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    Buy vs. Renovation vs. Build, Part I: A Young Family Runs Out of Space

    Buy vs. Renovation vs. Build, Part I: A Young Family Runs Out of Space

    We hear over and over again from clients who are interested in our custom home program because they’ve looked into renovating their current home and said renovation was too expensive. Looking at our program, they realize they can get more home and more value for LESS MONEY.

    In 2014, we built a home for Dan & Sarah Bagley on their lot in Vienna. They, too, had gone down the road of renovation only to find out it was cost prohibitive and at the end of the day, still sitting on the original 1950’s rambler. Their story isn’t new (we hear it all the time) but it might be helpful if you too are considering renovating your existing home vs. building new.

    So friends, I’m happy to introduce you to Sarah Bagley, NDI Homeowner since 2014.



    My husband and I bought our 1958 rambler in Vienna, Virginia back in 2008 because it was the most house we could afford in our desired location. It wasn’t our dream home. But it was in a good location for our work commutes, good schools, a nice neighborhood.

    We always planned to do something else, we just weren’t sure what that else would be. We hoped and dreamed we’d be able to build a home. But that’s crazy, right?! Who builds a home? Only people who are independently wealthy! Not two young adults just starting out.


    Just under a year after we moved into our house, we welcomed our first child. And three years later, our second. And the walls were closing in! All their large plastic toys took up every inch of our living space. And the poorly laid  out living area wasn’t suited for life with small children.

    It’s a tale as old as time. Young family has more kids. And  suddenly they’re out of space.

    So we decided it was time to investigate other options.

    We considered three options:

    1. Purchase a slightly newer, larger home somewhere in Vienna (we wanted to stay in the greater Vienna area)
    2. Renovate our existing home
    3. Build a new home on our lot

    In considering these three options, we had a couple wish list items:

    1. Garage
    2. Master Bedroom and Bathroom with a large tub and shower
    3. Three additional Bedrooms
    4. Open concept first floor living space
    5. His and Her Home Office
    6. A good sized Kitchen with more than just one drawer (seriously, our old house had ONE drawer)

    Purchasing an existing, slightly larger, slightly newer home seemed like the most logical option. But quickly we realized several flaws in this plan.

    This was 2013. In 2013 in the Vienna area, finding a home between $600,000 and $900,000 was like finding a needle in a haystack. And if something did pop up, it went under contract. Fast. And here was the other thing: these homes still needed a lot of work.

    We were looking at homes worth nearly $1 million dollars that didn’t have garages, needed new roofs, had dying HVAC systems. Not to mention out-of-date kitchens and bathrooms. So, not much hitting that wish list.

    Everything in our price ranged needed some sort of renovation. We knew if we went with one of those homes, we’d spend all our money just buying the home. And then we’d have to wait several years until we could renovate.

    Feeling discouraged but not defeated, we decided to look into a renovation. We’ve seen dozens of pop tops and out-the-back renovations, so we figured, it can’t be that expensive!

    Stay tuned for Part II where we learn just how much that pop top would cost…

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