Reverse Engineering Your Home Teardown

photography by Lisa Russman

Something we like to say when you plan your dream home is “to be clear is to be kind” and while we didn’t make that up it couldn’t be a more true statement for our clients who start with a teardown. The best way to honor your vision is to be as clear and vivid as you can so your team can bring that vision you have in your mind to life. Normally, you’d start at the beginning of a project, but in this case, we’ll show you how to start with the end in mind to save time and money on your build.

After decades of building homes with busy and growing families, the first suggestion we can make is to go with a bigger footprint. I’ve honestly never had a client come back and complain that they had too many square feet. Most families saved money by just executing that big design they originally hoped for instead of planning to add-on later. It’s OK to be honest with yourself that you need the room so your architect can give you a drawing that fits the mold.

Spend one entire day with your team selecting your “finishes”. Schedule phone or in-person meetings with your construction and design team to choose flooring, countertops, cabinets, hardware, appliances, etc. Make up your mind early in the process and do your best to stick with your choices – so be honest with yourself and choose the finishes that your family wants for this dream build. Selecting early means you have time to find loans, or make payments towards the materials, it means no delays in receiving the products which saves you money and time on your overall project. You can also find wholesalers or retailers that may have exactly the products you need on clearance saving you potentially thousands of dollars! Even choosing your furniture in advance means you can obtain major savings by having the time to wait for a sale.

Do your research on tax credits and local permits when you purchase your teardown property. Utilizing energy-efficient windows for example could qualify you for a credit. Just by buying a home, you may qualify for a credit back! Additionally, understanding what permits are required for your teardown and your build means you can make decisions that may allow you to avoid needing certain permits. For example, a specific amount of square footage may require an additional permit, if you stay right under it though, you could avoid paying another hefty permit fee. Being honest with yourself and your team about what you need and what the budget is, will expedite your dream home build!

And of course, taking the time to determine how to execute your teardown before you begin (mechanically or manually) will allow your team to get it done swiftly. You may have found incredible original molding you want to keep, your foundation could be in excellent shape, maybe there’s even furniture you want to restore – all of this should be decided on right away. Your team can procure proper machinery, permitting, and have an appropriate team for the job thanks to early decision making.

The common theme is – be honest and clear with yourself first. It’s OK to want the maple floors and vaulted ceilings. Plan for the finishes, the permits, the budget, and the timeline as much as you can by making decisions you feel excited about right away. Get those plans on paper and only choose a team that you believe can bring your vision to life. We do our best work with families who know what they want and need for their dream home.

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