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    JDSwan87's Avatar
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    Build New House or Large Addition w/Full Reno?

    Preface: Neither will happen for about another 4 years... My lovely bride and I intend to be 100% debt free within 3 years. We DO NOT want to move from our property, it has 12 acres, city sewer, natural gas, good well water and good proximity to city misc shopping.

    The existing house has a 2 year old roof and new furnace/ a.c. last summer. It's costs $300/mo to cool it in the summer and $180/no to heat in the winter with 26" of blown fiberglass insulation in the attic. House was built in the late 60s, has 200 amp service, very little wall insulation 3 bed 1 bath, 1400sqft ranch. Small bathroom, decent size rooms and basement laundry. House needs new windows (existing were installed early 90s, cheap), new siding and new doors along with wall insulation.

    We would like to add another bathroom, make the kitchen a little larger (and Reno it), add a master suite, make our existing bathroom a little larger, and add a first floor laundry. If we did the reno, we would all of this and reno the existing 3 rooms and add more insulation. We would also widen the existing hallway to accomadate a wheelchair and widen all door ways to fit a 36" door. The addition would be about 20'x40' and would involve removing 2 walls and raising a 20'x20' existing roof and floor to match existing. It would be nearly a complete gut with replacing new HVAC since there will be more sqft. I would contract out all work, my ball park guess is all this work would cost $150k and take 2-3 months.

    Other option is have a new ranch style house built directly behind our existing, 3 ft away and demo old house. I have been looking at modular houses (not trailers) that come in pieces on a truck. If I went this route, it would cost about $200k.

    Either option will be our lifetime house, hence wide hallways and doors.

    With the wealth of knowledge here, what would YOU do?

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    Do you have to deal with permits & inspections? Can make a huge diff. If you can't/don't want to do the work and can find a modular that suits you, that's the route I'd take. Living with remodel work in progress can be challenging. This is from someone in a house that has been in add/remodel mode for 40 years - but it's a hobby for us.
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    First question that I must have missed - your goal is to be debt free in 3 years. How does an extensive remodel fit into this?

    Now I have some years on you but our situations are kind of similar. Weíve been here for 21 years. Perfect property and area for us like you.

    90+ year old house. We went all out just to afford this place when we bought it. I had to refinance once in order to buy a piece of adjoining land to insure our continued privacy. We have 12 months left of mortgage payments.

    As you know I have always applauded you with your goal to be debt free. But let me tell my story....

    The old house was likely upgraded sometime in the 50ís or 60ís. Everything is functional but old looking. I donít care about the looks. Along the way we put on a new roof, new windows, new furnace, new water heater (twice) - you get the idea. But because of the ongoing repairs and maintenance plus all the other stuff the life always throws at you we were never able to pay off the mortgage early. But thatís OK - weíre almost there.

    So just wondering about your plan. To remodel and upgrade everything is expensive - do you plan on another mortgage? The reason I ask - we did it as we went along without borrowing extra money. Yes, the kitchen and bathroom could really use remodeling and we are at the point now desperately needing handicap type upgrades. I love your idea of making everything wheelchair accessible.

    We never had any thought of moving - this is our old house and we love it. After the mortgage is paid off we will try to get the kitchen and bathroom done without borrowing money. I HATE being beholden to a bank for anything.

    In summary - can you do the things you want at a much slower pace and stay debt free? That would be my choice if you can pull it off.
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    JDSwan87's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dianedebuda View Post
    Do you have to deal with permits & inspections? Can make a huge diff. If you can't/don't want to do the work and can find a modular that suits you, that's the route I'd take. Living with remodel work in progress can be challenging. This is from someone in a house that has been in add/remodel mode for 40 years - but it's a hobby for us.
    We have inspections here, the one time so far I had to have one, it went smoothly. I had our electrical service buried and 200amp service installed.



    Quote Originally Posted by coaltrain View Post
    First question that I must have missed - your goal is to be debt free in 3 years. How does an extensive remodel fit into this?

    Now I have some years on you but our situations are kind of similar. Weíve been here for 21 years. Perfect property and area for us like you.

    90+ year old house. We went all out just to afford this place when we bought it. I had to refinance once in order to buy a piece of adjoining land to insure our continued privacy. We have 12 months left of mortgage payments.

    As you know I have always applauded you with your goal to be debt free. But let me tell my story....

    The old house was likely upgraded sometime in the 50ís or 60ís. Everything is functional but old looking. I donít care about the looks. Along the way we put on a new roof, new windows, new furnace, new water heater (twice) - you get the idea. But because of the ongoing repairs and maintenance plus all the other stuff the life always throws at you we were never able to pay off the mortgage early. But thatís OK - weíre almost there.

    So just wondering about your plan. To remodel and upgrade everything is expensive - do you plan on another mortgage? The reason I ask - we did it as we went along without borrowing extra money. Yes, the kitchen and bathroom could really use remodeling and we are at the point now desperately needing handicap type upgrades. I love your idea of making everything wheelchair accessible.

    We never had any thought of moving - this is our old house and we love it. After the mortgage is paid off we will try to get the kitchen and bathroom done without borrowing money. I HATE being beholden to a bank for anything.

    In summary - can you do the things you want at a much slower pace and stay debt free? That would be my choice if you can pull it off.
    "The borrower is slave to the lender" I tell myself that everyday.

    We would be debt free PRIOR to start of the large reno or new build. I thought about going at a slower pace but with all that needs done, I think it would be cheaper in the long run to hit it all in one fell swoop since a lot of it intertwines with other parts of the reno. Where the addition would go is off 1 wall where the roof/floor are being raised and the kitchen wall is a common wall.

    If things work out, we would be able to "shift" our debt snowball into paying off a mortgage. Once we are out of debt, if I maintain my current payoff/work pace, I would pay it off in 50-60 months.

    I obviously hate debt too but this is one instance where it would be necessary to take out a 15 year mortgage and pay it off early.


    In the pic below, the blue is existing house, red is possible removed walls and green is possible addition. Garage is behind house.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coaltrain View Post
    First question that I must have missed - your goal is to be debt free in 3 years. How does an extensive remodel fit into this?

    Now I have some years on you but our situations are kind of similar. Weíve been here for 21 years. Perfect property and area for us like you.

    90+ year old house. We went all out just to afford this place when we bought it. I had to refinance once in order to buy a piece of adjoining land to insure our continued privacy. We have 12 months left of mortgage payments.

    As you know I have always applauded you with your goal to be debt free. But let me tell my story....

    The old house was likely upgraded sometime in the 50ís or 60ís. Everything is functional but old looking. I donít care about the looks. Along the way we put on a new roof, new windows, new furnace, new water heater (twice) - you get the idea. But because of the ongoing repairs and maintenance plus all the other stuff the life always throws at you we were never able to pay off the mortgage early. But thatís OK - weíre almost there.

    So just wondering about your plan. To remodel and upgrade everything is expensive - do you plan on another mortgage? The reason I ask - we did it as we went along without borrowing extra money. Yes, the kitchen and bathroom could really use remodeling and we are at the point now desperately needing handicap type upgrades. I love your idea of making everything wheelchair accessible.

    We never had any thought of moving - this is our old house and we love it. After the mortgage is paid off we will try to get the kitchen and bathroom done without borrowing money. I HATE being beholden to a bank for anything.

    In summary - can you do the things you want at a much slower pace and stay debt free? That would be my choice if you can pull it off.
    We built our complete Spread with out a Mortgage and still don't have one. It took 22 years to get it to this point.Click image for larger version.†

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    coaltrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDSwan87 View Post
    We have inspections here, the one time so far I had to have one, it went smoothly. I had our electrical service buried and 200amp service installed.





    "The borrower is slave to the lender" I tell myself that everyday.

    We would be debt free PRIOR to start of the large reno or new build. I thought about going at a slower pace but with all that needs done, I think it would be cheaper in the long run to hit it all in one fell swoop since a lot of it intertwines with other parts of the reno. Where the addition would go is off 1 wall where the roof/floor are being raised and the kitchen wall is a common wall.

    If things work out, we would be able to "shift" our debt snowball into paying off a mortgage. Once we are out of debt, if I maintain my current payoff/work pace, I would pay it off in 50-60 months.

    I obviously hate debt too but this is one instance where it would be necessary to take out a 15 year mortgage and pay it off early.


    In the pic below, the blue is existing house, red is possible removed walls and green is possible addition. Garage is behind house.

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
    Itís all about person priorities.

    One thing I should add - the real estate market has been and will be dead in my area - nobody wants to live here (which is fine with me!) but property values do not appreciate at all. So when looking at something like this here and there over the years, putting a substantial investment into our place would not pay off in the end whenever we would sell. That was a main factor in not doing what you are planning.

    In a normal market you should be fine and at least break even. It takes a lot of the sting out of a major investment if you know you will eventually get it back. Right now if I put $40k into my house it would only increase the value by $20k if that.

    So my next question is why do you want/need this remodel? Expanding family? Weíve been over that question many times over the years when thinking about something like this. The first couple years we were here I mentioned to my father in law about expanding. Iíve always seen him as a very wise person who helped us do most of our major projects.

    His take in it was this - we have enough room now for the 3 of us but think ahead 15-20 years when my daughter wouldnít be living here and it was just the 2 of us. You donít want more house than you can easily take care of and heat. I didnít see the wisdom in this until the last few years - our house is the perfect size for the 2 of us.

    Iím getting off on a major tangent here. Back to your original question about remodeling or moving.

    You have to evaluate what you have. Do you like where you live? Do you want for more land? Do you want to relocate for other reasons?

    I am not a mover - I hate the thought of moving. Part of it scares me in what you might end up for with neighbors etc. So if you love your property and itís location itís a no brainer in my mind - stay put and make what you have the way you want it.
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    We built a new home and moved in last Oct.

    I'm in WI, similar winters etc as MI.
    I wanted out of our old house, built in the late '70's, cold in winter.
    Even at 72 it felt cold, poor quality windows and bad insulation in walls.
    You cold feel the cold standing nest to the windows.

    SO we bought land, bigger better piece of land, more private.
    The biggest issue was building. General Contractor took over a year to build and at the end he walked out over his screw up (one of hundreds) on the build.
    I had to finish and hire help to finish house myself.
    Can't say enough bad things about the GC.

    That being said in the end the new house is very energy efficient. If you build new 1st concern is making it as air tight as possible then secondly is insulation. Air tightness can be measured. Ours came in at 1ach @50 pascals. typical new house is probably over 3ach. So ours is very air tight.
    2ndly our house is very highly insulated. Basement walls are r24, house walls are r36, ceiling is r60. We had triple pane windows installed.
    We heat our house with wood in the winter but use only 3 cords for a 2800 sq ft house not including basement space.

    Another thing to remember about insulation, if you use fiberglas bats (worst type of insulation) in a regular stud wall your true r value is much worse than you'd think. For example an 6" stud wall has a more realistic r value of about 13 not the 19 or so that the batts are.

    If you build spend more money on insulation. It is one of the few things that WILL pay you back. Granite counter tops have a zero payback. Also your house will be more comfortable at a lower temp. We keep our new place at around 72 in the winter. its very cozy as compared to the old place that always felt cold and uncomfortable.

    We also built our home to have everything NEEDED on the 1st floor. Laundry, bedroom, kitchen etc, all on 1st floor. 2nd floor is guest rooms, loft area for me and a "bonus" room my wife uses. Basement is just empty except for furnace, water heater etc. We made all the doorways 36" and the main hallway is about 6 ft wide. All for easy access.

    We also built with an eye on location and orientation to the sun. Garage on the north side to help shelter the house from the winter winds, very few windows on the N. side. Lots of windows on the So. side and very importantly over 2ft of overhang on the sofits so that the winter sun will shine in in the winter but not in the summer. Our house will actually increase in temp. a couple of degrees when the sun is shining in the winter because of all the south facing windows. On cloudy days the temp will not decrease cause of lack of sun. Very windy days are another thing.

    I am a firm believer in spending more money up front for things like insulation which will always be paying you back and are very hard to do in the future vs spending money on finishes that can easily be changed in the future and don't pay you back anything.

    This all is just my .02 on home building.
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    Since you mention that you would widen hallways and install 36 inch doors so that house would be accessible in later years, I would lean towards building new.

    We built our current home to be accessible because my wife has MS and other issues, but missed on a few opportunities when we designed the layout. Some areas are tight for my wife on her scooter. 36 inch doors are fine, but I wish our hallway was 5 foot wide to allow more turning room. Our door out to the garage drops 19 inches to the garage floor. In 9 short years we went from 3 standard rise steps, to 4 low rise steps and now recently to a 19 foot "L" shaped ramp with upper landing and a 4x4 corner landing. You will end up building a lot of dead space to make the house truly accessible.

    I would move the master bedroom so it has direct access to the common living areas for 2 reasons: easier for the person who may need mobility devices and it is a lot easier for EMTs to get to the person if needed. That is one flaw in our design, the MB door is right across from the steps going to the loft, and although the space at the bottom of the stairs meets code, it is a tight fit for EMTs to navigate their gurney (real life experience).

    Bathrooms are another area where to be truly accessible, you will eat up a lot of room. You will most likely want to build a roll in shower, have a step in tub, a vanity with enough room for a wheelchair or scooter to park in front and of course enough room by the toilet to park and transfer.

    Exterior egress is another big concern, make sure you have enough room to for ramps with a 12:1 slope.

    It's easy to spend other people's money, I'm just offering some advice from our build where we attempted to build for future needs. Looking at your current layout, I don't believe that would try to reno knowing what our accessible challenges were/are.

    As far as modular, there are some great manufacturers out there. Our home is modular, a total of 6 units with a 2400 square foot main floor plus double garage and 500 sf loft. Built very solid, I upgraded to 2x12 floor joists from standard 2x10. We made a lot of changes to one of their stock plans. Even though the home is modular, there was a lot of work prior to the set and a ton of work after the set. I planned on doing most of the post set work myself, but in the end contracted out more than I anticipated. I did all of the interior finish work (stairs to loft, installing all the T&G on the vaulted ceiling, running all the electrical drops to the panels, stairs to basement and a host of other things) and contracted out the exterior deck work and installation of the 1/2 log siding.

    Hope these thoughts help with your decision.
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    Quote Originally Posted by coaltrain View Post
    Itís all about person priorities.

    One thing I should add - the real estate market has been and will be dead in my area - nobody wants to live here (which is fine with me!) but property values do not appreciate at all. So when looking at something like this here and there over the years, putting a substantial investment into our place would not pay off in the end whenever we would sell. That was a main factor in not doing what you are planning.

    In a normal market you should be fine and at least break even. It takes a lot of the sting out of a major investment if you know you will eventually get it back. Right now if I put $40k into my house it would only increase the value by $20k if that.

    So my next question is why do you want/need this remodel? Expanding family? Weíve been over that question many times over the years when thinking about something like this. The first couple years we were here I mentioned to my father in law about expanding. Iíve always seen him as a very wise person who helped us do most of our major projects.

    His take in it was this - we have enough room now for the 3 of us but think ahead 15-20 years when my daughter wouldnít be living here and it was just the 2 of us. You donít want more house than you can easily take care of and heat. I didnít see the wisdom in this until the last few years - our house is the perfect size for the 2 of us.

    Iím getting off on a major tangent here. Back to your original question about remodeling or moving.

    You have to evaluate what you have. Do you like where you live? Do you want for more land? Do you want to relocate for other reasons?

    I am not a mover - I hate the thought of moving. Part of it scares me in what you might end up for with neighbors etc. So if you love your property and itís location itís a no brainer in my mind - stay put and make what you have the way you want it.
    Our desire for the addition is mainly driven by the desire for main floor laundry, additional bathroom and master suite. The master suite is last on the list. The reason for the size of the addition is I want to do it once, not twice. We also do not want to move from the property, it's a good location and I will be buying adjacent property as it comes up for sale. I already have a verbal agreement to buy 2.5 acres from my Southern neighbor in a few years when he moves.

    Baby #2 is on the way, due 12/6/18. After that, we are done.

    The thing that kills me is how NOT energy efficient the house is. The windows and doors are super drafty, I can feel air coming thru them when the wind blows. I wouldn't be looking to recoup my costs in energy savings, I know that's difficult. I DO want to increase energy efficiency so in our later years, the energy bills are more manageable. If we do the reno, after it's complete, we would gut/redo the other 3 rooms to put more insulation in them. There is essentially none in the walls.

    I grew up in this house so I know a family of 4 can live in it, but the main floor laundry, additional bathroom and master suite would make it nicer.

    I figure the cost breakdown would be as noted below:

    Raise roof and floor: $8k
    Addition: $50k
    Reno kitchen: $20k
    Reno existing bath: $8k
    New windows: $15k
    New siding: $15k
    New doors: $5k
    New HVAC: $10k
    Redo other 3 rooms: $12k
    Contingency fund: $10k

    EDIT: I will also note, property in my area goes for roughly $10k/acre for unimproved ground. I'm into the 12 acres with house for about $90k.

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    Last edited by JDSwan87; 06-30-2018 at 12:27 PM.
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    Another way you can save money on a new build is build without a basement and without footings.
    There is a way to prevent frost heaving that would other wise cause you to pour footings.
    Its called a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation.

    here is a link.

    https://www.finehomebuilding.com/201...-foundations-2

    Along with this I would do a in floor hydronic heating system. Get rid of forced air heating and cooling, a poor heating/cooling system.

    Lots of good tech out there for saving money and energy efficiency. Biggest trouble is the vast majority of builders are ignorant about these things or are afraid to try them.
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