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— Should I Move or Remodel? —

Is Your Home Worth Remodeling?

Aside from immediate costs, you need to consider your neighborhood. Do you like your current location? Are your neighbors the kind of people you’ll want to be living around in ten years? Are property values and the general environment improving in your area?

If you answer no to any of these questions, you may want to buy used and remodel, build new, or buy new. But, if all your answers are yes, remodeling, adding on, or building up are great options to explore.

Buy New?

Cheaper Isn't Always Better. Due to consumers' desire to get more space for less money, new home builders are forced to cut costs any way they can. With land prices skyrocketing, one way is to build larger houses on smaller pieces of land, which makes for very crowded neighborhoods and not much privacy.

Of course the other main way to cut costs is to provide fewer amenities of lower quality. These things may not make much difference when you're just walking through a new home, but you'll notice them more and more the longer you live there. If you're constantly having to replace or repair deteriorating elements of your house, you may wind up questioning the wisdom of giving cost per square foot too much weight in your investment decision.

While you always have a choice of which new home to buy, you usually end up adjusting your lifestyle to your home's design. For many new home buyers this is not a problem, but you should spend a great deal of time thinking about how you would use the space in your new home. Will you ever really use that huge formal living room and entry hall? Is the kitchen laid out right for your style of cooking? Are the double sinks in the master bath really going to work out with your daily routine? Adequate thought given to such things beforehand can prevent growing disappointment a few years down the road.

Location isn't everything, but it is very important. Most new housing communities are some distance from established schools, shopping centers, community centers and places of employment. Though such facilities are often in the plans of the new community, it may be years before they are in place and easy to use. You'll have more time to spend in your new home if it's well-situated for your shopping, school and work needs.

Build New? A Dream Come True?

Especially if you've been living in a house that really doesn't suit your needs, the idea of having one built to your exact specifications can be very appealing. And, if you have the wherewithal, it can be an exciting adventure. But don't be lulled into overestimating what you can do with the equity in your present home.

Disappearing Land? As the example on the Relocation Evaluation Form shows, you'll typically pay an additional 50 percent beyond the sale price of your home to build a house that is the same size as the one you already own. That's because you virtually give away your land and location advantages when you sell a house. But when you build new, the land you'll build on is anything but free. Land prices in almost all areas of the country (like Albuquerque) continue to rise quickly. Smaller and smaller lots are going for much higher prices. And available locations are getting farther from central businesses and schools.

So re-evaluate what you already have. Before you decide to build, be sure your present home can't be remodeled to suit your needs, and be sure the investment in your new home really improves your lifestyle in all areas. The hard facts are encouraging many would-be new home builders to remodel rather than relocate. It's no longer a second choice, in fact the numbers show it's more than twice as common to remodel as to build new, especially in the current economy.

Buy Used and Remodel? Find What You Want and Customize?

If you're moving to an area where housing is in high demand, it can be tough to find the right combination of features in a neighborhood you like, with good schools, close to your work and so on. One way to broaden your horizons is to look for a less expensive house in a good location that can be customized just the way you want it.

Look Before You Leap

A recent study revealed that a Realtor, like the general public, is likely to underestimate domestic renovation costs by 50 percent on average! So don't buy a used home on the realtor's guess that it can be "fixed up" for a few thousand. You need an educated opinion by a real expert who is not in any way connected to the sale of the house.

If you're really interested, it may be worth your while to pay a professional remodeler for an estimate (without the realtor present). A second opinion provided by the realtor's "expert" should be considered suspect. But if you do your research, buying used and remodeling can be more fulfilling than buying a new house.

The reason has to do with the basic philosophies of builders versus remodelers. The typical builder's drive to "make it cheaper" results in new homes that may have more room for less money, but they're not all that great to live in. Remodelers, on the other hand, are driven to "make it better." The remodeler's mission is to improve your home (that's why we call it "home improvement"). The result is a home that feels good to be in, that suits your tastes precisely, a home that really fits.

Consider your alternatives

If you find your choices too constrained in the new home market, consider remodeling your present home or buying a less expensive used home and remodeling it. More creative work is involved in remodeling, but you might find the lifestyle improvement you were really after, once you make the critical evaluations.

Cost vs. Resale Value?

"If I decide to sell my home down the road, will I recoup my remodeling investment?" Excellent question! Click this link to open a page from "Remodeling Magazine" with some very interesting numbers on various types of remodels to give you some perspective. Remodeling Magazine: Cost vs. Value Report.

What About Lead?

If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance that old lead paint on your walls, doors, windows and sills may be dangerous. We at Arch Design are trained, equiped and certified to deal with lead hazards. This ensures both the future value of your home and the health and safety of your family.

— How Do I Choose a Remodeler? —

Contractor's License

Not all states require licensing for remodeling. If yours does, check with your state's Construction Industry Department. They will be able to tell you if the remodeler(s) you're looking at have valid, up-to-date licenses. Arch Design is fully licensed, bonded, and insured.


Anyone you work with needs to have liability insurance and Workman's Compensation insurance. This is for your protection! Ask the name of their provider. You can call to get copies of their certificates. Any hesitation on the remodeler's part to furnish this information should have you saying, "Next!" But, you can rest assured that Arch Design carries all relevant insurance.

BBB and Home Builder's Associations

While belonging to one or more of these associations may indicate that your remodeler has a true interest in being a legitimate company, it won't help answer specific questions or give details about how your remodeler works. Take any information you get with a grain of salt. In the case of the BBB, not having any complaints on file against a remodeler does not necessarily mean that s/he is good. At the same time, a remodeler who has complaints against him is not necessarily bad. If anyone has filed complaints against your remodeler, find out if the problem was resolved. Don't be afraid to ask about it.

We are a certified RRP Renovator, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Certified Green Professional, and members of the HBACNM and RMC.


Find out what other certifications and/or memberships your potential remodeler is affiliated with. Some examples are: Green Builders Council, Certified Graduate Remodeler, Certified Kitchen and Bath, Home Builders Association, and Remodelers Council, to name a few. This shows an interest in professional approach and education to current trends and technologies. Don't forget to ask us about this.


Now that you've chosen a remodeling company who seems to fit the bill, it's time to make a final check of that all important indicator — reputation. Ask for a referral list of past projects and clients. Of course they will all be satisfied clients. But be careful questioning. You can get a feel for how satisfied they really were. For example:

  • Did they work every day?
  • Did they charge for change orders on every little problem?
  • Did they keep the site clean?
  • Did they suggest affordable design improvements?
  • How did they respond to issues that arose?
  • Would you have them remodel your next project?
  • Were you comfortable with their crew in your house?

You should explore work the remodelor has done in the past. Scrutinize photos or make actual site visits if possible. At Arch Design and Remodeling, we're happy for you to find out from our clients how hard we try and just how close we come to perfection in all of the above categories! Call us for a quote on your home remodeling project — (505) 344-0002