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Man and woman dreaming about their new house.

Is it better to remodel or move? Or perhaps it’s time to build a new house?

Contractors frequently hear questions like these. 

A Harris Poll found that 76% of U.S. homeowners plan to complete home improvements in 2019, an increase from 2018. Big-ticket residential remodeling activity increased 4.1% in the first quarter of 2019 from the same period a year ago. 

In spite of the continued overall strength, slower growth has been projected for 2019, 2020 and 2021. The state of the housing market, along with broader economic trends, will continue to impact demand for remodeling.

Here are some considerations to share with clients who are weighing the merits of remodeling, moving to another existing home or building a new one. 

Impact on Home Value

Consumers already contemplating a move may hope to boost their current home’s value before placing it on the market.

But can a remodeling project help? The answer depends on the individual project, local market conditions, neighborhood characteristics and other factors. 

For the West North Central Region, which includes Missouri, the top home improvement project in terms of return on investment (ROI) is midscale manufactured stone veneer, which recovers 93.5% of its cost at resale. This is according to the “2019 Cost vs.Value Report” published by Remodeling magazine. In second place is midscale siding replacement, with an ROI of 87.4%

It’s also wise to choose home improvements that are consistent with comparable nearby homes. Adding features not found in similar homes can backfire, causing the property to sit on the market longer than necessary. 

Desired Specifications

Many clients are happy about some aspects of their current home but are dissatisfied with others. In this case they should consider the feasibility of a remodel versus finding or building another property with the required specs.

  • Condition of current home. Does the client merely want cosmetic changes, or are there bigger problems that must be fixed? Many older homes develop issues with the structural soundness, plumbing, wiring and HVAC systems. Buying or building a new home may be more cost-effective than attempting to remodel. 
  • Energy efficiency. Going green may be easier with a new build or a recent existing home. Older homes can become more efficient with new windows, doors and appliances, but may have trouble accommodating more extensive upgrades such as solar panels or new, more efficient HVAC systems. 
  • Customization. If housing inventory is limited, clients may have trouble finding all of the desired amenities they want. A new build or remodel may offer greater customization opportunities. For example, residents who stay in their current homes may still enjoy the benefits of a more up-to-date kitchen or bathroom. 
  • Size and layout needs. Families wanting more space may choose to add a whole new room or section to an existing house, rather than move into a new one. Another alternative would be adding a wall to transform a single large room into two smaller ones. This may create a more efficient use of space than simply adding more square footage.

Logistics and Convenience

Clients should consider the logistical requirements of building, remodeling or moving into an existing home. 

  • Building a new home will likely require either living in the old home or renting a temporary residence until construction is complete. 
  • A remodel could mean living in a construction zone for a few months, which may be especially challenging for kids or pets. Some remodels may require residents to temporarily move out, similar to a new build. 
  • A new build or remodel must comply with local zoning laws and regulations. 
  • Moving into an existing home may save some of the hassles of building or remodeling. 

Location Factors

Under some circumstances, moving to a new location may be necessary, as when a household member has accepted a new job.

There are other situations in which a new location may satisfy the client’s needs better than remodeling their existing home: 

  • More desirable neighborhood
  • Better quality schools for children
  • More convenient to work and shopping
  • Need for a larger house but no room for an addition to the current home
  • Need for a smaller house, especially for empty nesters
  • Desire for a larger or smaller yard, depending on lifestyle
  • Desire for a more affordable option


Those who move must be prepared to cover the cost of selling their current home and financing a new one. In many cases remodeling is less expensive than buying or building a new home. 

However, an extensive remodel can approach the cost of a new build, so clients must work closely with a contractor to avoid overspending. Remodeling and building usually incur unexpected expenses, so the budget must account for that as well. 

Every client will have unique circumstances that determine whether it makes more sense to remodel, move into an existing home or build a new one.

For clients who opt for a new build or remodel, contact Mid-City Lumber. Our experts will help you select the best materials for achieving the results your customers expect.