Yes,  I love the Clash….and many families, groups and companies face the question of moving vs. renovating or adding on.   The answer is based on many factors which include:

  • -Usability of the space in its new vs. present configuration
  • -How comfortable they are in the neighborhood
  • -Long vs short term usage
  • -Cost, not just construction cost , but moving, additional utilities, taxes, location-transportation, parking, education, insurance, rent, education impact, commuting impact etc
  • -Appearance
  • -Maintenance requirements
  • -Location/commuting impact in relation to work, schools, family, friends, or customers
  • -Regulations (i.e. do zoning regulations allow you do what you are intending to do)
  • -Gut instinct and advice from neutral sources who you respect

path with many choices Many customers rely too heavily on the cost paradigm and fail to look ahead as to the use.  Will they consider working from home? What is the likelihood of a long term guest, maybe an aging parent staying with them?

Are the costs of moving to a more affordable home, actually taking any extra 45 minutes to get to from work?  Is the school system you are placing your children into acceptable? Or will  you incur additional costs sending them to a private school?

The cost rule of thumb I’ve found to work this way: Construction cost commercial fitout @ $50-200/sf, carefully examine your lease and whatever “buildout allowances” are being provided by the Landlord.  Remember to include possible parking, weekend utility fees, related maintenance provisions,code upgrades etc.

Construction cost for residential construction I budget @ $150/sf for heavy renovation to $350/sf for new wood frame construction in Westchester County, New York in 2108. In NYC this can easily be double depending on the level of finish and complexity.

house under construction

So yes it can be quite expensive…..but consider… In lower Westchester county, given a town with good schools and a sub-60 minute commute to NYC, the cost per square foot for buying is roughly $400-800/sf. Do not forget the tax-man, as a rule of thumb your annual taxes will go up approximately $2500 per hundred thousand dollars of improvement.

So do the math, take a deep breath and try to imagine where you want to be in 5 years.  Good luck. Please feel free to call me to discuss your specific situation 914 674 2950.

Article by Steven Secon