Building vs. Remodeling a House: Which Is Better in 2023?

It’s rare for homeowners to purchase a house that ticks everything on their checklist. Either you have to construct the perfect home from scratch or remodel your present one. Both home renovation vs. new construction require financial means and have their pros and cons, so let’s examine how they compare.

Building vs. Remodeling — What Do I Need?

Building vs. Home Remodeling

The option to remodel your home depends on its structural integrity and area regulations. Understanding your circumstances empowers you to make the right decisions that suit your living needs. Below are four considerations:

Is Your Home Old?

If you have a heritage home or one with high-quality wood and retro or vintage finishes, you may want to remodel. Solid doors, crown molding, arched doorways, and ornate window frames can be challenging to replicate. However, if any of these fixtures are in bad shape, or your old home is worse-for-fear and not a heritage site, then rebuilding may be better.

Does Your Location Have Restrictive Regulations?

Some areas have tough regulations, where getting the legal demolition go-ahead takes longer than the renovating approval process. Additionally, houses on a state’s heritage territory are stringently protected and need to pass an examination before renovations take place —  if they can at all. In this case, demolition would be out of the question.

Is It Structurally Sound?

Homes with unstable foundations are unsafe. Skew walls, water in the basement, and difficulty opening windows are common signs of a compromised foundation. When in doubt, a structural engineer can provide an assessment. If your home’s foundation is irreparable, you should rather rebuild.

Does Your House Have Water Damage?

When it comes to a remodel vs. build, you won’t have an option if the water damage in your home is beyond repair. Water damage to walls and wooden structures will need to be removed and replaced. If the damage is severe, it might not be worthwhile keeping the house.

Building The New House

Building The New House Pros and Cons

Depending on zoning classification and site, building a home takes, on average, anywhere between six and twelve months. Time and cost are key considerations, as you will likely need another place to stay while construction takes place.

Cost of Building a New House

The average cost to build a house in Iowa is between $500,000–$600,000. Naturally, this price depends on aesthetic preferences, demand for labor, and materials. Of all factors, location is the most significant.

Duration of Building

Building a house will take longer than a home renovation project because the land has to be excavated, graded, and compacted before construction commences. Once the foundations are laid, the superstructure is built, followed by the roof and then exterior and interior fittings. Everything has to be created from scratch, which can take many months.

Pros of Building a New House

While building a home might take a few months, there are several enticing benefits:

  • There’s no transfer duty, so homeowners save on these costs and legal processes associated with purchasing another house.
  • Homes are built to the owner’s exact specifications, including interior design, so they don’t have to compromise on anything.
  • Because everything is new and under warranty, repair and breakages should be minimal.
  • Building materials are more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
  • Houses can be built to accommodate smart living.

Cons of Building a New House

Despite customization benefits, building a home vs. renovating has potential downsides too.

  • Existing houses are usually in more desirable locations, closer to metropolitan hubs. Therefore, finding a plot of land in a decent area may be challenging.
  • When building from scratch, landscaping costs, which exclude the cost of the house, need to be factored in.
  • There’s usually limited negotiation in the price. While designers and contractors can provide cheaper alternatives to a limited degree, building cheaply may cost more in the long run.

House Renovation

House Renovation Pros and Cons

Renovation costs vs. new construction are cheaper if it’s just one of two rooms, it is less disruptive as homeowners don’t have to uproot their lives, and it adds value to the existing property.

Cost of House Renovation

When renovating a home, the owner is responsible for complying with FDA regulations. In most cases, existing features can be integrated into the new house design. However, if there are hidden structural issues or the discovery of toxic building materials, costs may be higher than anticipated, and the project timeline might have to be extended.

Duration of Remodeling

Unless you’re renovating a heritage site, a remodel usually goes quicker because construction teams have less work to do. Homeowners that plan to stay while renovating happens will need to develop a multiphase schedule to limit disruption; otherwise, they will need to arrange temporary housing, which can be expensive.

Pros of House Remodeling

A remodeling vs. building comes with multiple benefits, including improving the comfort and utility of an existing house.

  • Families don’t have to disrupt their lives by relocating to another home.
  • Additional living spaces in basements and attics, as well as larger bathrooms and kitchens, increase a home's resale value.
  • Home remodeling provides the opportunity to make a house more energy efficient.
  • A remodel increases living space, and depending on the renovation, may include additional quarters to lease to tenants.
  • When a home is outdated or shabby, a remodel can provide a much-needed facelift.

Cons of House Renovation

Renovating a home vs. building new has a few disadvantages, mainly that it still might not be the exact house of your dreams, including these inconveniences:

  • Surprises such as structural issues or building toxins can delay building timelines and prices.
  • If homeowners require a bank loan, it can be difficult to get approval if they haven’t lived in their house for a long time,
  • Renovation projects seldom return a 100% return on investment
  • They can be disruptive to families if they’re staying in the house during remodeling

Don’t Know Which to Choose? We Can Help With Both!

There are pros and cons to a remodel vs. building a new house. The choice inevitably boils down to budget and preference. At Zenith Design + Build, we can do both. Whether you’re renovating or building a custom home, we combine high-quality workmanship with beautiful aesthetics. Contact us today and find out more about our work!


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