Remodeling or New Home?

Remodeling or New home?
Some of my clients are confused when they come to see me for remodeling their house.
In many cases they are not sure if they should remodel the existing house or build a new one.
There are many factors to consider:
Financial considerations: How long they going to live in the house,
how much money they are planning to spend, and how to make sure
they don’t build the most expensive house on the block.
Building Code: When the cost of remodeling exceeds 50% of the house’s
market value or the remodeling area exceeds 50% of the house’s total area,
the entire house has to comply with the new Building Code
(which will increase the cost of construction substantially)
Construction considerations: If the remodeling work or addition is limited in scope
(just a couple of rooms, about 20% of the entire house)
it is worth it to remodel or add to the existing house.
On the other hand, if the remodeling work and/or the new addition is much more extensive,
the homeowner should analyze other options to determine if it makes sense financially.
Even after remodeling an existing house is still old –
most of the existing electrical wiring, plumbing and mechanical systems will stay in place.
By experience and asking some clients after the house has been completed,
we find that many regretted their decision. Most would have preferred a new house,
(comparing SF to SF, remodeling work is typically more expensive than building a new house).
One empiric rule of thumb to help making a choice between remodeling
or a new house is the following: When the cost of remodeling exceeds
about 40% of the house market value, it is better build a new house.

Porch Enclosure

Porch enclosure
Enclosing an existing Patio is one of the most common changes homeowners make.
It allows them to expand the living area very efficiently because the roof and
floor are existing. Increasing the living area also increases the value of the house.
An existing porch can be enclosed with wood or masonry walls.
Both types of walls are fine, I prefer masonry walls in South Florida.
It is easier to build wood walls around the patio and easier to anchor
those new walls to the existing structure but it depends on the type of beams
below the roof and the type of existing foundation that is below the new walls.
Independently from the type of walls used, the Florida Building Code requires
that the concrete footing must be min. 16″x18″. Unfortunately around a patio
the footings are much smaller, about 10″x12″. It has
to be increased to meet Code and to resist the extra gravity and lateral load.
If the beam below the roof is made of wood material, it is not easy to anchor
a masonry wall but it can be done. In this case, a wood wall would be more
appropriate but most homes in South Florida have concrete beams, so a new
masonry wall is a perfect match and easy to anchor to the existing concrete beam.
A #5 steel rod can be used to connect both elements in order to resist
high wind pressure and have a perfect joint between the existing and new.

Kitchen Design

The kitchen is the center of gravity in the homes of many American families.
In some cultures the kitchen is more than a mere space for cooking,
it is also a space where family and friends gather together to
cook, eat, drink, and enjoy each other’s company.
A good kitchen doesn’t need to be large or beautiful.
It has to be functional and has to reflect the life style of the occupants.

A kitchen can take different shapes but basically there are only two types:
Formal and Casual. An open kitchen to the family room is casual and more
stimulating. It opens the wings to everybody in the house. On the other hand,
for people who value privacy,
a formal, closed-in kitchen is more appropriate.

Bathroom Design

The bathroom is the most private space in the house.
It is also a place where vanity is not just a piece of furniture.
The ideal bathroom should be spacious and beautiful,
but when the space available is limited, it is critical to place each element
strategically to have a functional layout without sacrificing beauty.
When designing a bathroom the first thing you want to avoid is a wall
in front of the entrance. To give depth and a sense of perspective,
I place the small elements, vanities or tubs, across from the entrance;
the large elements, showers & toilets, at the opposite wall.
When space is a luxury, I have placed an open large shower
in front of the entrance. There are many variations in the
above basic conceptual design, of course, due to peculiar bathroom shapes.

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