When your most precious property is at stake, the decision is difficult, and the pros and cons must be weighed carefully. If you decide that remodeling is the way to go, the task of planning the project must be addressed professionally. You may find useful guidelines in the article: Planning a Remodeling Project
When to remodel?
When your living conditions leave something to be desired, but you are reluctant to take on the major financial commitment that moving or construction will entail. Fairly small changes can sometimes accomplish much in terms of living conditions, comfort, and general atmosphere. Renovation and a change of atmosphere and style are at times all it takes to achieve the necessary improvement. In most cases, remodeling is cheaper than finding or building a new place of residence.
Keeping Things as They Are
Sometimes a change is necessary, but you do not want to say goodbye to what you have come to know and love. The process of selling a house and looking for a new one is often shadowed by the stress, sadness, and fear of letting go of a familiar environment. In cases like this, it is wise to consider whether it is possible to improve living conditions without having to move. Remodeling allows you to narrow the scope of change to include only the aspects that absolutely require it, without embarking on the house sale adventure. It also allows the opportunity to maintain many of the elements of your everyday life that are entwined with your place of residence, such as your neighborhood, schools, neighbors, and community. Many choose to reject the idea of improving their living conditions for fear of the unknown and the uncertainty associated with moving. A change is easier to imagine, when it takes place in an existing, familiar home.
Remodeling can be an excellent solution when the size of the house meets your needs, but the interior planning no longer does. For instance: your children have moved out, the basement stands empty and unused, whereas the living room is bursting with activity. Your legs are not what they used to be, and walking up and down the stairs all day long is difficult. For situations like this, remodeling is an ideal solution.
If the house is too small, but can be legally expanded (unused building percentages, building borders that allow for expansion, an attic that can be made usable, etc.), you can remodel and expand your living space at the same time.
When not to remodel?
Lack of Space
When you definitely need more room and it cannot be obtained legally. Consult a professional to check if you have the option of receiving a building permit to increase the area you can build on (sometimes you can get an abatement, even if you have previously used all the area you had available). If that is not an option, we recommend avoiding illegal expansions. Risks of a stop-work order, administrative fines, lawsuits, and other hassles are simply not worth it. Even if this does not happen during remodeling, it will cause legal problems when you attempt to sell the house in the future. Additionally, illegal construction will cause the value of the house on the real-estate market to drop.
When the necessary change is so radical that the cost of remodeling begins to approach the cost of new construction, the feasibility of remodeling should be weighed carefully. If the expansion requires adding foundations and framing, or the infrastructures are in so bad a shape that they need to be replaced entirely, and the land value in the surrounding area is relatively low – calculations may indicate that the cost of remodeling approaches that of a new construction. In this case, other aforementioned considerations, such as the area, the fear of new construction, etc., should be taken into consideration before the decision to remodel is made.
Your Relationship with Your House
When the desire for change is driven by the house itself or its surroundings, rather than the needs of its inhabitants, consider whether remodeling would achieve the results you want. Unwanted memories, unpleasant neighbors, perhaps the neighborhood is not what it used to be? All these indicate that you should not spend your money and energy on a place you no longer want to live in. It is worth checking what can be done with the available budget to avoid having to live in a place you do not feel comfortable with.
Should we use architect’s services?
The fact that the owners have lived in a house for many years does not guarantee, and in fact, often interferes with their ability to define the change they want, and the methods of achieving it, unaided. A skilled professional is needed in order to examine the existing situation both physically and legally, and to identify its potential and make the best of it.
The architect is well-versed in the happenings of the construction field and constantly receives updates on new materials, technologies, and other innovations. He is therefore able to offer functional and aesthetic solutions that the client has no access to. When the homeowner comes in direct contact with new products presented by salespeople and marketers, he risks making rash decisions and losing control of his budget. The architect can provide the homeowners with professional guidance and direction that would allow them to make the best choices, on all the aspects of remodeling.
Dealing with Change
Often a change is delayed for emotional reasons, or because the owners lack the energy to make it happen. Not being emotionally attached to every corner of the house makes it easier for an architect to assess the situation from an unbiased perspective, utilize his professional knowledge, make the necessary considerations, and actively suggest ideas for change. An experienced architect knows how to handle his clients’ emotional difficulties, and can help them make the right decisions and traverse the change process with ease.
Choosing Construction Tradesmen
Remodeling is a problematic and unregulated field in Israel. Unfortunately, some of the remodeling contractors and tradesmen, lack both professionalism and proper work ethics. Many clients avoid the “adventure” of remodeling out of fear of dealing with the “remodelers”. An architect who knows his field can identify professionals who will do an excellent job and provide appropriate service. The architect’s involvement saves the clients unnecessary expenditures and grief.
The quality assurance of the work and materials, and the comparison between the plans and their execution, must be performed by a professional. A family continuing to live in a house during the remodeling is no replacement for professional supervision. An architect, who knows the construction processes, particularly the remodeling method being implemented, is the ideal person to supervise the project, especially if he is also the designer who knows the client’s expectations. A professional supervisor can also learn the details of a plan and supervise its execution, but only the architect can provide immediate technical and architectural solutions for any unexpected problems that arise, as they so often do during projects.
A remodeling project requires careful planning and close supervision, and at times, even more so than new construction. The work must be performed within the severe limitations of space, time, and budget. Paying attention to the small details, both in planning and in execution, is of crucial importance. Correct conduct will yield excellent results, and may even bring about pleasant surprises, at a lower cost than new construction.