Tear-downs have become increasingly popular options for prospective buyers in tight housing markets, such as the Greater Toronto and the Greater Vancouver areas. In fact, they are now so prevalent that Realtors often advertise the potential for one in MLS descriptions for houses for sale. We’re sure you’ve seen the call-out “Attention Builders!” in many home searches!
Buying a tear-down is often an effective way for first-time home buyers to get into their desired neighbourhood at a more attractive price point. They can also be an option for more experienced buyers to design the house of their dreams. But the process of buying, then rebuilding a property can be a lengthy and confusing one, so it’s essential to have an experienced home builder by your side.
Here’s what you need to know before buying a tear-down:
Choose your tear-down carefully
The process of buying a tear-down can be somewhat easier than buying a house you intend to live in, because it doesn’t really matter what the floors or kitchen look like, or how many rooms there are. In fact, the worse the interiors are, the better! That could even translate to a lower selling price. Yet, you still have to choose your tear-down carefully; look at lot-size, how close it is to neighbours, and any restrictions on rebuilding, for example, if it is a historic home.
Be patient and budget strategically
There’s no way around it: a tear-down is a huge project. It can take up to two years to complete a rebuild, so patience is a must. Start with realistic expectations about the time and cost involved, and make sure you can handle them before plunging in. The most important step you can take is to hire a trusted home builder and architect, who is experienced in getting permits from city hall, understands zoning regulations and allowable building footprint, and most of all — is reliable. They’ll guide you through the process and hold your hand when things go off-plan.
You may still need a home inspection
It’s easy to think that you can forgo a home inspection for a tear-down, but that could be a costly mistake. If you’re keeping any part of the property at all, such as the foundation or retaining walls, (which can sometimes make the permit process easier,) you could discover serious problems later that could blow your entire budget. “Just because a gut renovation will be performed, does not mean the property is risk-free,” says Terry Carson at Guardian Home Inspectors. It may also be worth your time to inspect the grounds to ensure you don’t need to remediate for designated substances in the soil.
Play nice with neighbours
There’s a tipping point in certain neighbourhoods – once enough tear-downs are bought and rebuilt, it can change the entire character of the area, and lead to resentment from neighbours.
It can be tempting to go avant-garde when rebuilding, but that may result in a lengthy battle with people that you should really be bringing apple pies to. It’s best to proceed with sensitivity. You can still build a contemporary home in a traditional neighbourhood that fits in nicely, without overshadowing other properties. Make sure to hire experienced home-builders to help plan your design carefully and make everyone happy.
The interior on the other hand is entirely up to you and where you can let your personality shine. Maybe you prefer the clean modern look commonly seen within Toronto condos, or perhaps the heavy, tasteful look of an English manor?
Take advantage of home automation
One of the most exciting things about a complete rebuild in 2018 is that technology has come such a long way. Clocks, speakers, lights, doorbells, cameras, windows, window blinds, hot water heaters, appliances, and even cooking utensils can now be controlled from any internet-connected device. This technology can provide homeowners with security, comfort, convenience and energy efficiency, and make you feel like you’re living in the future. You might as well build-in these features when remodelling.
Zoocasa.com is a leading real estate company that combines online search tools and a full-service brokerage to empower Canadians to buy or sell their homes faster, easier and more successfully. Home buyers can browse real estate listings on the website or the free iOS app.
Contact the Zoocasa team to help you find the perfect location, and then the team at Alair Homes Forest Hill can help you build the perfect home.