These two people finally built a new house. There were good reasons for their decision. First, they could buy the land for so much money, and a general contractor of excellent reputation was ready to build just the house they wanted for so much more. The two figures, plus the architect’s fee, added up to a definite amount. Having an accounting mind, the knowledge that there would be no unforeseen contingencies and that, ready for occupancy, the cost of the house would be so much, was the deciding factor. In addition, he and his wife both inclined towards something new. A house that had not been lived in by other people, had no scars and marks of age and use, that embodied all the newest materials and construction methods, was really what they wanted. Had remodeling offered them an assured saving of several thousand dollars, this couple would probably have suppressed their subconscious leanings to be builders, proceeded to remodel, and been only moderately pleased with the result.
The answer to the age-old question of whether to build or to remodel is found in the preference of the individual. Some people are temperamentally builders. They are happiest living in a home that was constructed for them. In their eyes it possesses far greater charm than anything that has been mellowed by years of use. There are others to whom nothing is more satisfying than to take an existing structure and alter it to their liking and needs. An elderly acquaintance, now a widow and living in a sleepy New England village, is taking keen pleasure in an old house of almost doll-like proportions. “All my life,” she said, “I’ve wanted to live in a really old house but until now it has always been one new house or city apartment after another and I never got my roots down.”
Granted that building or remodeling, like cheese, is a matter of personal preference, it is not improper at this point to set forth some of the merits of both. With a fine old building, there is that elusive something called charm. Time has mellowed it and the countless feet that have crossed its threshold have worn its floors. The blackened bricks or stones of its fireplaces bespeak the generations that basked in the heat of the huge logs that once glowed there. All these things have given it character.
[Illustration: ONCE HALF A HOUSE AND A HEN ROOST
Photo by Whitney]
[Illustration: WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH A BARN
Photo by Samuel H. Gottscho. Robertson Ward, architect]
Don’t expect a new house, the day it is turned over to you by the contractor, to look as if it had been a family home for several generations. It can’t. It has just been built. Everything is fresh and shiny; edges are sharp and even the bricks of the fireplace are untainted by flame and smoke. But if you have been even moderately articulate, the architect has been able to interpret your wishes and you have a house built as near as possible to your plans. You also have the satisfaction of knowing that, in the building, the workmanship has been honest and thorough, and that in materials used every advantage has been taken of the newest developments.