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Member Article: When to Tear Down, When to Add & Remodel, & When to Sell the Existing House in Miami

Submitted by Maria Luisa Castellanos, R.A., President of United Architects and a member of WCC.

So you are thinking about spending substantial money to add to and remodel your present house. But should you? Or would it be better to tear down the house and start over? What guidelines are there to make a decision?

You bought the house because it had a great view or you really loved the location. But the house is too small for your family or for the value of the land.  It looks dated and it’s not quite your taste.

What is the first issue that needs to be analyzed?
The first is the 50% rule.  It applies to houses in flood-prone areas.  The 50% rule is a Federal law, which says that if you design a “substantial” remodeling or addition for a house, then the ground floor of the house must meet the base flood elevation. A substantial remodeling is defined as an addition and/or remodeling which costs 50% or more than the cost of the existing house without the lot.

If you are in a flood-prone area, you may not be able to do the addition or remodeling you want.  For more on this read, http://bit.ly/2Ihf7Qg

What is the second issue that needs to be analyzed?
Is the house on septic tank or sewer line? Is it on city water or well water? If you are both on well water and septic tank, you must be on a very large lot to be able to make an addition.  If, however, you are on city water, you may be able to work with the State of Florida Department of Health to get the addition you want.

What is the third issue that needs to be analyzed?

The third is issue is less technical, and probably the most important. Is the existing plan something which can be easily added to or remodeled? Does the present plan work? Once you locate the new addition, will the existing roofs still work with the new space? Homeowners often think they can add to any side of the house without any consideration for the roofs. This is not true.  Consider the roof slopes.

Before considering an addition, does your present house have wasted space?  It is more economical to redesign existing space than to add new space.

Consideration of these three issues will go a long way to giving you clues on whether to tear down and start over, sell the house, or to actually add to the house or remodel.

Maria Luisa Castellanos, as a registered architect and Realtor, helps professionals analyze their present homes and business spaces to make the best use of them, designs new spaces for them, or helps them make purchasing decisions on new commercial buildings.

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