cases, downsizing makes sense.
If you are booming in your career, remodeling, adding, and moving are all viable options. If you are looking to have a lower or fixed income, moving could be your best bet. Also, don’t forget your refinancing options. If you can lower your mortgage and have some equity in your home, it can drastically reduce your payments.
One thing we rarely recommend, however, is losing your progress when refinancing. We are not licensed financial professionals, however, around here we like to see homes paid off as quickly as possible. Despite what some accountants might tell you, having debt is really not a good thing. If you only have 15 years left on your mortgage, we (officially) recommend that you do everything in your power to convert it to a term of 15 years (or less). Going back to a 30-year loan results in a dramatic increase in the overall interest paid over the life of the loan.
9. What is the effect on your journey?
Our last question is perhaps the most important? How far are you traveling? You can’t do a 25-hour day, but shortening your trip can literally add hours to your day in some cases. Sitting down to dinner at 6:00 am is better to be seated in traffic at the same time. This obviously requires travel.
Whether you’re renovating or moving, it’s a big decision and one that you shouldn’t take lightly. Planning ahead and talking to a trusted financial advisor can clear the way.
One thing to keep in mind – if you are asking a contractor for a quote for renovations or remodeling, expect to pay them for their time. The time they spend with you is the time they don’t build and they also have families to support. On the bright side, many contractors will credit you with the cost of the estimate if you choose their company to do the work.