It’s not easy to find your perfect dream home. No wonder so many people end up shopping for houses with the idea of remodeling in mind.
Often, “new owners commit to the property not because they love what it is, but because they love what it could be,” notes architect Jeff Pelletier, in a recent blog.
But remodeling plans that seem simple to the lay person can be harder to accomplish than it seems. “Frequently, we’ll hear something along the lines of, ‘We can just tear down this wall and do a whole new kitchen!’ But costs can be expensive, walls often can’t just be torn down, and things that seem straightforward and easy really do benefit from in-depth study and analysis,” notes Pelletier.
If you’re shopping for a home that you might remodel, Pelletier suggests considering these safeguards before purchasing:
Talk to an architect or structural engineer: This is particularly important if your plans include tearing down a wall. Professionals can assess if the wall has the right support to be removed.
Check the pipes and plumbing: Sure, it’s not the most exciting thing to consider, but if the plumbing is in bad shape, the costs of a remodel immediately rise. Hire a home inspector to let you know if any upgrades to the system will be necessary.
Consider the yard: Think about how the outdoor space will serve you at all times of the day. Is there adequate sun for the garden you envision? Can you hear noise from the road? Can you transform it into the retreat that you imagine? “Your yard is usually a larger living space than your home and should carefully be considered and evaluated,” notes Pelletier.
Look at the layout of the house: If it’s to your liking, and the walls are all in the right places, your remodel will be much less expensive.
Study the building code: Beware of buying a house that doesn’t conform to the building or zoning code. That can lead to problems down the road.
Be aware of environmental overlays: “You might think that the steep slope in your backyard is pretty far from your house and that you could easily build out your kitchen, but there will be a buffer zone that you’ll want to understand,” cautions Pelletier. Know what limitations you might face.
Be realistic about the work you are facing: When you look at the house, does every part of it need remodeling, or just a few areas? Even if a space requires minimal work, costs add up. “If you’re touching more than half of the house you’re likely going to be spending far more money than anyone is telling you,’ notes Pelletier.