Remodel or Move?

Filed in Construction by on December 2, 2014

Before: Keeping the historic nature of this remodel was a primary goal for these homeowners.

Before: Keeping the historic nature of this remodel was a primary goal for these homeowners.

Your kitchen is small and outdated, but functional. You could use an extra bathroom for your growing family. An open floor plan with additional space does sound wonderful. And, you’ve always dreamed of that spacious master suite with your own private bath, walk-in closet and exterior deck. How do you decide if a renovation is worth the return investment? Will a move provide a more practical solution to your space needs? How do you weigh all the options and avoid the pitfalls?


Whether you remodel your existing home or choose to move, attaining the help of expert advice in the decision


After: The kitchen was previously separated from the former dining and is now an open-space design with new cabinetry, granite and ravishing red color scheme. Stahl Architects co-designed the remodel with Monica Hart Interior Design. Photography by Gilbertson Photography.

process may help avoid potential problems. Gaining an expert’s perspective will also bring peace of mind in making the right choice for you.


“Always begin by evaluating your space. Can we ‘repurpose’ any room or space that is currently underutilized? A fresh look at the space may reveal possible interior remodel opportunities, or even adding out or possibly up,” explains Kelli Wegscheid, AIA, principal architect and owner at Harmonious Architecture in Perham, Minn. “Most remodels involve opening up small, segregated rooms into an open design, more typical of new homes today. This allows greater flexibility, with abundant natural light and a feeling of spaciousness. Small kitchens, formal dining room spaces and boxy family rooms are outdated. Homeowners today prefer open spaces that promote relaxed atmospheres for more casual, connected living.”


But wait! Before you put on your safety glasses and prepare to swing the sledgehammer, it’s wise to think through the project with an experienced expert. When contemplating a remodel on your current home, there are definitely some structural and physical factors that will determine the extent of the project. If you are hoping to create an interior renovation or add on a second story, you need to begin first with an evaluation of your home’s foundation.


“Older lake cabins were not intended to become year round homes and may have limited foundations, if any at all. If a foundation is minimal, cracked or leaking, then spending money on a remodel is not the best route,” Wegscheid notes. “With outward expansions, city and county regulations need careful review, especially on backs and other areas that may limit new expansion. Once regional regulations are reviewed, rooflines and design features can be considered.”


Before Living Room

Before: Stahl Architecture Long Lake, MN Cabin Remodel – Interior shots of tiny cabin transformed to 2-story.

Besides the structural, physical and financial reasons to consider, there are a few additional reasons why renovating your existing home might be the best plan. Maybe you live on a farmstead, one rich in generational heritage. Perhaps you wish to remain in a historic character home that is not easily replicated or moved to another location. There might also be a host of emotional and sentimental reasons why a move is not in your best interest.


“Many rural families are third and fourth generation on their land, so their heritages are tied into their home. Each year we have many farmhouse remodels. Either older generations are fixing up for the next, or younger generations are adapting sensitively to their needs always respectfully,” Phillip Stahl, AIA of Stahl Architects states.


“Character homes are easier from our point of view,” Stahl continues. “The rules of time, proportion and historic details are set, different from the ranch, rambler and builder homes which have few rules. Remodeling

After: An interior remodel utilized the cabin's original footprint-and half again-making a perfect bridge from new to old. Design by Phillip Stahl. Photography by Bryan Wendland.

After: An interior remodel utilized the cabin’s original footprint-and half again-making a perfect bridge from new to old. Design by Phillip Stahl. Photography by Bryan Wendland.

the latter often proves more difficult to achieve the look a homeowner wants. And, many people love the memories in their home and choose to stay, regardless of need. Adapting to our homes seems more the norm today than buying and selling.”


Everyone knows that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, so what other remodel makeovers gain the greatest value? Open layout kitchens, dining space and family rooms, luxurious master suites, re-positioned stairways and hallways that provide smooth transition from room to room these are what today’s homeowners desire.


Finally, and perhaps most important when weighing all the options of a remodel or future move, consider your personal budget. Remodeling projects can uncover issues in uncharted areas that could increase the costs beyond the bounds of the budget. Preparing for these possible setbacks will keep your project moving ahead, instead of derailing it indefinitely.


“Education is the key,” Wegschied concludes. “Working with an architect defines the scope of work, creates a design solution and provides cost information. Once these are determined, informed comparisons and wise decisions can be made whether a move or remodel/addition is best.”




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