Many of my customers considered moving before they decided to remodel. Their motives varied from an expanding family to a desire for an upgraded interior. Naturally I am biased on this question—I wish everyone would remodel their home!—but here some of the things to think about when you are deciding whether to remodel or move.
The first is the old maxim about what is important in real estate: location, location, location. One thing you will find it tough to get in a new home is an equivalent neighborhood (unless you buy the house across the street!). Whether you are “best friends” with all your neighbors, see them once a year at a block party or only know them well enough to wave, there is something to be said for the fact that you know the character of your neighborhood.
Now maybe your neighborhood isn’t all you want it to be. If the neighborhood isn’t meeting your needs, no amount of remodeling will fix the problem.
Let’s say the neighborhood is fine, but your house isn’t. If your family is expanding, more bedrooms (and likely bathrooms) will be needed. If you are planning to start working from home, space may be needed for an office. Sometimes the kitchen/dining area isn’t adequate for the family’s entertaining needs. All these are reasons you might be thinking about moving, and all of these are problems that can be remedied by remodeling.
Adding a bedroom and bathroom to the ground floor of your home is typically a relatively easy project with a tremendous upside. Aside from accommodating that new family member or office, increasing the size of your home can increase its value down the road at resale time. Depending on how long you intend to live in the home, and what the real estate market does, you could recoup almost all of the remodeling investment.
If you have been looking at new homes you could be attracted by the “great rooms” or large combination family/dining rooms many of them offer. Chances are if you are living in central San Diego, your home was built before these rooms came into fashion, so your floor plan doesn’t include a large open room like this, just a standard size living room.
You might think your lot isn’t large enough to add a room like this to your home. While you could be right about adding to the “footprint” of your home, have you thought about removing some of the kitchen walls and changing up its layout to create a great room? This is a project we've successfully completed in any number of Clairemont/Bay Park homes.
For some people, the idea of experiencing a remodeling project is so scary that moving looks easier. Their fears are that they will be ripped off by the contractor, that the job will drag on for years and/or cost many thousands more than expected. These fears aren’t entirely without some foundation in reality. If you think you have heard a lot of construction horror stories from friends and neighbors, imagine how many I hear!
Moving can be just as much of a nightmare as a remodeling job gone bad. Items get lost and damaged in transit, the new house can have problems you didn’t find in the inspection, and you may end up with a neighbor you don’t care for. In addition, your kids may be unhappy at having to leave friends and schools behind—and since I am a parent I can testify to just how unpleasant it can be to have an unhappy kid around the house!
What I tell people is this: contractors are like mechanics, or doctors, or any other professional. There are good ones and bad, honest ones and crooks. Your job as a consumer is to do your homework before committing to hiring someone. If you do nothing else, check references!
The best way I know to make a decision like this is to do the research, make the list of pros and cons for each course of action, and talk it over with your family. Personally, I hope you will decide to remodel—either the house you are in now, or the one you move to!