Move or Renovate?

You have decided that your home feels cramped and you need more space. You also want a better kitchen and you've had it with the lilac bathroom fixtures which are nearly four decades old and showing it.

Still, you love your garden and your home's location. The school is nearby and your kids have their friends in the neighbourhood. It's a real dilemma. Do you but another home, or do you renovate?

Not so many years ago, people generally sold a house when they became tired of it or found it no longer suited their lifestyle. But today, with construction and land costs so high, more and more people are taking a look at their existing home and deciding to transform it into the home of their dreams. By renovating, they get a different house without ever changing their address.

To move or renovate - what's right for you?

Begin by considering how you feel about your current home's location. Does it meet your needs? Can you picture yourself continuing to live there for many more years?

Once you have decided you want to stay in the area, look for homes in your neighbourhood that are larger or have already been renovated. Would any of these suit the lifestyle you now want? If so, what are they worth and how do they compare to your home's current value. Your best help in this area will come from a local REALTOR.

Once you have a rough idea of what it will cost to purchase the kind of home you want and what your current house is worth, you will have an idea of what it will cost you to move. Don't forget to include real estate, legal and other fees for selling and buying, as well as moving expenses, when you are comparing the costs of renovating and moving.

You may find there is no significant difference between the cost of renovating and the cost of selling and buyer a larger, already remodeled home in the same neighbourhood.

Renovating has a lot of advantages. You avoid the stress and inconvenience of moving, especially if it's to a different neighbourhood. You get to remodel your home the way you want it, not the way someone else has chosen. You get to choose the materials and colours that suit you. And you have the advantage of renovating as much or as little as you want.

Remodeling has its share of disadvantages as well. You have to chose the right contractor. If you make a bad choice, the result could turn a dream into a nightmare. Ask friends, colleagues and relatives to recommend names. Knock on the door of a renovation project you like and ask about the contractor. Get at least three to submit estimates.

Once a renovation is underway, be prepared for some inconveniences. If the project is extensive, you may have to move out of your home for several weeks until much of the major work is completed. Also be prepared for extra costs. If you decide you would rather have hardwood flooring instead of the vinyl you were originally quoted on, be prepared to pay more money.

The total renovation cost is a big factor in deciding whether to go ahead or sell and buy elsewhere. Renovation prices vary considerably, so do your homework. In making your decision, be sure to consider the kind of renovation you require. A second-storey addition, for instance, will cost less per square foot than a rear addition which requires a foundation. Renovations to the actual house can also be quite costly per square foot; that's because you have to consider the cost of taking the house apart, disposing of materials and installing new parts and materials.

Despite the inconveniences, renovation can be a worthwhile project, especially if it gives you the house you want at the price you can afford.




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