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Trying To Decide Whether to Remodel or Build New? Get Advice From Architecture Experts in Kansas City

by Hoke Ley

Outgrowing a home can be a beautiful thing. Perhaps you’ve expanded your family and require a playroom and a backyard. Or maybe your new dream job has you working from an in-home office that doesn’t quite exist yet. Whatever the reason for expanding your homestead, when it comes to deciding whether to remodel or build new, there’s no easy answer.

At Hoke Ley Architecture & Design, we understand better than most how important a home is. With a combined experience of over 50 years, we follow a credence that architecture is more than an art—it’s a service. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help you decide between renovating the existing structure of your home or building an entirely new place to live!

Remodel or build new? | Primary considerations

When deciding whether to remodel or build new, you’re going to want to look at three major factors. Watch as Katie Hoke, one of the principal owners and architects of Hoke Ley, discusses these factors. Then, keep reading to get a better understanding of what you should do: remodel or build new.


1. Location

Oftentimes the biggest reason one decides to remodel instead of build new is because of the location. Whether it’s the school district, the neighbors, or the grocery store next door that’s keeping you there, if you just simply can’t live anywhere else, then you may consider a remodel. 

Alternatively, if you’re not the biggest fan of your location, building new gives you the opportunity to choose a new neighborhood, or move to a different location in the city that is more fitting for your needs.

You can, of course, tear down and rebuild an entirely new structure on your same plot. That would give you the benefit of staying put, but it still wouldn’t change your plot size. If you plan to go significantly bigger, keep in mind that you might have also outgrown the size of your property. Building new gives you the opportunity to buy land to build on that suits your needs. 

2. Bones

We’ve all heard the expression “a house with good bones” before. But what exactly does that mean?

Essentially, the bones are what makes a house sturdy and valuable regardless of any aesthetic appearance. A renovation can give you the cosmetic changes you desire with very little issue. However, if you’re looking to make structural changes to the home, the success of the remodel depends on how sturdy the foundational aspects of the home are. 

If there are existing problems with the foundational structure of the house, those problems are not likely to go away with a remodel. At least, not without a considerable budget and generous timeline. We recommend getting a detailed assessment of the home from a professional home inspector or architect who can determine whether or not your house has “good bones.” Here are a few of the things you might look out for during this assessment. 

The foundation

The foundation of the home is, of course, one of the most important aspects. If yours has a faulty foundation, that’s going to be a huge (and likely costly) overhaul during a renovation, and may well turn into a new build regardless. 

On the other hand, a house with a sturdy, well-built foundation is on the road to being a great candidate for a remodel. 

Some signs that your foundation may be unstable include: 

  • Cracks in the walls, floors, ceiling, and near windows
  • Doors that stick and are difficult to open or close
  • Slant in the floorboards
  • A leaning chimney

Floor plan

Revisions to the floor plan are sometimes tricky during a remodel. Let’s say you’d like an open floor plan instead of the separate rooms your home currently has. This doesn’t always have to be complicated, but if you’ve got weight-bearing walls that can’t come down, then an open floor plan might not be accessible—at least not without paying a lot of money for structural changes. 

If your goal is to completely change your floor plan, you would most likely benefit from building entirely new. This would give you the freedom to execute your new home with architects who can design the floor plan of your dreams

Before meeting with an architect for a remodel, you should consider:

  • The flow of your home
  • What rooms you use the most and the least
  • The orientation of your home and its windows
  • The size of each room and how you use it


In terms of utilities, these are some questions you need to keep in mind when deciding whether to remodel or build new:

  • How old is the house?
  • How old are the utilities?
  • Do you plan to change the location of the kitchen or any bathrooms?
  • How is the water pressure of your showers?
  • Does the plumbing work well?

These questions may help you realize that with a remodel inevitably comes the need to redo the sewer and the water lines if your house is relatively old. There’s no reason to spend time and money on a cosmetic enhancement without investing in upgrading your home’s existing infrastructure. These additional changes can really hike up the prices and draw out the timeline on a remodel. 


Inadequate drainage can wreak havoc on a house. If your basement floods often or if you notice leaks and water damage on the ceilings and around doors, your house may suffer with drainage issues. 

A remodel can potentially fix minor drainage problems, but if your home lies on a sloped lot or in a natural flood zone, you may consider building new in a different location. 

3. Timeline and cost

These two factors can often make the most difference when it comes to deciding whether to remodel or build new. 

The sheer volume of work for a new build gives it a longer timeline. Typically, a full new build takes anywhere from 24 to 30 months. This usually includes 12 to 18 months of construction time preceded by design time. 

The design process timeline can vary based on the complexity of the structure. As the design becomes more complex, the budget increases as well. If you’re buying new land to build on, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of the land and of bringing in utilities.

Alternatively, as a general rule, a remodel is going to be less expensive and take less time than building a new home. But it’s not always so cut and dry. A partial remodel, like a kitchen or a bathroom, usually takes from 3 to 6 months. A more complicated renovation may take longer, and some can take the same amount of time as a new build.

Another cost to consider with a remodel is accommodations. We highly recommend staying somewhere else for the duration of a full-home remodel. If you decide to stay home, be prepared for a big change in your day-to-day lifestyle. If being away from your home is not an option, building new while you continue to live in your current space is likely the best option for you!

Related → How to Choose a Contractor 

Remodel or build new? | Remodel

At the end of the day, your home is the most important place in your life. If you’ve made memories in your current home that you’re not ready to part with, then consider a remodel. Expanding your current home has tons of advantages.


  • You can stay in the same location
  • You’ll add value to your home while fixing problems that make your home less than ideal for your lifestyle
  • Can be more cost-effective than building new


  • You may have to move out for the duration of the remodel
  • There’s lots of labor involved
  • The placement of the structure on the plot of land can’t change

Before and after of our mid-century modern remodel.

Remodel or build new? | Build new

Building new is likely the best option for those who are craving an entirely new design. Going with a new build gives you the freedom to explore new design choices, directional placement of the house, and many other factors!


  • Total control over the design specifications 
  • Can include eco-friendly building materials
  • Choose the placement of the house on the lot


  • Typically a longer timeframe
  • Requires a larger budget 
  • The pre-construction process can be more involved 

Still not sure if you should remodel or build new? Schedule a consultation with us!

Working with an architecture firm in Kansas City for your remodel or your new build gives you unique insight and insider guidance. Having someone on your team who understands not only design and architecture, but codes and zoning regulations, local ordinances, and other folks in the industry can give you some much needed peace of mind. 

Hoke Ley Architecture & Design is a team of nimble, capable architects and designers who are committed to making your dream a reality. We combine function and aesthetics to create beautiful and meaningful commercial and residential spaces. We are headquartered in Lawrence, KS, with offices in Kansas City, MO, and Manhattan KS, and we commonly work with clients all over the country!

If you’d like some in-person advice on whether to remodel or build new, schedule a consultation with us. We can take a look at your property and your plans and help you make an informed decision about your future goals. We can’t wait to get in touch with you!

Contact us now