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Should We Stay or Should We Go?

As the spring real estate market kicks into gear, housing prices in Greater Boston are at an all time high. Increasing demand, coupled with stubbornly low inventory, has created an often frenzied, highly competitive buyers’ market. Frustrated by it all, many J. Schwartz Design clients – looking for more space to accommodate their growing families – are wondering whether it makes sense to stay where they are and renovate or add on instead of picking up and moving to a larger home, often in another city or town.

Our clients loved their Cape, but they wanted both more room inside and improved outdoor space. JSD worked with them to add two new wings to the existing house. The renovation not only created more indoor space but also embraced and defined a new outdoor living area. They are thrilled with the results!

Our clients loved their Cape, but they wanted both more room inside and improved outdoor space. JSD worked with them to add two new wings to the existing house. The renovation not only created more indoor space but also embraced and defined a new outdoor living area. They are thrilled with the results!

In many cases, a thoughtful, well-designed renovation or addition can be a wise lifestyle choice. It may or may not save you money versus purchasing a larger house (or condo), but it may produce the perfect home, custom-designed to how your family lives. It will also allow you to stay in a neighborhood you know and love for all it has to offer.

Our clients often ask us if we think a major renovation or addition will be “worth it.” As architects and interior designers, it is our role to probe and ask them what they mean by “worth it.” Our clients often can’t articulate exactly what they mean, but, as we dig deeper, it always comes down to more than just dollars and cents. There are many factors to consider. Here are just a few:

Financial Considerations
Every “custom tailored home” is different, as different as the clients they are designed for. Financial factors are a key part of the stay-or-go decision, and it is important for your architect and design/build team, along with a trusted real estate professional, to help you sort out the money: What could we sell this house for today, as is? What would a new house, with all of the space and features we want, cost to buy? What would a bespoke custom renovation/addition to our house cost? If it would cost more money to stay, would it be “worth it?” The psychic returns of staying and reinventing your house can sometimes outweigh, or far outweigh, the additional financial cost, if any.

Neighborhood
You likely moved to your neighborhood for its ambience, housing stock, schools, friends, parks, shops, restaurants, walkability and cultural offerings, not to mention its proximity to where you work. It has been a constant in your life. If you love it, why leave it?

Your Lot, The House’s Site
Location, location location. Is your lot desirable? Does it provide adequate privacy? How is the house sited on it? Does it let natural light shine into your house throughout the day? What are the setback and any footprint to lot ratio limitations? What types of trees and plantings have established themselves? How vertical or horizontal is the terrain? What are the neighboring houses like? Is your house the nicest on the street, or is there room to improve it?

Historic or Architectural Significance
Is your house or condo in a historic district? Will you be beholden to restrictions to closely adhere to its architectural style, or will you and your architect be able to create something unique and cutting edge? Either way, is this important to you?

Space Considerations
What kind of space are you hoping to gain? Things we often hear:

  • A bigger, more open kitchen
  • A family room that our family and friends will truly use
  • Outdoor spaces that are both practical and beautiful
  • More bedrooms
  • Another bath(s)
  • An office or “away space”
  • A functional mudroom
  • A real dedicated, laundry room
  • A more functional garage
  • A guest wing
  • Better flow throughout the house

A home that meets our lifestyle and makes us happy every day!

Choosing whether to stay or go is never an easy decision. Talk to us and perhaps we can help you sort out what’s right for you and your family.

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