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Gut Remodel vs Demolish and Rebuild: Which is Better in Chicago?

Gut Remodel vs Demolish and Rebuild: Which is Better in Chicago?

Chicago has a lot of amazing older homes. If you happen to be the owner of one of these homes, you may have contemplated whether it would be more advantageous to completely renovate the house or to demolish it and begin anew.

This is a question we encounter frequently, and it's crucial to recognize that every home has distinct requirements. When we provide advice regarding a home remodel, we conduct a thorough inspection and consider various factors to determine the most suitable approach for each unique situation.

For example, the Patrick A. Finn team undertook the renovation of a class-old farmhouse. The homeowners had the intention of completely gutting and renovating their home. Following an extensive phase of designing and planning, we reached an agreement to demolish the central portion of the house and construct a spacious addition that would connect to the structurally sound wings.

 So, what are the factors that determine whether you should demolish and rebuild or go for gut remodeling in Chicago? This blog post will dive into each consideration.

Have Your Home Professionally Assessed

It’s impossible to make an educated decision without first having a professional foundation-to-roof home assessment done. 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 an experienced design-build firm 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. 

exterior brick home in chicago suburbs


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 updating. 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. 

If you're not sure whether you want to move forward with a home renovation project, start by downloading the eBook 'The Ultimate Step-by-Step Home Renovation Transformation Guide.'