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Over the years, what you want in a home and what your family wants have probably changed a lot. The house that worked when you first bought it is not working so well any more even if you loved it way back when. But on the other hand, maybe a few fixes can change things so you can enjoy your home again.

Here are some questions and issues to consider before making a decision that can help you arrive at a solution. And many of them as you will note involve whether remodeling or moving is more affordable:

1 | Do you still like the location of your current house?

You don’t like the layout of local streets anymore. Perhaps traffic patterns have changed or it’s gotten noisier. So maybe you are thinking about trying a new environment in another part of town.

But if you like where you are and you decide to stay, you can avoid many hassles and expenses involved in moving. There are transaction costs involved in selling and buying – everything from a commission for the Realtor to fees for taking out a new mortgage to paying a mover. Factors you like about your current location may include: family and friends nearby, how close you are to churches and schools, parks, cultural centers, shopping and health care. Getting out to the “country” might be too quiet and inconvenient.

2 | What’s right or wrong with the size and features of your current house?

Maybe your house doesn’t seem big enough. After all, times have changed and houses being built now are very different from older homes. According to the U.S. Census, single family homes built in 2015 in the United States had a median square footage of 2,467 square feet. The floor space has been rising steadily since 1973 when the size of a newly built home was 1,525 square feet.

Other things have changed as well. Back in 1973 only about 25 percent of new homes had four bedrooms; today almost half of them do. In 1973, 40 percent of homes had one and a half baths or less while now, almost 40 percent have three or more baths.

3 | So should you buy a new home or just remodel the old home?

If you decide to move, you can buy a newly built house for as little as $100 to $200 a square foot while a bigger custom-built new home might run from $500 to $600 a square foot. You can pay much more than that, too, depending on location and what you want in your house.

If you really need the extra space, you can enlarge your present house for from $250 to $700 a square foot. Adding bathrooms or extra bedrooms can be fairly expensive remodeling jobs. According to Remodeling magazine’s annual cost-value report for 2016, it can cost from about $40,000 to $77,000 to add a new bathroom in the Phoenix area and about $112,000 to $239,000 to add a new master bedroom addition with bath. Getting all that work done also means a couple months or more of noisy and dusty renovations.

But don’t forget that buying a new house may mean a new, bigger mortgage plus expenses for decorating, furnishing and landscaping your new place.

4 | As your home gets older, will you need expensive replacements as well as maintenance spending?

Maybe you need a $20,000 roof redo or a new $10,000 air conditioner. Or perhaps you think you need to spiff up the kitchen with new appliances. Your yard, the paint job on your house and your old flooring may also be areas that need some work. So it might be great to get a fresh start with a brand-new house.

However, if you don’t make those improvements in the old house, you may have trouble persuading someone else to buy it. Or you might have to cut the price of the old house.

5 | As you get older, are you thinking of moving because you want to downsize and live in a home that’s easier to maintain and where it will be more possible for you to age-in-place?

Most important of all, you probably want to leave a two-story home behind for a one-story model.

You may want a shower with a curb-less entry and a slab bench and a bathroom with more grab bars. In the kitchen you may need a cook-top with front-mounted controls and changes in the height of cabinets. As you age, you also want to install more lighting power in your home. Doors and doorways may need to be wider and floors may need texturing for safety’s sake. The list of changes goes on and on. Some changes may be difficult to make. You can’t enlarge hallways, for example, if you can’t move or remove load-bearing walls.

But you’re probably asking yourself if you can really find what you want in a new location. It is possible that when you move you will even be paying to build many aging-in-place features into the new living space.

As you go through this list, take notes about your current house and issues that affect your situation. Think about any remodeling changes you might want to make and keep your ideas in mind in visiting possible new homes.


Photo Credit:

  • Interior view of remodel: BC Renovations
  • Arcadia Neighborhood: Rosie on the House Remodeling


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