Remodel or Build New? Compare the Pros and Cons for 2021

If you’re thinking about moving to the Lake Norman area, you probably won’t find everything you want in one house. That means your options are to buy an existing home and remodel it the way you want or build a new home to suit all your needs. Which is better?

There are a lot of pros and cons to both options, so let’s look closer at remodeling vs. building new to help you decide which is the better option for you and your family.


Building a new home must cost more than buying an existing one, right? Not necessarily. Remodeling can be much more expensive than you might expect, so by the time you buy an existing home and remodel it to suit you, it may be more expensive than building a new home from the ground up.

According to Remodeling HW, here are the average costs in 2020 of some common remodel projects:

  • Minor Kitchen Remodel, Midrange $23,452
  • Bath Remodel, Universal Design $34,643
  • Roofing Replacement, Asphalt Shingles $24,700
  • Major Kitchen Remodel, Midrange $68,490
  • Master Suite Addition, Midrange $136,739

If you would consider spending more than $100,000 on adding a master suite to an existing home on Lake Norman, then it would probably be cheaper to build a house just the way you want.

Availability of LotsLake Norman waterfront

If you want to live on Lake Norman, the lot you choose is crucial. It may be nearly impossible to find a home you like on a lot you love. If location is important to you, you may be better off buying a lot and building new rather than trying to find a compromise between a location you love and a home you can live with.

Time to Build Vs Remodel

kitchen renovation mess

How long are you willing to wait for your dream home?

Remodeling isn’t as quick as you might think. Some remodeling projects can take months to complete (especially kitchens), and you might be stuck living in chaos and unable to cook for weeks on end. Still, this option will get you living on the lake sooner than building a new home.

On the other hand, it takes an average of 6 to 9 months to custom build a home. That’s a long time to wait, especially since you’ll be paying property tax, insurance, and financing charges on both your new home and current home during that whole time. However, you won’t have to deal with the stress of living through a remodel.

Maintenance of Older Homes

When you compare the cost of building a new home vs. buying and remodeling an existing home, you need to factor in the maintenance costs of older homes. If you build a new home, your roof, air conditioner, and other big-ticket items should be good for a decade or longer.

old home maintenance

If you buy an existing home, you might need to replace something every year or so. Those costs can add up over the first few years you own your home. Older homes also tend to be less energy-efficient, which means higher energy bills than you would have in a new home.

When to Remodel

Sometimes, it makes more sense to buy an existing home and remodel rather than to build a new home. For example, if you can find a home you like that only needs minor updating, it may make sense to remodel. Some cheaper (and more justifiable) remodeling projects include:

  • Flooring
  • Painting
  • Refinishing a small bathroom
  • Painting kitchen cabinets or swapping out countertops
  • Replacing a garage door

When to Build New

Sometimes, your needs are so specific that you’ll be hard-pressed to find them in an existing home and you’re better off building new. A few of those needs might include:

  • First-floor master suite
  • Mother-in-law space with kitchen and laundry
  • Zero entry showers or an easy to access tub

wheelchair accessible shower

Aging in Place Considerations

If this is your first or second home, you may not need to think about growing old. However, once you reach a certain age, you hope you’re buying your last house. Now is the time to consider what features you may need as you grow older. What types of things may help you stay in your home longer? That’s where things like the previously mentioned first-floor master suite come in handy.

If you plan to grow old in your home, consider building a home with no (or few) stairs, a zero-entry (no step) walk-in shower with a seat, and places to add grab rails.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about remodeling vs. buying new.

Which Is Cheaper: Remodeling Vs. Building New?

There is no simple answer to this question. There are a lot of factors to consider. While you can do some remodeling for under $5,000, other projects may cost more than $100,000. Building costs vary widely, especially as the economy and market changes. If you need extensive upgrades, building a new home may be the more economical option in the long run.

What Are Some Hidden Costs I Might Encounter Building a New Home?

There are a lot of small things that go into building a new home that you might not think about. Each “small thing” can add up to a massive cost you hadn’t considered. Here are some “hidden” costs some people forget to consider when building a new home:

  • Unforeseen site prep like septic tank issues or adding water lines
  • Landscaping
  • Window coverings
  • More or upgraded furniture
  • Driveway
  • Upgraded finishes
  • Appliances (don’t assume every builder includes appliances in the new home)
  • Random incidentals

Is it Better to Build New on Lake Norman?

Since Lake Norman was created between 1959 and 1964, that means many of the homes on the lakefront are several decades old. These homes tend to be smaller with fewer features than homes built today. You may be able to find and remodel a home on Lake Norman for a good price. But some homes are just too small or ill equipped to remodel. Many people buy the perfect lot, tear down the older home sitting on it, and build a custom home. This gives you the best of all worlds – the lakefront lot you love AND a custom designed home.

Ready to Build the Home of Your Dreams?

If you’re ready to build the home of your dreams on Lake Norman, contact us today. We’ll help guide you through the decision process of which option is best for you. You can email us at, call us at (704) 799-9982, or stop by our office at 181 W. Statesville Ave. Mooresville, NC 28115 Monday through Friday from 8 to 4:30.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *