To renovate, or to raze and replace? That is the question.
With limited buildable land available on Cape Cod, and an inventory of aging homes that have withstood decades of harsh New England weather, it is not unheard of – far from it – to remove an existing home and rebuild with something that better suits homeowners’ needs.
Whether you’ve lived in your home for years and are vacillating between a large-scale remodel or rebuilding, or are considering purchasing a home that you intend to raze and replace, it is a big decision in which many factors come into play.
If any of the below are true of your home, replacing it, rather than renovating, may be the better choice.
It Isn’t Worthy of Your Waterfront Lot
Cape Cod began became known as a summer destination late in the 1800s. Land, even oceanfront land, was inexpensive, and people often built utilitarian cottages that provided a rustic escape from urban life in the summer months.
Oh, how things have changed.
If you’ve inherited your family’s generations-old, waterfront summer cottage, the land on which it sits may be worth far more than the home itself. If the home has been enlarged over the decades, it was probably done in phases, resulting in a choppy layout. Whether you plan on passing your property to future generations or selling it, rebuilding is likely to prove a good investment, both financially and in adding to your family’s enjoyment. An in-depth consultation with a Cape Cod builder will help greatly in exploring your options and making the decisions.
Because of the shortage of buildable land on the Cape, especially waterfront parcels, it is not uncommon for people to purchase oceanfront property with the outright intention of razing an existing home and rebuilding.
Whichever the case, there are crucial questions that must be answered before the first hammer swings or a purchase-and-sale agreement is signed.
Part of what has allowed Cape Cod to maintain its bucolic charm is the existence of strict conservation laws. With the Cape surrounded by water and in the path of the occasional hurricane, building codes are also more stringent here than in other regions.
Prior to finalizing contracts, find out if building density regulations or the presence of nearby wetlands will prohibit building a larger home. If so, will height limitations allow you to build a taller home within the footprint of the existing one? If the property is in a velocity flood zone, a new home may need to be built on stilts, furthering complicating height restrictions.
Ensuring that you have accurate information is, again, where it’s time to tap into your Cape Cod custom home builder’s expertise.
The Home Has Reached Its Expiration Date
Yes, historic homes are charming and are oftentimes worth preserving. If a Cape home is located in a historic district, it may have to be preserved.
But what if your home is dated, rather than historic? A home cannot only look dated; its structural elements and systems may have also reached their “expiration date.” When renovating a home that is more than 50 years old, it’s likely that remodeling work will need to address not just aesthetic changes, but systemic updates that will bring it in line with today’s current building codes, as well.
As you begin to plan renovations to your older home, ask your builder to check the wiring and plumbing, including the HVAC system, the foundation, and the structural support beams and sill plate. If any of these are failing or no longer up to code, razing and rebuilding may be the way to go. Not only will building a new home provide you with exactly what you need, it may well be the less pricey option.
It Simply Isn’t Big Enough
Families change. Life changes.
For many people, summer on the Cape is all about spending time with family and friends. If your family has grown to now include spouses of your adult children and their children, or if your house is where friends congregate for long weekends, that sleeper sofa in the basement probably isn’t cutting it anymore. If you are nearing retirement age, adding a first-floor bedroom suite may be on your radar as an absolute must. Add a few adults who need privacy to tend to business into the mix, and your simple cottage may simply be too small for your current – and future – needs.
An addition can be a cost-effective way of increasing your home’s livable space. But if zoning restrictions don’t allow an addition, or your home has reached its “expiration date,” tearing down and starting over is probably your best bet in the long run.
Our home is much more than a “shelter from the storm.” It is where we spend time with loved ones and make memories. Gathering as much information as possible well in advance, and working with an experienced Cape Cod builder, will help your family make the right decision about whether to renovate or raze and replace.