What are the costs and benefits of undertaking an extensive renovation versus the construction of a new custom infill home? This is a conundrum or dilemma in which many homeowners in Ottawa’s established neighbourhoods find themselves after they receive preliminary quotations.

Let’s say you have resided long enough in your existing home to know its pros and cons. You have made the choice to stay within your neighbourhood. You would like to live virtually maintenance-free for a long time; but if you live in an older home, you know there are constant repair and upgrade requirements that are both time intensive and financially burdensome.

During the assessment phase of your current home, you will be advised by companies such as Revelstoke to establish a wish list based on your short, mid- and long-term requirements for you and your family in this home. There will be the obvious structural requirements that must be addressed. You cannot build onto or construct an addition, or remodel without the absolute basics − a solid, structurally sound foundation and wood-frame structure.

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There are comfort amenities found in new homes that would be very appealing – simple things, such as adequate closet space, a kitchen with form and function, large energy-efficient windows, etc. Ambient comfort is presumably very high on your list, too, because you prefer not to heat the exterior of your home during winter or air condition it in the summer. With your wish list in hand, you’ll contact an established, reputable and trustworthy company to obtain a quotation for the project requirements. Once the preliminary quotations are received, the cost-versus-benefit analysis calculation, comparing the renovation project with a new custom in-fill home, can begin.

“Should you renovate or start over?
A new custom in-fill home begins as a blank canvas for your ideas and lifestyle. And it could be more costeffective than renovating.”

Each established neighbourhood or area has its unique mitigating factors. The area was back-filled during its original period of substantial construction, with stone or rubble foundations and their associated requirements: basement head-height clearance issues, ease or lack of stairwell accessibility, sloping floor or ceilings – or both.

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Due to settling over time, insufficient electrical receptacles or amperage; lack of proper insulation; low performance windows and doors; existing kitchens and bathrooms lacking both up-to-date form and function; exterior cladding materials impacted by these above factors (and which may have been modified from the original design of the home by a previous owner), etc. All of this must be considered in the due diligence process to determine if a renovation or custom infill home is the correct way to proceed.

If the cost of replacing, rebuilding, or repairing a major component of the existing structure exceeds the value of the completed project, the renovation project should not be undertaken and a custom in-fill home project pursued.

For example, if the cost of replacing a deteriorated foundation is more than two or three times the cost of a brand new concrete foundation, a new custom in-fill home is probably very viable.

The lifecycle of your entire home must be taken into account and assessed: is your home at the end of its life cycle?

A new, custom in-fill home is your blank slate. Environmentally friendly, eco-green and sustainable construction materials and techniques can all be incorporated into it. Select an experienced design-and-build company or architect, and let the process begin.

As the design process begins, your selection of a1n experienced company to navigate the intricacies of municipal requirements to obtain a building permit – including the new In-Fill II guidelines – will become evident. These requirements or guidelines have to be considered with all costs, including, but not limited to, development fees, parkland levies, variance fees, construction costs, and so on.

A new custom in-fill home within one of Ottawa’s established neighbourhoods provides you with the best of all worlds: a great neighbourhood, with a low maintenance home, for the foreseeable future.