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Portland Design Build Remodeling Blog

Remodel, Move or Buy New: How to Decide

Posted by Lane Cooper on May 6, 2020 9:29:00 AM

You’ve got a home that you aren’t happy with, and you’re trying to make the best decision to solve it. It’s a common problem that most homeowners will deal with more than once in their lives. This is where you have to choose between remodeling and moving. The right choice minimizes your stress and maximizes your investment. Here are several factors to consider as you decide.

Project Needs

Many homes have a good structure and overall design. These properties have a lot of potential, especially for homeowners with a plan and an excellent remodeling company. Other homes have serious structural problems or are too far outside your expectations to rescue. Your decision to stay, go or start over begins first with a thorough examination of your project needs.

Make a rough plan for what you want to have in order to last the next 10-15 years. Keep in mind that you may not do all your remodeling work at once, but you should have a general idea of where you’re going. The last thing that you want to do is invest years of smaller projects into a home that you already know won’t meet your needs.


Everything related to homeownership costs money, time or both. It’s best to think about your options as an investment in your financial security, your comfort or your long-term stability. Figure out how much you’ll need to spend to get the kind of home you expect. Remember to include expenses you might not think about, such as:

  • Living in a different place while your home is remodeled
  • Searching for and buying a different property
  • Hiring a professional to sell your existing home
  • Moving, even if it’s just a few miles away

In most cases, remodeling is the most budget-friendly option. It also usually requires the least amount of your own time.

NEW! Download the 2020 Portland Home Remodeling Cost Report [PDF]

Custom Options

Anyone who buys a home currently available on the market isn’t going to get exactly what they had in mind. Perfect homes are like stars in the sky: They’re all different and they’re only perfect to a few people. Everyone else is going to have to customize it in another way. Remodeling, even if you plan to buy a home and then perform some upgrades, is one of the best ways to ensure that your design meets your expectations in every way. You don’t have to compromise, and you can expand your home out to the limits of the property and your budget.

Future Plans

In all cases, your choice depends on what you intend to do in the future. You’d need to be psychic to know for sure what will work best for you in the next several years, but anyone can make an educated guess. Imagine your life in 5 years, and write down how you imagine using a home in that time. Now do the same for 10 years and 15 years. How do you see your needs changing? The right answer relates to where you are in your life as well as your general habits.

For example, it often makes more sense to build onto a smaller house than it does to knock down a larger house just to put a smaller one in its place. Someone who truly needs to downsize may want to move, where a homeowner who wants to age in place might prefer to remodel.


Every project has its own timeline, and so do you. Think about the kind of wait you can manage while your remodeler puts your dream into action. Building a custom home from start to finish takes several months, which may be longer if you need to knock down and remove an old house on the property first.

Buying another home and relocating usually takes at least a month, but probably more like 2-3 months from start to finish. Remodeling is highly variable. Upgrading a bathroom or kitchen when you aren’t changing the existing layout might require a few weeks or less. A whole-house remodel may take months, depending on its size and scope.


You probably know that location is one of the best determiners of future value and use out of a particular property. If you’ve already got that location and it would cost you big to give it up, why would you? That’s a great indicator that you should try to remodel your existing home, or at least stay on the same lot. But if this is your starter home and you’re ready to move up to something bigger and better, a different location might be just the ticket to ensure your home can continue to meet your needs years into the future.

Remember that you can always customize your new home to suit your ideas, even if (and perhaps especially if) you buy a fixer-upper that needs tons of work.

Housing Market

When you’re itching to list your home and move into something else, it’s good to get a sense for what you can expect from that process first. While the sale of real estate and the remodeling industry are both affected by the condition of the local housing market, it plays out in different ways. If your neighborhood is a hot commodity and you could command almost anything you want with a high likelihood of success, selling might be an excellent choice. But if the market is cool and you’ve seen the same “For Sale” signs on your street for months, it may be a less-practical decision. After all, your ability to buy or build a new home usually depends on your being able to sell the one you have.

Insurmountable Obstacles

In the beginning, it’s often fun to dream big and plan out your palace in real life. In practice, it’s not always that simple. Remodelers like the experts at COOPER Design Build would love to tell you that you can have anything you can imagine. But since that’s not always the case, it’s important to confirm that you can actually get what you want from your existing property. This means that you have to consider the footprint of the house, the layout of the lot and zoning regulations. Sometimes, it’s the city or the county that stands in the way of your dream remodeling project.

Practical Solutions

When homeowners get stressed about the layout of their existing homes, it’s tempting to think about moving somewhere else as the best long-term solution. And while this might be true on occasion, it can also be a pretty complicated and expensive answer. Before you make a choice, it is important to think about all your options. If you need to keep your investment of time and effort down, remodeling is probably your best bet. If the property you have can’t grow with you, then it’s likely time to think about moving. When you’ve got big expectations and you’ve been waiting to fill them until the right moment, that’s a good time to consider a custom home.

Feeling that your home is perfect for you won’t be like a dream. You can make it real by deciding if you want to remodel your house, buy another house or build something from scratch.

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Topics: Custom Home, Planning a Remodel