Where a house requires minor changes that qualify merely as renovation, the architect’s work is, of course, much simpler. Extensive preliminary sketches are unnecessary, and complete floor and elevation plans not required. But architectural investigation, planning and supervision, as stated before, are highly desirable if not essential. His fee is usually the same ten per cent as applies for new construction. There is less actual plan drafting but the amount of supervision is so much in excess of that required for new construction that such a charge is by no means unreasonable. Besides, the owner has the assurance that all changes and new installations will be done properly with no glaring errors of judgment to mock him as he settles down to life in his country home.
“Shall I build or remodel?” is a question with so many facets that it would be foolhardy to try to answer it categorically. Circumstances alter cases in all phases of life and particularly so when one is endeavoring to decide whether the country home is to be a new structure, or an old one remodeled to make the best use of its desirable features and suit the requirements of its new owner.
One of our acquaintances was hung on the horns of this dilemma for several months while he and his wife spent most of their waking hours arguing it pro and con. They had selected the vicinity in which they wanted to live, had the requisite cash in the bank to finance either undertaking, and there were two properties that pleased them. The latter constituted the snag. On the one hand, there was a sightly piece of land with some nice old shade trees but no existing structure; about a mile farther along the same road, lay another holding of about the same size with a house in fair condition. The price for this was naturally higher than for the undeveloped land, on the theory that it would not cost half as much to remodel the house as to build.
“I don’t know what to do,” this perplexed man remarked. “On one side I hear and read that new building is much the best investment. That it costs so much less to maintain a new house and if you want to sell, you can find a purchaser quicker and at a better price. But no sooner do I begin to believe that building is the only wise course, than I run smack into an article on remodeling or meet some one I know whose experience in remodeling shows by actual figures a big saving compared with a new house of the same kind and size. In my own case, though, the more I study what estimates I can get, the more I am convinced that in the end I’ll spend just about as much whether I build or remodel.”