3 Things To Consider Before Tearing Down A HouseIf you have always dreamt of building a home and filling it with your own personal touches, then gutting or tearing down a house completely to the ground might be the option for you. The beauty of tearing down a home to rebuild is that you can choose solely based on location alone and the property that comes with the home. You don’t have to worry about certain fixes the previous owner had installed or the ugly carpet that is dirty with years of wear and tear. You are going to fix all of that with a nice big excavator that will essentially put a hole in the roof and rip the whole thing to shreds within a few minutes.

Before you decide to renovate or move forward with tearing down a house, think about it: You can hook a dilapidated home that is in a really good neighborhood for much lower than market value and then build a brand-new home that is worthy of that nice neighborhood. In the process, you will most likely double your property value, and to boot you get a brand-new house where a neglected one once stood. If you are still a little weary about whether or not a gut job is the right option for you, here are three things to consider before you go through with your plans.

  1. Is the house worth salvaging?

Consulting with a building professional about whether or not a home you are interested in purchasing is a total tear down or gut job would be a great first step. If the home you are looking at is in a historic district, there may be limitations as to what you can do to the home, which may prevent you from demolishing it and building a new one. Contact the building department within the city the home is located in for that kind of information if it’s important to your decision. In addition to this, there may be deed restrictions that could limit or completely negate any building plans you had in mind for the property. Crunch the numbers. Figure out what you should pay for the home and the lot, and decide if that amount on top of a completely new build is something you want. Or if you can use pieces of the old house and build on from there without completely tearing down the entire structure and beginning a new. This should be based on a thorough assessment of the home. Be on point and honest with yourself about the estimate you calculate. It should include big-ticket items like labor and materials. Then subtract that number from the home’s potential market value after the renovation or rebuild in comparison with current real estate prices in the area. Lastly, deduct another five to ten percent for any extra luxuries you decide to add or any unforeseen problems that arise (this is mostly known as a contingency plan or budget). What’s left is probably the best offer you should make. It’s also of extreme importance that your contract, should you go through with purchasing a home or lot, should include an inspection clause. The inspection could confirm that the house is in good enough shape or help you back out of a deal. Perhaps the home is backed to an environmentally protected area, but you thought you could add onto that land. These scenarios could happen, so it’s important to do all the research. You should also check the zoning for the area around your property to make sure you won’t be buying land right next to commercial property where anything could be built. That could potentially drop the value of your home due to the location. An inspector will also document serious problems with the home, which could end up making the decision for you to just completely start over with a brand-new build. Major repairs that could cost you thousands of dollars could ultimately be put toward a brand-new home with new equipment, leaving little worry of future problems arising.

  1. How do I decide between a renovation and a teardown?

There are a few key factors to this kind of decision, and most of them depend upon a personal preference and whether or not you are willing to see the project from beginning to end. Viewing the current condition of the house is just as important as your personal preferences. Older homes can contain a lot of problems that make them money pits for renovators. Things like large infestations of mold, pests, extensive water damage, and foundation or roof damage are major factors to consider. Some older homes also have layouts that are difficult to re-arrange for modern usage or components that need to be repaired can all add up to a significant cost. You have to have to decide what you want out of a new home. Do you want something energy efficient including new windows, doors, and kitchen appliances that could save you money in the long run? Do you want a home that has a specific layout like an open floor plan? Do you understand how to tear down a house?  If not, do you have professionals like architects or builders who can guide you? It all depends on your budget and if you can get what you want with the finances you have. You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin. If you can get what you want at a reasonable price, then a renovation may make sense. If you like the location but the house just has too much repairs, go with a teardown and build from the ground up. But always remember inspections. Get a professional who can give you their honest opinion about a home and the problems it might possess.

  1. Financing. Where will your budget go?

If you decide that a teardown and rebuild is the best option for you, be sure to run the numbers of what this will cost you. First, you need an inspection of the home and the land. You will also need to acquire permits for the demolition and most likely anything else you plan to do after that. You will need to contact utility companies for gas, electric, and water to disconnect the house you plan to demolish. This ensures for a safe demolition. If you want a unique way of demolishing your home with little cost, you can contact your local fire department to see if they want to use the house for training. They will take your house down for free just for allowing them to use it as a training base. This means you won’t need special equipment to come in and tear things down—the fire will take care of it all and the only thing you have to pay for is to have the debris removed. If you decide to do a complete demolition but want to leave the existing foundation or basement of a home, expect to pay between $6 to $12 per square foot in New Jersey, or higher if it’s a tricky location or situation. Completely demolishing a house as well as the current foundation will cost you a bit more, but could allow you to create a larger home with a bigger footprint. Pay special attention to environmental issues like lead-based paint, asbestos, oil tanks, and septic systems as these can increase the cost drastically. Keep in mind that everything in the home will have to be brought up to code. New codes are created every year, and certain things become stricter as time goes on. You may need multiple inspections from your town to finish varying stages of your project to ensure that all the work being done is up to code standards. Things like electrical and plumbing also have strict codes that must be met in order for a project to continue with its projected timeline. Whichever you decide to do, it’s important that you flush out all choices you have and then choose the one that best suits you and your family. Then maintain your budget to the best of your ability so that your project can be completed no matter which choice you decide: renovation or teardown. 

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