Friday, June 17, 2011

Renovating vs. Demolition/new build (part 2)

Renovating vs. Demolition/new build
Part 2     Looking at the benefits of demolishing an older house and building a brand new one
It’s easy to think that fixing an older house is cheaper then demolishing it and building a new house. That is true but only to a certain point. A lot of older houses that are extensively renovated can end up costing you more money, especially in the long run.
Most older homes that get renovated, end up being renovated more than once. Even doing a whole house renovation usually leads to contractors coming back at a later date to replace or improve different things in the house because you’re making new things work with existing older things in the house. An example of this is when you are redoing the bathrooms in your house a plumber will replace a lot of the plumbing that is close to the bathrooms, but will usually not replace all the plumbing right back to where the water service comes in to the house. So after installing all of this new plumbing equipment in the house the plumber has to come back and do costly repairs to the existing plumbing because it has been over loaded by the new plumbing fixtures. This is not a warranty issue because the plumber never touched those plumbing lines. Another example of this is the electrical. In most renovations the electricians are not able to replace every wire in the house, they replace as much as they can but in older houses with custom stucco ceilings you don’t want them tearing holes in them. So there end up being wires in your home that are old and may not be able to support new modern electrical needs.
When talking about warranty’s renovating an older home can be a nightmare for getting things warranted.  Because a lot of the time the problem is not with what was replaced but what still exists. New homes come with what is called the Tarion New Home Warranty, which is federally insured program that your builder pays for and registers you into that is good for the first 7 years that you own the house.
Another large problem is that when you add new furnaces and hrv’s in older houses that never had them, you can get shrinkage in the wall studs, this is especially bad in the stairwells. So this will cause drywall pops and drywall cupping even in newly installed drywall. This means that after a period of time you would have to bring the drywallers and painters back to do some costly repairs.
With new houses they all have to be done to a certain building code that is monitored by the local governments. Older houses were not built too today’s standards, which can cause some problems when trying to get permits to renovate older houses. Also certain things like fireplaces and electrical you will be forced to replace or fix because of the licences and the insurance that the contractors have. Also insurance companies when coming and doing a reassessment on the property will force home owners to do certain things to qualify for their insurance. This is especially serious when it comes to fireplaces.
With rising energy costs the norm these days, spending a little extra money to build a new energy efficient house instead of trying to bring an older house up to those standards will save you money for the length of time that you own your house. This can really add up with the new technology that is coming out for new houses.
Renovating an older house gives you a renovated old house. So the old foundation is still old, the roof is still old and will probably need to be repaired in the future. They are old to start with and will not last forever so there is a risk in doing a lot of work near and around them.
Old foundations can be difficult to tie into if you are putting an addition on and can also restrict what you can do with the addition, as in you might not be able to put a full basement in an addition depending on the basement in the existing older house.
The best thing that you can do when deciding where to renovate or build new is to work with a contractor that you trust. They should be able to tell you by inspecting the existing property if it’s better to renovate it or tear it down.
If you’re thinking about this and want to talk to a professional contractor feel free to drop me an email at or call me at 705 466-3202.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.


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