Should I move or renovate?

Morris Home Team - Should I move or renovate?


It all depends on your specific location on your street, and on the neighbourhood in general. If you love your house, the block you’re in, and the neighbours—and you can afford the stress and financial investment of renovating—go for it.


Fifty to 60 per cent of people would rather stay put and renovate, but it’s more stressful than selling and buying, no question.

Number one, renovating is frequently more expensive than moving. There’s always cost overruns; the average is 25 per cent. Very few contractors are within budget. It’s not primarily the contractor’s fault—stuff happens. It could be structural issues—e.g., the contractor didn’t know there was an issue in the wall and had to redirect a heating duct and cold air return—or availability of the materials, or a change of heart by the homeowner. Make sure you get a couple of quotes from reliable contractors in writing, and ensure that all the elements are covered, including design work, electrical work, plumbing, finishings, etc.

Number two, bear in mind there’s a lot of disruption— not everybody is cut out for living through a renovation. It’s a mess. You’re living with contractors day in and day out for weeks or months—sometimes up to a year or two. Owners often have to move out and rent somewhere.

There’s going to be stress whether you move or remodel. If you do choose to remodel, you should always make your renovation as mainstream as possible, because you never know…your circumstances could change and you may need to move sooner than you expected.

Too many people personalize their renovation, and they don’t recoup their costs.* You can always personalize paint and light fixture choices, but I’ve seen some additions where I just shake my head and say, “Why didn’t you call me before?”

People who choose to renovate may recoup their costs in 10 or 20 years, but if you’re trying to recoup within five or 10 years, you may be better off moving. To get an idea of whether your home improvements will pay off when you need to sell, there’s a simple formula: add the renovating costs to the value of your home. If that figure is more than 10 per cent higher than the average value of homes in your neighborhood, you are unlikely to recoup your costs, as you are “over-improving.” Buyers are unlikely to be keen to buy the most expensive house on the block if they can buy a home for a similar price in a neighbourhood with higher-priced properties.

If you do choose to move, look for a property that has the right layout, the right location and, of course, nice neighbours!