Friday, March 4, 2011

Modern Home Options, Build New, Rehabilitate or Remodel

You want a modern house but you quickly learn that your desire may be difficult to fulfill. If you want a modernist home, you are basically faced with three options; build new, rehabilitate an older modern home, or take an existing home and extensively remodel it to modern style.

The first and the most straightforward is to build a new modern home. For this option, you need a lot on which you can build, plans, a builder and financing. Seems simple enough, but it isn’t. The first problem may be the lot. In most municipalities, building lots are primarily controlled by developers. And typically, developers don’t want your modern house next to their standard offerings for a number of reasons. Your other choices may be an in-fill lot in an existing neighborhood, or find a lot with no restrictions or build in the country. All of these options may be valid; they may just take more effort on your part to locate. Plans are pretty easy to come by these days, either from a website such as  (yes, this is a shameless link to my own site) or have them created by a local professional. Builders are readily available too. But, finding a builder who won’t get in your pocket because you are building something a little different is another matter. Builders need to ensure they make a profit and are thus skittish about unusual buildings. So, they may increase their bid to account for the unknown. One way to reduce this problem is to find a builder who will work on a cost-plus basis in which they get an agreed upon profit margin for their services. This is typically a percentage of the total building cost. The last issue is financing. This too is pretty straightforward, it just may take a little work on your part to find a bank that is comfortable financing a modern home. Building new may be the easiest, but it may be the most costly of the three options.

The second option is to rehabilitate an existing modern home. I say rehabilitate rather than remodel because you are bringing the home back to life, not necessarily changing it. There are typically not a large number of older modern homes available on the market, but they do exist and they do come up for sale. 10 years ago, most of these could probably be purchased at a great price. But, with the resurgence in popularity of modern, prices have increased considerably. Beyond the purchase price, you have to consider what it will take to rehabilitate an older home to the condition you want. Like with most rehabilitations, you may have the pleasure of replacing any number of things, roofing, siding, flooring, cabinets, interior finishes, plumbing, electrical, insulation, etc. etc. etc…….. It can be fun, frustrating, maddening, and expensive, but it can be done successfully. As a bonus, many older modern homes have a unique feeling or atmosphere that is very difficult to reproduce in a new build.

The last option could be to buy a nice ranch in a nice area at a nice price and remodel it into a modernist style home. With this option, you would be making dramatic changes to the structure, style and finishes of the home. This too can be can be great fun along with great frustration and nearly limitless options. In order to improve the finished product, you might want to consult with a design professional. A benefit with this option is that it offers an opportunity to get what you want for possibly the least cost compared to the other two options. But, it is not an option for the timid or faint of heart.

So, being mindful of your choices and the pros and cons associated with each, go out and find or build the modern home you really want. Don’t settle for anything less, because you will never be as happy!

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