New build versus Tear-down

mtnrdredux_gwOctober 16, 2012

I am looking at bidding on a vacation property that needs extensive renovation. I am trying to decide if it will be cheaper to tear down or to renovate. My end goal is a sound, relatively efficient house. I want something simple and humble in a farmhouse vernacular. Eg, I want an unfitted kitchen an linoleum floors. No fancy finishes, but no junk.

Here are the considerations that I think favor a tear-down:

1. All of the windows need to be replaced (and not just within pop-in replacements). The new windows have to be Zone3 for hurricane risk.

2. Most of the interior walls are homasote, which has to be removed to add insulation and replaced with sheetrock.

3. The kitchen and bathrooms I would want to be gutted.

4. A portion of an old addition is in bad repair and will have to be torn down in any event. The basement footprint of this addition is 14x24, but the only structure right now is a walk-out basement, and a bathroom and deck on the first floor. We would remove this structure and rebuild in the 14x24 area, a full three stories (the first story being the walk-out portion of the basement)

5. The cedar shake is painted and I prefer it to be natural. So I would want to reside the whole thing

6. The home has a gambrel roof. I would prefer to remove the roof, build up the walls, and have a gable roof.

7. I would rather move the stairs but could live with them where they are.

8. Given the scope of the renovations we will want to do, I assume we will need to bring every facet of the existing structure up to code. Seeing as how it was built in the 1920s, I think that is a de facto total rebuild.

Wow, sounds like a great property, huh?

Here are the factors in favor of renovating:

1. The buildable footprint is three stories, 44x30. I might be able to expand that but it would be a PITA to get approvals. If I were to teardown, I would probably keep the same footprint and location.

2. The building is a rectangle and I want a rectangle

3. It costs 12cents per pound just to dispose of demo debris

4. The permitting process will take longer

5 The floors on the first and second floor are wood and in nice condition. I would reuse them. If i have to patch them as we move walls, etc, I don't see a huge issue because Id like them painted anyway.

6. I dont like being "wasteful" if i can avoid it.

7. I can envision a totally acceptable plan where the old house gets new and more windows, new sheetrock, siding and roof, a few internal walls moved, and then we put on a new addition.

Thoughts? Other things to consider?

Thanks in advance.

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I'm sorry, this post should have been titled "tear down" vs "renovate"

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 3:40PM
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I'll be interested in what some of the builders have to say, but from my architectural experience and your list, I'd say a complete gutting is what you are looking at, plus a number of renovation/new construction, ie, roof change out, new siding and the removal/rebuilt of the addition that's in bad repair.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:18PM
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You did not mention that this house is located in an area with historical value or the house have some character or good bones.
You might end up spending about the same if you go either way. I'd tear it down.
You will have something efficient, up to code and the way you like it.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:23PM
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Thanks, Virgil. I am talking to builders and architects and they seem to think I should not tear it down, but based on experience with my primary home I have learned to be wary.

I like older homes and my first inclination was renovate. But when I thought it through, this old home no longer has much old in it; kitchens and bathrooms are probably 1970s. Trim, railings, banisters, nothing special. The only nice older detailing is in the living room, a wood ceiling and floor and trim. But to be honest, Id rather have painted wood (I know that is anathema to some) in a beach house anyway.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:30PM
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I can understand that you do no not want to be wasteful but this is a big investment and it looks like tearing down and building new is the smart thing to do and also a better business decision.
You can give the new house the character you like.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:49PM
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Out with the Old....

(But, then, you knew I'd say that.)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 5:28PM
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LOL Worthy.

You know, I reread Virgil's answer. I can't tell ... is that a teardown or renovate vote?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 5:39PM
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Worthy is my hero.

Speaking from experience, I say, "Tear it down!"

Here is a link that might be useful: Taking Worthy's advice

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 7:11PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Teardown will be cheaper, and you'll end up with a much better result. If this were a historic home or an example of unique architecture, the answer might be different---as long as you were OK with paying a LOT more money for the "restoration" that would go along with such a home. You're buying the real estate here, not the shack on the real estate. Don't feel guilty about not preserving something not really worth preserving.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 7:25PM
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It will all depend on builder. Because builder could make it expansive or cheap. Do not pay $100/sq ft!

Is your foundation good, does it need waterproofing, drainage tile, sump? We are in the similar situation our house got severely damaged by tornado, policy has code upgrades, etc. However nasty insurance company determined to cheat us on every corner. They know with severe damage most would not want flooded house, so they would write bad checks that does not include estimate, causing bank to withhold payment; they refusing to pay for flooded fireplace, refused to pay for 3" moldings, stain grade, stain doors, baseboards, damaged sheathing, 12" wavy cedar siding, flooded water heater, furnace, etc etc etc. And this is one of the largest insurer on the deluxe policy.

What I learned cost of structure removal is 2,3,4 rule: 2 * sq ft first floor + 3 * sq ft second floor + 4 * third floor. Permitting in my area $800. Staking lot is $600, excavation is $1.10 * sq ft ( for 8' or 9' basement ). Dumpster 2 x xxx.

To be honest cost of renovation seems much higher to me than new construction, and idea of avoiding led + asbestos + mold sound pretty good to me. However custom builders in my area suck. Right now prices of plywood and drywall doubled, drywall already came down, however plywood still pricy. It will fall in the next few month.

DO your math and research. Call building department, call utilities. See what those costs are. Is your house well flows, in addition I can offer you an advice. If you renovate cost of the house stays nearly the same, if you build ...

If your house gets damaged by hurricane: insurance will depreciate nearly everything to the year house was built. Believe me. And it could be 50% - 66% - 77% of actual cash value.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 7:31PM
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Pay Worthy for hour's time on his demolisher machine. Shouldn't take much more than that!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 7:40PM
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