We used to get asked this question a lot and for some reason, it has come again on a few occasions. I would never build on an existing foundation, and this is why…
Reason #1 Old Foundations Are Old
Why would you want to risk the integrity of your brand new home? Even if you could have the the existing foundation “certified” by a structural engineer, there is is still potential for issues. The existing foundation is built for the existing home not for a new (and likely bigger) structure on top. Do you have issues with your current basement? Most older homes weren’t built with modern technology like draintile systems (keeps ground water from getting inside) which means the basement isn’t protected from water infiltration (very bad). And it is unlikely that any part of the old home would be covered under warranty by the builder. Why would you want your beautiful new home sitting on an old foundation that isn’t covered for structural issues?
Reason #2 Time & Money Savings Are Minimal (If Any)
One of the biggest misconceptions of building on an existing foundation is that you will save time (in the permit process) and money (you won’t have to pour all new foundation). This couldn’t be further from the truth. Regarding the time you will save during the permit process…nothing, I mean nothing is easy to get permitted. And even if you are saving a portion of the existing foundation, you will still have to go through much of the same process as you would with a complete rebuild. Regarding the money you will save…when you alter the existing footprint of the old house, you will still have charges to expand and tie in the existing foundation. If you save any money here it will be minimal and ultimately those dollars will be lost in your overall investment (see Reason #3).
Reason #3 (For The Love), Protect Your Investment
If you build on an existing foundation, you cannot market your new home as new. It will always be a remodel. If you keep any part of the existing house, it is still a remodel. This will hurt the value of your home and a portion of the money you’ve sunk into the remodel will be lost because you never get a full return on those dollars. Remodels are worth less than new construction.
If you are considering a whole house remodel, you should really consider tearing down your existing home and rebuilding. You will likely spend less money, it will likely take less time and in the end you will have a beautiful new home (with a full warranty on the entire home) that is worth more than what it cost you (not the other way around).
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