Should I destroy the house and rebuild it or renovate it??

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Posted by: from Sherbrooke
6/19/2012 at 9:42:43 AM

My house was built in 1946. It is a small veteran house. It has no basement. The concrete foundation is crumbling and need to repair it. And in the attic, it is not ventilated properly, there are some hold. In the basement, wood beams under the floor are starting to rot and need to repair it as soon as possible. And we will need to change the window and the roof also.

Is it still better to do all the repairs we need to do than building a new one here after demolish the current house??

And even with all the repairs, I don't think we will be able to put second floor. I don't think it is possible with old walls and all.

Can somebody give me an idea?

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Date/Time6/19/2012 at 10:40:21 AM

Hi Robin,

In the case you have described you are far better off knocking the house down and building new.

While the walls will quite likely be adequate for a second storey, the footings (if any) and the crumbling foundation will most surely not be.

If you are going to the extent of repairing and underpinning an existing foundation and then reframing at least a large portion of the structure which will require demolishing existing finishes to then reroof and replace the windows, you are essentially building a new house except you are adding an immense amount of non-value added labour to work around the existing structure and will end up with a structurally sound, horribly inefficient (from an energy standpoint) house.

It would be faster and most likely less costly to start from scratch and the energy benefits and opportunities new construction offers have not even been factored in yet.

Having said all of that, be very careful in checking with your Municipality as to what you will be permitted to build. Zoning by-laws change over time and while an existing structure is "Grandfathered" meaning it is permitted because it exists, loses all of those privileges once it is knocked down or substantially altered.

Check with the City first to establish things such as Set backs, Coverage, Gross Floor Area, Maximum height, etc. before starting to pay for design services. This will let you know exactly what you CAN build if you knock down your existing home.

If this raises more questions, post them on this site, with many experienced contractors on the system, you can get them answered and go into your project with the most valuable tool of all...knowledge.

Hope this answers your question and best of luck.


Jason Irving

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Robin in Sherbrooke
Date/Time6/19/2012 at 10:57:45 AM

Thank you so much for your advice.

It is very nice to know all those informations you gave.

And still a lot to think about...

Once again, thank you so much.

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Date/Time6/19/2012 at 11:34:25 AM

When it comes to retrofitting older homes with numerous trades you are generally paying double what you would pay from new construction.

Retrofitting older homes means protecting the existing elements. i.e. floors, structure, personal belongings etc.

Nobody likes to demolish their history but in this case I feel that your costs would be almost the same to start fresh versus retrofitting.

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Date/Time6/19/2012 at 12:27:03 PM

Cheaper to build new

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Date/Time6/19/2012 at 12:30:04 PM

Hi robin,

In your case it sounds like tear down is the best option. A crumbling foundation doesn't sound good, especially if your looking for a second storey. Sherbrooke is a nice, mature area and a new house would fit in great.

I am a general contractor in the process of a tear down and rebuild as we speak. The market for tear downs and rebuilds in the city are huge right now. From a financial prospective, I think you will get the most bang for your buck. Even just the savings you will get from having up to code insulation and energy systems make it worth it.

I hope I answered your questions, if you have any more don't hesitate to ask.



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Date/Time6/19/2012 at 12:32:34 PM

Hello matter which direction you go it will be a lengthy process and be prepared for each phase to take longer then you hoped for. And no matter which way you go you will need approval from your local planning and building authorities. I would talk to them about your options before going any further ...for example if renovating does the zoning permit a second storey...if building new can you put in a full foundation ? house size and height limitations ?

If you do not add a second storey then I would think renovating will prove more cost effective particularly because if it is planned well you should be able to stay in your home during the work .... although you may not want to because of construction noise and mess..

Building new will certainly result in a superior built home, more energy efficient, provide freedom to design in features you want and provide years of maintenance free living afterwards. It may cost more going new but it will also provide for a much higher resale price if the future.

Best of luck which ever way you go.



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Date/Time6/19/2012 at 1:40:14 PM


Honestly, I would have to look at the house completely myself to know a for certain answer for you. However, the work you are describing is possible to do and may be cheaper in the long run to do all the repairs rather than bulldozing the house and dealing with building from scratch.

I guess what I would suggest to you is to weigh your options. Do you have sentimental ties to the house? Do you love the charm and character of the house as it is? Is it the neighborhood and neighbors that you are attached to or the house? Are you more comfortable building your dream home from scratch on the property instead? After you have decided what is the most important parts of the house/property for you, then you can ask yourself; How much am I willing to spend? A new house built from scratch could cost you anywhere from $300,000.00 - $750,000.00 and up. Plus you would have the demolishing and disposal fees on top of that.

Without seeing the property and doing a proper quote for you a guess at renovation costs is very difficult but with all the things you mentioned and the image in my mind of the size of the house I would say that to totally renovate the entire thing and clear up all the problem areas including electrical and plumbing (because these things almost always need to be updated in older homes) you are probably looking at between $100,000.00 - $250,000.00 but the higher end number may give you the second story that you mentioned as well.

Good Luck on your renovation or new build, whichever you decide. If you would like a proper quote I would be happy to give you one. We do free estimates.

Thank you,

Sherri & Dustin Depatie

Seamless Finishing Inc.

Office : 780-760-3852

Sherri : 780-297-0986

Dustin : 780-885-2231

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