New Build vs. Renovation - What's Better?

New Build vs. Renovation - What's Better?

When you are evaluating your options for making your home more comfortable, you may find yourself wondering about the benefits of starting from a blank slate.

New construction vs. renovation is a common comparison for homeowners researching construction work. Considering that renovation costs are more expensive per square foot than new build costs, building new can seem attractive. But is it worth it?

Your Costs

Yes, on a per-square-foot basis, new construction is less expensive than renovation. This is due to many reasons. In general, building materials have become lighter and less expensive over time. This saves on per-foot material and shipping costs, resulting in a less expensive investment when building new. Building methods have increased speed over time, and require fewer skilled tradespeople than ever to be implemented.

The biggest reason why new construction is less expensive than renovation is because of the logistics of the approach. Renovations incur many intangible costs due to the fact that the contractor is working inside a finished space. They need to dust shield and protect the existing home from the work, they may need to manipulate and move materials carefully through existing bottlenecks like stairwells and hallways, and they need to work around the exterior of a finished structure, which may create chokepoints on the property between the house and the property line. All of these limitations increase the labor and time necessary for the completion of the project, resulting in increased cost.

New construction starts from a blank slate. The site is graded and prepared for the installation of the foundation, and work progresses with many fewer physical and logistical bottlenecks in the way. In construction, physical access is a huge benefit to productivity and speed.

Your Livability

A downside of new construction in this situation is that it offers no livability to the homeowner. If you plan on tearing down your existing home and starting from scratch, you must temporarily relocate your family and your belongings so that construction work can begin. This incurs a temporary lifestyle change, and increased living and storage costs that may end up offsetting the less expensive per-foot cost of new build construction.

Renovations offer livability to a large degree, depending on which rooms of the house are being modified. We have performed hundreds of residential renovations, most of which kept the owners in their homes during completion. This does introduce some changes to their daily life, such as ordering takeout while a kitchen renovation is being performed, or doing laundry or showers in different parts of the home while a bathroom renovation is being performed. The duration of these changes are dependent on the overall timeline of the project.

Your Timeline

The timeline for a renovation project compared to a new construction project can be difficult to compare. In general, a renovation would take less time than a new build of a house, though it may have specific needs, such as it being performed in a historical home or other special case, which may increase the project duration. In this general case, the renovation is a smaller project in square footage and results in less new space, but that is offset by the benefit of disrupting your living situation for less time than a new build.

Your Decision

Your decision comes down to a combination of the above factors, such as whether or not you have another place to live, the raw costs of each option, but also the scale of your project. If you're thinking about a renovation or expansion of a few hundred feet or less, it is more economical to perform that renovation on an existing structure, despite the fact it may be more expensive on a per-square-foot basis. If you're envisioning a major renovation of your home that touches nearly every room in the house, then it may be more feasible to relocate temporarily, demolish the home, and start from scratch with a new plan.

With our experience performing thousands of residential construction projects in Bergen County and the surrounding area, we know the benefits of all kinds of residential construction projects, both new build and renovation. We can help you determine what is best for you, your family, and your home. For more help with your residential construction project, check out our residential construction page.

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