Lead carpenter at BLB Design / Build working on a mudroom addition project in Newburyport, MA

Pros and Cons of Renovating an Old Home

There’s nothing like the charm of an old home. Old homes have so much character and history. It’s hard not to fall in love with all the little design details and craftsmanship that went into building them. Here in the Northshore of Massachusetts, there’s no storage of old houses. Some homes in Newburyport go back as far as the 1600s! However, while we love the character an old house brings, sometimes it needs to function appropriately for today’s modern family. Deciding on whether you want to renovate or not is a big decision. Here are some pros and cons if you’re on the fence about entering a construction project.

Photography by Freebird Photography

PRO: Improve The Value Of Your Home

One of the biggest pros of a home renovation is increasing the value of your home. With the right improvements, you could add tens of thousands of dollars to your listing price if you decide to sell down the line. Projects that generally give you the highest ROI are additions, finishing basements, new windows, and adding a deck or porch. These are all things that are usually missing from older homes. If you know this house isn’t your forever home but want to make updates, a kitchen or bathroom remodel is an excellent short-term investment. These two spaces are what will attract future buyers the most.

CON: Costs Are High

Conversely, the biggest con is that a renovation is a significant expense. Not only is the cost of construction work and materials itself expensive, but when working on old houses, you are bound to find surprises that need to be addressed, like rot or termite damage. Plus, we are still dealing with supply chain issues in a post-pandemic world, which can increase costs. You may also not make your money back in the long run, especially if the work isn’t top-notch. One way to help diminish these concerns is by choosing a quality construction team that will give you the most accurate estimate possible at the start and whose craftsmanship is exceptional.

Second story addition by BLB Design / Build in Newburyport, MA

Photography by Freebird Photography

PRO: You Don’t Have to Move

It happens all the time, especially here on the Northshore. You bought the house for its vintage charm, but realistically, it doesn’t function properly for your modern lifestyle. Or you may love your location and neighbors but are starting to outgrow your home. Whatever the reasoning, you now face a decision: renovate or move. If you truly love where you live, one of the most significant benefits of a renovation is that you don’t have to move. You can have the house of your dreams without the moving truck and boxes.

CON: Construction Takes Time

While you don’t have to move, a renovation project does take time. Depending on your project’s scope, this could mean several months to a year before you get your house back. Being inconvenienced for so long can seem like a daunting prospect. That is why proper planning and scheduling are crucial to a successful remodel. When hiring your renovation team, check their references and see how well they stay within their estimated timeframe. Remember that no matter how successful a team is at staying within a schedule, any changes to the scope once construction has started will delay your estimated finish time.

Second story addition project in Newburyport, MA by BLB Deisgn / Build

Photography by Freebird Photography

PRO: Energy Efficiency

Renovations are a perfect opportunity to make your home more energy efficient. If you’re already opening up walls, take the time to increase your home’s insulation efficiency and HVAC efficiency. You could also add a sustainable energy source like solar to the mix. According to ENERGY STAR®, a federally backed program that promotes energy conservation through more innovative technology, owners of an average 1970s to 80s-era house in Massachusetts could save an estimated 12% to 16% on their annual utility bills by upgrading their home sealing and insulation. Making your home more energy efficient will not only help save you money, but it is also a great ROI. In today’s market, more and more home buyers are looking to find sustainable houses.

CON: Regulatory Issues

New building codes in Massachusetts could make a renovation more costly than anticipated. If you’re undergoing an addition of over 1,000 square feet, the whole addition needs to be built to the new energy code. If you’re renovating your home and it exceeds 50% of its square footage, you must bring the entire house up to code. While being energy efficient is, as previously mentioned, a pro in the long run, it can be a deterrent if you don’t have the finances for your original renovation, plus bringing the entire home up to code. If this is the case for you, we suggest doing your renovation projects in stages to avoid paying for more work you didn’t plan for.

Living room addition at the Littles Farm whole home remodel project in Newbury, MA by BLB Design / Build

Photography by Freebird Photography

PRO: Customize Space & Update Style

Old houses are great, but they often don’t function to support today’s modern wants and needs. Another pro of choosing a home renovation is customizing the space to fit your style and needs. Are you a wine enthusiast? Consider adding a dedicated bar area with a wine fridge. Do you love to entertain? Create an open-concept living room and kitchen with a large island for gathering. Want to brighten up the entire space? Add new windows or go with a lighter paint palette. The possibilities when designing your dream home are endless. Renovations also allow you to replace out-of-date styles and bring your old house into the 21st century.

CON: Your Style May Not Be For Everyone

While getting the exact style you want in your home is fantastic, future home buyers may not share your taste, making it more challenging to get a good return on your investment. If this is your forever home, it may matter less if you want to go out of the box on style and design. However, if you only plan on living there for the next 5-10 years, it’s wiser to reign in your wild ideas. Unfortunately, this could mean not getting what you want precisely. In this case, deciding what to renovate will depend on your priorities.

So, is remodeling an old home worth it?

The answer all depends on your circumstances. If you have the time and money to make it happen, a renovation is a great solution to get everything you want in your home. If you find yourself in a more challenging position to make a renovation work, consider starting with smaller projects and doing one room at a time. It may take longer, but this way, you’re still making progress on creating your dream home.

Ready to start your home renovation? Connect with us and see how we can help!