michael buss after renovation

Teardown or Renovate your home?

Years ago while working on our own home renovation I heard my son ask Sue, “Why can’t we have a new home like Dad does for everyone else?”

She smiled because there’s not a simple answer to give a then 6 year old.  But as my son grew older and moved into his first place, selected by location he commented that he understands.

We’ve all heard the golden rule when choosing real estate…Location, Location, Location.

Where you live is important – things to consider:  Is access to work easy?  What about shopping, schools parks?  Is your family close by (as in our case), or maybe far away if that’s to your wishes?  What is the vibe of the neighborhood?  Close knit? Urban chic?  Does the area fit with how you want to live?

Once you factor all these decisions it’s time to choose your homes location.  And the Chicagoland area finding all those items and an empty lot to boot can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. You are more likely to find an existing home and then the decision is to renovate, remodel, or tear it down and build new.  Start with a clean slate.

Sometimes the decision is easy.

You find that gem, that diamond in the rough, the old home with great bones that hasn’t been hacked up and you think to yourself, “Just a few modifications and I have the perfect home.”  Sounds great doesn’t it?  These homes are few and far between, and after really studying what you bought the answer may be a full home renovation.  Simple things, like a new kitchen, new baths, relocate the laundry from the basement to the second floor, refinish the floors, new windows, and I haven’t even mentioned the mechanical systems or that wall you want to move 6” yet.

Wait, maybe you should build new?

No a renovation would be cheaper right, I mean the basics are there already.  So let’s clear something up first. You don’t consider a full house renovation if your main reason is thinking it is a cost saving option over new construction.  Most of the time it is not true.  But if that 90 year old house has character, and you love the space, or maybe the details, like the millwork, the stair case or art glass windows, then that would factor into your decision heavily.  Another important factor is are you open to the concept of “deconstruct to reconstruct?”  If at the end of the day, renovating seems insurmountable, then new construction is still an option.

I walk through old homes with my clients (typically before they purchase) to assess what condition the home is in.  Are there areas to be saved?  Will the newly remodeled home be what the client is expecting?  Does it make sense?

We recently transformed a ranch for a couple looking to downsize from a very large 2 story but wanted to stay in the area.  When finished the home was nearly completely rebuilt, updated, and enlarged to give them the space they desired, where they desired!

As always, the success of this project was rooted in a great client and a great old home that served as my canvas.

For additional information on what to consider for your home project: Listen to this informational video or  Download this Project Planning Guide.

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