Last week, Chris and I taped off a few living room changes that are coming up in the next couple weeks. The door on the right will become a tall, arched passthrough out to the new dining space. On the left will be built in shelving of the same dimensions to balance the doorway and there will be a large, 7′ tapered double-sided fireplace in the middle. It’s going to change everything!!!!
With our major renovation in full effect, and me documenting every stud going up on Instagram–we often get asked, Wouldn’t it be easier to just build exactly what you want instead of renovate so much? I get it, it looks like a lot–especially right now with us ripping off an addition and essentially putting the same thing back in place. Adding ceilings and floors and making windows into doorways and moving fireplaces to completely different walls. And that’s just the major structural renovation we’re doing first. I can promise you, we’re gonna take the next several years tweaking this house to our liking. So why not build the exact house we want in the first place?
We aren’t against building at all (there’s a small chance we’ll build a cabin somewhere someday) but right now, in our life and for our lives, we are still loving the renovation journey–here are a few reasons that we have, and we’d love to know yours as well (or reasons you wouldn’t renovate).
- You can move in immediately and live there while improving over time. Building a custom house takes a long time. Renovating allowed us to find a house, in a location we loved and move in right away! For the most part, the layout was great, but the parts and finishes that weren’t, we can make exactly how we want to over the years.
- Building is a lot more expensive in our area right now and doesn’t include mature landscaping. Chris and I made a MUST HAVE list and a NICE TO HAVE list before looking for a home and one of our must haves was mature landscaping. Needless to say, we hit the landscaping jackpot. We have 3.5 acres and HUNDREDS of trees and shrubs and flowers. You can build whatever you want, but you can’t buy a house now and plant trees in the yard 20 years ago.
- To build this exact house and have it landscaped would have cost WAY more than what we paid. In our area, building costs are around $200/sq foot right now. Our home we bought was about 5000 square feet and when we’re done adding the permitted entertaining space and bonus space upstairs, it will be nearly 6000–so we’re talking $1.2 million and that doesn’t even include the hundreds of thousands of dollars the previous owners spent on landscaping. We definitely didn’t spend close to that. Economically, it just made more sense.
- We really love that renovating can be done over time, as budgets permit. All of the major renovations we’re implementing now are being paid for from the profit of the sale of our last house. But renovating over time on a budget is just what we’re comfortable with. It allows us to pay for our projects in cash and live in a space and figure out what it is we really want to do with it.
- Okay, so, it’s also our job. We have made a living renovating and giving existing homes a completely new life for the past decade. We aren’t professionals. We make lots of mistakes and mistakes in renovating seem like they would be a lot more forgiving than mistakes in building (like, HOW COULD I LIVE WITH MYSELF if I paid someone so much money to do something and then I end up not liking it?!).
Bottom line, we love sharing our renovation journey with all with you and we’re so happy we get to keep on doing that for years to come with this house. There are lots of moments that I feel drained by it, especially living in draped off portions of the house with loud noises and dust and power tools everywhere and then let’s throw 3 little kids and a dog in the mix! But for some reason–we just can’t quit it. It excites us every day. We’d love to hear your thoughts on building vs. renovating. Obviously there’s no right or wrong answer and I think it’s subjective and personal. Building is an adventure in its own right and something we’d love to try in some capacity someday. Tell us your stories either way!