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Residential architects who specialize in the hot, humid, southern climate

Do I stay or do I go?

Whether to renovate, rebuild or move in Beaufort County, South Carolina

The skills and expertise of your architect can help you in your decision to renovate, rebuilt or move. There are some great properties in Beaufort County with houses that are way past their prime and require such decisions. These houses often include; dated kitchens, small non-functional bathrooms with ugly tile, mean little windows overlooking a great view and rooms built below FEMA’s base flood elevation. Maybe you own one of these properties or are considering buying one for the view. Homeowners of older properties often come to the point where they have three options:

1. Renovate and/or add an addition to the existing house (and this might include raising the house),

2. Tear the existing house down and build a new house on the same property, or

3. Move.

     To help you decide whether you should stay or go, consider the following:

  •      Do you love the location?
  •      Do you have a great view?
  •      Is the house built above FEMAs base flood elevation requirements? If it is below you are  limited to spending 50% of the value of the house on the renovation or the          house has to be raised.
  •      Is the house built behind the current OCRM coastal or municipality river buffer setbacks? If your house is in the setback, you are not allowed to add any additional          square footage in the setback but you can keep what is there, which might be an advantage.
  •      Will current zoning laws allow you to add onto your house?
  •      Will you over-build for the neighborhood?

A few years ago, we had clients who owned a beach front house in Port Royal Plantation.  The property was in foreclosure when they purchased it at a great price, but it needed a lot of work. The question was should they tear the house down and build new or renovate the existing?

We listened to what they like about the house: besides the great location, they liked the feel of the spaces, the flow of the rooms and the relationship of the rooms to the ocean. Two other positive conditions were the first floor was above the required base flood elevation and the zoning allowed us to add the needed square footage. It was apparent that renovating the existing house and adding a small amount of square footage was the right approach. The project turned out beautifully.

Tearing down a house and starting over is a big step. The cost analysis of what is salvageable compared to the desired result is a good place to begin. Sometimes it is not obvious what the best path is at the beginning of a project or the conditions might change. For example, current Port Royal Plantation clients’ initial project was redesigning the windows in the great room. While documenting the existing conditions we discovered some structural beams in failure. In consultation with our clients and structural engineer we decided to reinforce the foundation.

Then Hurricane Matthew hit. There was water damage throughout the house; and the roof and foundation were compromised. After considering the amount of work to repair and renovate compared to starting over, our clients decided to build new. A big advantage in this project is the new house is placed to enhance the views of the Sound.