Facelift, Renovate or Teardown?

You’ve been in your home for a few years and something doesn’t feel right. The kitchen has shrunk, the pink bathroom tile feels dated and the wall colors are faded. Or if you’re like most people you’ve had better intentions from the day you unpacked. But somehow you never quite got around to realizing your home’s potential.

But when you finally summon the motivation to take action, the question still remains: facelift, renovate or teardown? Most people think about budget first. What can I afford? But there are deeper considerations to ponder. I’ll take a few moments here to help guide your decision with the assumption that you didn’t yet win the lottery.

Facelift for resale – Renovate to enjoy – Teardown if obsolete

Let’s begin with the facelift. Just like the surgeon’s knife, a nip / tuck here and there are exactly what you should do if your space needs a fresh look. This often occurs when you’re ready to move and your real estate agent hints around that something’s not right. A new coat of paint, some editing of the clutter and general cleaning can create a much better impression. Replace anything that is broken or damaged too. Every house that has been lived in has a list of items that if fixed, cleaned or changed can dramatically improve the resale price. And most of this can be accomplished in a weekend. Usually for a few hundred dollars you can return many multiples of that on the sale price.

Then there’s renovation. Although this can involve some minor demolition, for the most part you’ll be replacing lighting, a sink and cabinet or installing new flooring. Some renovations pay off (kitchen or bath) and others don’t (home office or finished basement). You also have to be aware of your home in relation to your neighborhood and not over do it. And even for a great renovation, you might not get your full investment back. So on average, the best reason to renovate your home is for your enjoyment. Most renovations take several weeks to several months. Endure the renovation pain and you’ll enjoy the improvements for the remainder stay.

Teardowns require some fortitude. A teardown can be as serious as razing your entire property or simply gutting a space when obsolescence exists. Antiquated plumbing and wiring, lack of proper insulation or significant structural deficiencies are all good reasons to pursue this path. And when adding a second floor or new addition, teardown is a necessity as well as an opportunity to make major improvements. This significant investment can last up to a year or more and is even more hit or miss on the return on investment. The best reason for teardowns is if you plan on staying for many more years and your home is not yielding the space or functionality you really need.

The average number of years you’ll own your home is about 7. People change jobs, cities, upgrade and downgrade. The days of keeping a 30 year mortgage for 30 years are long past us. So if you’ve already lived in your house for a while, it is probably best not to spend too much as it will only benefit the next owner. But if you’re just starting out you have a lot more opportunity. Of course, in any home situation there are many more variables to be considered.

Hiring a professional to help guide you through the decision process is probably a wise decision. Real estate agents are great at spotting simple improvements that can get you top dollar. Contractors can help you understand major construction tradeoffs. And of course an interior designer should be able to help you over the full spectrum with particularly emphasis on designing to suit your specific needs.

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2 Responses to Facelift, Renovate or Teardown?

  1. Jeni Quigg says:

    very helpful! I like

  2. David says:

    Thanks Jeni – it is always a hard decision as to what to do. Usually before any decisions are made, an designer can be employed as a consultant to guide one through the evaluation process. Just like there are people who help you with investments or other life decisions, designers help navigate through unfamiliar processes. And in many cases, I’ve recommended to clients not to do anything – either their budget or time frame doesn’t support their desires. Sometimes it is just better to save for the next place.

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