Expectations: Will I Get My Money Out of a Major Renovation Project?


Have you been debating building new vs. renovating your existing property; or buying a different property in an established location to renovate?

Do you wonder, “We don’t want to over-improve for our neighborhood.  If we decide to renovate, how much renovation value will return at resale?”

And then the popular question, “Is it feasible to buy a property, then tear-down the existing structure to build new?”

Classic Irvington Tudor Remodel - Front Elevation - Christopher Short, Architect, Indianapolis, HAUS Architecture
Front Exterior Elevation at Dawn - Modern Villa Urban Home, Old Northside, Indianapolis

Do you love your existing location, but could use some upgrades or additional amenities or enhancements?

Have you been scouring the for-sale marketplace to find something that better suits your lifestyle needs – but can’t find something meeting your specific criteria?

Do you wonder to yourself, “Is it more economical to build new or renovate?

These are all great questions.  As a matter of fact, we get similar inquiries every day from individuals considering their options and looking for expert advice.  So here we’d like to address some of the most common questions related to major renovations and renovation value.


New Build vs. Major Renovation

Generally speaking, it is often more economical to build new than complete a major renovation project.

Why?  For one, on a major renovation project, you may be spending money to demolish existing value.  So before starting the new renovation work, you have already spent money to reduce value to prepare for the new changes.

Modern Broad Ripple Craftsman Renovation Demolition - WERK Building Modern
Broad Ripple Craftsman Renovation - Infringement - WERK Building Modern - Derek Mills Paul Reynolds

Also, with a renovation project, you’ll have to work around existing conditions, which takes more thought, coordination, and time.  For sure, you’ll uncover some unforeseen circumstances during demolition that need attention.

However, assuming you are keeping most of the existing foundations, walls, and major structural elements, you’ll have a lot of pre-existing value that remains. 

So measuring purchase price/built-in equity + scope of the new renovation work vs. land + construction costs for a new build is a wise step. 

And of course, location is a major factor. If you love your location, and lifestyle decisions over-ride financial ones, maybe getting maximum ROI is not the driving factor.

Your expert Architect, with the help of Realtor comps, will be able to help outline your options efficiently to assist in your review.

Craftsman Style Home porch swing, historic front porch - This newly reconstructed Modern Craftsman-style home maintains the scale and character of the streetscape while taking its design + detail game up a notch in this newly reconstructed Broad Ripple Modern Craftsman Dwelling on Carrollton Avenue - Indianapolis, Indiana, Christopher Short, Architect, HAUS Architecture + WERK | Building Modern

TOPICS - Will you get your money out of a major renovation project?


Return on investment is an important consideration when deciding to pursue a major renovation project.

How much of your investment will you be able to recoup at resale?  How do you go about determining if the project is worth pursuing?

By all means, most of the projects included here on our website have been completed by clients who love their neighborhood/location, and intend to stay for many years.  They are interested in doing something special to meet their unique needs, and the solutions normally include a degree of customization. 

So by nature, a thoughtful, architect-designed project with some customization is going to cost more than a generic renovation project – and recoup more value.  These projects often end-up at the high-end of neighborhood comparisons. 

Of course by nature, these projects are also the newest, most up-to-date properties and by nature, worth more.

Once you turn the corner upon entry, panoramic lake-side view greets you in the wide-open kitchen, dining, living space - Modern Lakehouse Renovation - Clearwater - HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles - Christopher Short, Architect - Derek Mills, Project manager - WERK | Building Modern (Construction Manager + Custom Builder)
Lakeside Elevation - Lakeside Modern Cottage (H-LODGE) - Unionville, Indiana, Lake Lemon

Would these properties recoup the full investment if resold within a year?  Well, it only takes one person to love something enough to want it.  The better the location, the more it is likely.  The market “comps” will be the primary measuring stick initially. 

And from there, does the buyer appreciate the next-level design enhancements?  Or are the enhancements trendy and not to market taste?

We have many examples of how high-level architect-designed projects appraised and sold for more ROI than their generic counterparts

 Go or No?

How will you know if it’s worth doing the project?

As noted above, we’ll want to evaluate anticipated purchase price (or current equity) + anticipated renovation costs against comparisons in the area.   Where do you fall?  If you are near the top but love the location and intend to stay for many years, is it a go?  What if you are over?  By how much?  Or will you fall lower than other similar properties, thus making the “go” decision easier?

Is the project more about lifestyle and location, or more about recouping investment quickly?  Are you sure you’ll be there a long time as planned?  Or could your job  or other situation change unexpectedly forcing a relocation?

There isn’t a one-size fits-all answer.  Each circumstance needs evaluation and consideration of the options and possibilities against individual goals.


Expert Advice

This is where the team at HAUS can help. We have been helping our clients evaluate opportunities and execute projects for many years. 

And we’re always keeping up-to-date on the latest industry trends and technologies :).

If you are contemplating some of these questions and could use some experienced opinions and advice, please shoot us a message, and we’ll schedule a call!

Christopher Short (Profile Photo), Architect, HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles