When we bought our first home in 2013 we thought it would be our forever home. We planned on renovating once we were in a better place financially, but 6 years later we found ourselves struggling with the decision to renovate or sell.
We lived in an ideal neighborhood with the best neighbors, however, there were a few things missing that we wanted. We wanted more room, such as a big kitchen for entertaining, an additional bathroom, and space to escape such as a media room or office. Our home was 1,750 sq. feet with four bedrooms and 2 two bathrooms and a nice sized backyard. Our kitchen was small and only had room for a round table that fit 5 people. We also wanted a neighborhood pool!
I spoke with quite a few people who had done major renovations and realized it would be a major undertaking. Not only financially but mentally. We wanted to blow out walls, extend the back of our home to widen our kitchen, remove popcorn ceilings, replace trim and doors, raise ceilings, and add on a bathroom and extra room which meant lots of square footage. There would be rearranging of plumbing for the kitchen and bathroom. We also wanted to change the flooring throughout the entire home.
We planned on taking out a home improvement loan and doing all these renovations at once. We don’t have family in town, so we would have had to rent something during that time which is stressful and an added cost. How long would have construction taken? Three months? Six months? Twelve months? There’s no promise with a major renovation.
And then one random day our friend who happened to be our Realtor sent us a text of a home she thought we might like. She knew we wanted more space, and found a home in our neighborhood that was a good fit. For the first time, I began thinking about the possibility of buying a home vs. renovating.
Long story short, we didn’t buy that home but found a new build we liked while searching . We instantly fell in love, and the dilemma of buying vs. renovating kicked in.
How much would renovating really cost? We estimated $100,000 – $150,000 to get everything we wanted including appliances. However, we still wouldn’t get the neighborhood amenities we desired (still holding out for that pool). There is also the stress of a renovation can bring. I consider myself high strung and am easily stressed. Just thinking about a major renovation stressed me out. My Realtors advised the following as we were making our decision, “before embarking on any renovations projects it’s important to understand the property values in your neighborhood so as not to over-improve. If planned renovations are extensive and costly, it may be better to buy new. Kitchens and bathrooms typically receive the highest return value.”
Studies show over half of homeowners go over budget when remodeling, and can spend $5,000 to $60,000 on a kitchen remodel, it can add up quickly! However, if we moved we would be further from work and move away from neighbors we loved. We were in an amazing school district and Turner had lots of friends.
A new build was expensive, but it had everything we wanted in a home. It had all the amenities plus the kitchen of our dreams. I want to note this new build was already completed and was move-in ready, so we wouldn’t have to go through the building process. That in itself was appealing. We didn’t have to wait a year to build a home, we could simply move in once the contract was signed and have the home of our dreams.
Ultimately we decided to buy vs. renovate. While we miss our neighbors and shorter commute, we are head over heels in love with our new home. We sold our house for $100k more than when we purchased it and were able to use that money to put down on our new home. Every person’s situation is different so you really need to envision where you see yourself in 15-20 years. If you plan on moving out in 5-10 years, is a major renovation worth it? I definitely believe small renovations and DIY changes can make you feel more content with your home. I painted EVERY piece of trim and cabinet in our first home white and that alone made a huge difference.
Good luck in your home journey, and check out Homes.com if you are currently searching. They are Realtor friendly and easy to use!
Marketing Program Manager by day and blogger by night, Jesse writes about style, motherhood, travel, and home decor. A native Texan, Jesse and her husband, Alex are parents to their six-year-old son, Turner Jack, and three-year-old boy/girl twins, Walt and Whitney.