Chicago has a lot of amazing older homes, and if you own one of these, you have probably wondered whether it would be best to gut the place for a complete renovation or to demolish it and start from the ground up. We get this question a lot, and it’s important to understand that each home has unique needs. When we make a recommendation about a home, we need to inspect it and weigh several factors to determine which course is best in each situation. For example, the Patrick A. Finn team is in the process of remodeling a classic old farmhouse. (Follow #brinkermodernfarmhouse to watch the progress onour Facebook page.) The owners were hoping to gut and renovate their home. After a thorough design and planning process, we agreed to demolish the center of the home and create a large addition there to attach to the wings of the home that were structurally sound. So, what factors determine whether you should demolish and rebuild, or go for gut remodeling in Chicago?
Have Your Home Professionally Assessed
It’s impossible to make the wisest decision here without having a professional, foundation to roof home assessment done first. During this phase, the structural integrity of the building will be examined in detail. If, for example, the foundation and general structure of the home are strong and sound, it may make more sense to do gut remodeling. But if there are cracks in the foundation and the structure of the home is unsafe, you may consider demolishing and rebuilding. It is important to work with anexperienced Chicago home renovator so that every aspect of the structure can be assessed properly and evaluated for safety and integrity. Armed with that knowledge, you can make the next decisions.
Understanding the Scope of Work between Renovating vs. Demolishing
Obviously, demolishing and starting from scratch is the most extensive project between the two. However, there are some surprising reasons why this might be the best choice. Of course, structural integrity is one of those considerations, but so are the types of changes you want to make. If your current building is riddled with code violations and safety issues that would cost so much to repair that starting from scratch is cheaper, that’s obviously the way to go. But if the structure is sound and up-to-code in most ways, remodeling the inside makes more sense. One more consideration: do you want to keep the existing layout, or are you considering extensive layout changes that could, again, impact structural integrity? Sometimes a gut remodel takes longer and costs more because the internal demolition needs to be done more carefully and laboriously by hand, whereas an older structure can be demolished within hours to make way for a new, custom home.
How Long Do You Plan to Own and Live in the Home?
Homes are a long-term investment, so you need to weigh safety, quality of life, and your future plans when making this decision too. A gut remodel can reset your home’s lifespan in certain areas, but other areas will continue to age and need repair or update. All of this can add to the cost and inconvenience of living in the home. At the same time, if your home passed the initial assessment and is in pretty good shape structurally, gut remodeling of certain areas may be just the thing. But again, if large swaths of the home are starting to age poorly, demolish and rebuild might be the smarter option.
Gut Remodeling Cost vs Demolition and New Construction
Remember that demolishing and starting from the ground up is an all-or-nothing project, and generally, it will cost more because of that. Costs will include demolition, removal, and recycling of the old materials, and then all of the planning, construction, and materials for the new structure. Your local zoning laws will also have some say in what happens and can increase costs. In many Chicago suburbs, you may be restricted to building on the exact same footprint as the original house, and you may also be restricted as to height as well. On the other hand, gut remodeling of various rooms in a structurally-sound home usually costs less, but as previously mentioned, can require quite a bit of careful handiwork. Again, each home is different, and getting a full assessment and evaluating your long-term goals and needs will help you make the right decision.
Demolish and Rebuild or Gut Remodeling in Chicago?
If you own an older home in Chicago, and you’re not sure what your best course of action is, schedule a consultation with Patrick A. Finn for a complete assessment and expert recommendations. Also, be sure to check outour portfolio to see the high-quality work we’ve done around town, both in terms of rebuilding from the ground up and deep interior renovations. We can help guide you to the most intelligent and beautiful decision for your home.