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Build or Remodel

By John McCue

Many potential homebuyers ask themselves whether they should build a new home or remodel an existing home. Although most buyers would love to build a new home, after learning about the time and expense involved, they consider updating and remodeling a home as an affordable alternative. There are many things to think about regardless of which course you choose.

    1. Proper planning and research will have a major effect in determining which route is best for you. Everyone is different. Building isn’t for everyone, nor is remodeling. One of the initial steps is to establish a realistic budget. You should contact a mortgage lender and get pre-qualified for whatever you want to do. Whether it’s a home equity credit line for remodeling or a mortgage for a new or existing home, knowing what your financial capabilities are will help you set realistic goals, save time, and avoid potential disappointment if you set goals that you can’t afford. Once you know your financial capabilities, you are ready to start planning for what you want to do.
    1. There many things to consider in the planning stage. One significant item is whether you are the sole decision maker or will a significant other be involved. If there is a significant other, do you communicate well and make decisions together easily? If decisions are difficult, it could have a serious effect on the success of your project, or whether you can even pursue a buying or remodeling project.
    1. If you are contemplating remodeling your existing home or buying an existing home and remodeling it, here are a few tips to consider.

• Do you plan to stay in the home for a long time – 5 years or more?
• Will the remodeling project satisfy your needs?
• Develop an idea of what you want or need to do. Look at magazines and websites to gather ideas to help convey your ideas to your contractor.
• If you are “handy” and plan to do the work yourself, do you have enough time and resources to realistically complete it? This can be particularly difficult and frustrating if you are living in the home while you are doing the work. Typically, most remodeling projects cost a lot more than expected and take far longer to complete than originally expected.
• If you plan to hire a contractor for your project, select a reputable contractor with a permanent address. Ask how long they have been in business and for past customer references. Contact those references and discuss their experience with the contractor.
• Beware of low bids and prices that seem “too good to be true.” You get what you pay for. Get all estimates in writing and be sure you understand what is included and what is not included. It always costs less in the long run to do it right the first time.
• Is the contractor experienced in the type of work you want to do?
• Contact your local Better Business Bureau to see if the contractor is a member. The BBB can alert you to any complaints.
Once you have completed your planning and research, and have selected your contractor, your remodeling project is ready to start. For those who have done their homework, the project is exciting and fun, and the end result will make your home more comfortable and convenient, and make you happy to be living there.
The alternative to remodeling or buying an existing home is building a new home. Most homebuyers would love to buy or build a new home but often think it will be too expensive or take too long to complete. Plus, they will need to be involved with all of the decisions and choices that need to be made. Building a new home should be one of life’s most exciting rewards and it will be if you plan properly. There are many benefits to building a new home.
If you look at new neighborhoods where a lot of homes are being built, they are generally located in areas convenient to schools, shopping and churches. Everything is new and under warranty for a period of time so you won’t be facing unexpected repairs during the early years. Building a new home is an opportunity to do it your way with regard to design, amenities and color selections. A new home today usually costs more than a similarly-sized existing home. However, in the long run, investing more in a new home often ends up being less than the cost of the comparable existing home that requires costly repairs, replacement and remodeling expenses. Homes built today are far more energy efficient and require far less maintenance and upkeep than existing older homes. Most all of the tips mentioned earlier for remodeling also apply to building or buying a new home, but here are a few more to consider.
• Are you patient? It takes several months to properly plan and build a new home.
• When you build, you are buying a service rather than a product. The quality of service the builder provides will determine the quality of the finished product and your satisfaction with the result.
• What type of home are you looking for? A production home with set plans and options with little or no flexibility or a custom home with lots of choices, options and flexibility? Look for builders who specialize in the type of homebuilding you are looking for.
• Do you feel comfortable communicating with the builder? Remember you will be in close contact with them throughout the construction process and afterward as you live in your new home.
• Ask for and receive a copy of their warranty and service policy.

Whether you choose building or remodeling, do your homework and plan properly, and you are sure to enjoy the benefits of your project for many years to come.
Build or Remodel

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