Is It Better to Renovate Your Home Or Build a New One?

Is it better to renovate or build a new home? That’s a good question.

If you’re looking at an older home to renovate, you have to consider expenses. Would it be cost effective to renovate the house or would it make more sense to just build a brand new one? What are some of the factors that would influence your decision?

Consider the Foundation

Home's Foundation

First, how’s the foundation? Older homes were built long ago when construction techniques were different than they are today. Therefore, your foundation might not meet the standards of today. If you have a basement, it might need all new wiring, heating and ventilation– and these are just the basics. Oftentimes, the really older homes– from the late 1800s or early 1900s for example– are just so old that it’s more cost effective to build a brand new home and start fresh. However, if it’s a home from, say, the 1950s onward, it might make sense to renovate. One thing to consider in particular is the land the house is built on– is it prone to flooding? Is your foundation cracked or sinking? Are your floors level or not? Sometimes the land a house is built on is just not a “good fit” for a home and it behooves you to move and start over in another location. But, for most people, the land below the house is stable and renovations, if not too expensive, make sense.


Next, if you were to build new, you could pick and choose what you want in your new house. There are cost advantages to this “flexibility.” For instance, if you don’t want or need a garage, then don’t get one. Or perhaps you don’t want a fireplace in the new house… or a pool out back… With constructing a new house you get to customize it with regards to your desires.

What’s the Budget

The budget is usually what ultimately guides the decision on whether to renovate or start new. You have to assess your financial situation and decide how much money you can afford for fixing up an older place versus starting fresh with a brand new one. Costs tend to need a little “wiggle room,” so if the estimate is, say, $10,000 to renovate a part of your home, keep in mind that unforeseen circumstances may require an extra $1,000 or two. This is true with new builds, too. And, of course, there are maintenance costs to be considered as well. If you can, come up with a spreadsheet that is detailed with cost estimates, including potential overruns. Look at the sheets, comparing renovation costs with new build costs to get a clearer picture to help influence your final decision. It’s a good idea to write down your end goal(s) and to get advice from experts about your project. 

Home Renovations Vs. Complete Rebuilds


Here’s something to consider: time is an issue. Some people don’t want the hassle of living in a home that is being renovated. And sometimes renovations take a long time. Should they move into a hotel temporarily? Or live at home while workers are coming and going, daily? Then again, waiting for a new home to be constructed will probably take even longer!

Personal Preferences

Ask yourself this simple question: “What do I want most?” Can your existing home get up to par with renovations? Or is it impossible to please you, even with potential renovations? Here’s something to think about… some people live in developments where they’re not allowed to make big changes. The homeowners association has a set of rules and regulations. For example, a house in this kind of community might have been built with a one car garage. But the person living there marries, and his spouse wants a two car garage– but that’s not allowed. In this case, it would make sense for the couple to build a new home somewhere else, matching their wants and needs. 

Financial Implications

Budget for Building or Renovating a Home

For those with a mortgage, did you know some mortgages include clauses that deal with whether or not you can tear down your home to make way for a rebuild? Stipulations might be in place about how soon the rebuilding process has to begin, and some lenders will want to be included in the planning process. In some cases, your mortgage could forbid you from demolishing your home!

Energy Efficiency

Finally, if you’re the type of person who wants a more “green” type of house– one that’s more environmentally-friendly, then you’ll be thinking about more energy efficient windows, siding and appliances. Building a new home basically gives you the opportunity to make the greenest of choices with things like high-efficiency insulation and water-saving fixtures. It can be harder to achieve green goals with remodels.

Are you thinking of renovating your house in the Syracuse area? Or do you want to build a brand new house? Either way, Central New York’s Scott Merle Builders can meet your needs. Please call 315-409-4124 today with your questions. 

What Are the Steps of Renovating Your Home?

Home RenovationsRenovating your home can be a daunting task if you try to tackle it all at once. Rather than overwhelming yourself with a renovation project, work your way through a series of steps to get your renovation going. Here are the most important steps when renovating a house.

Plan out what you want to do during your renovation and make a budget for it.

Before you do anything else, it’s important for you to figure out exactly what you want to do during your renovation. Are you going to renovate your kitchen? Your kitchen and your bathrooms? Your entire main living area? Planning will give you a clear vision of what you want to do within your home. It’ll also help you create a budget for your renovation.

Find a contractor to head up your renovation.

Once you know what you want to do during your renovation and how much you can afford to spend on it, look for a licensed and insured contractor in your area who specializes in renovating homes. Try to track down a contractor who has a lot of experience and comes highly recommended by others. They’ll be able to take a look at your plans and help you come up with a final design for your renovation.

Obtain the proper permits and materials for your project.

After you have a final design for your project in place, it’ll almost be time to get started on the renovation itself. But before you do, it’s essential for your contractor to pull the proper permits and order the right materials for the job. Work with your contractor to get permits and pick out the materials you want to use.

Do demolition within your home.

At the beginning of the actual renovation process, your contractor will need to do demolition on your home. During demolition, they will rip out anything that you want to get rid of, knock down any walls that won’t be sticking around, and prepare your home for a makeover.

Start putting everything back together the way you want it.

Once demolition is done, your contractor can begin putting your home back together so that it looks amazing once the job is finished. As long as you’ve followed all of the other steps listed here, this should be the fun part of the process. You’ll get to see your home come back to life over the course of a few weeks.

Would you like to renovate your home? Let Scott Merle Builders help you out along the way. We can handle just about any home remodeling and renovation project, no matter how big or small it might be. Call us at 315-409-4124 today to arrange.

What Permits Do You Need for a Kitchen Remodel?

Kitchen Remodel Permits If you’re planning on painting your kitchen, installing new flooring in it, or replacing a faucet, you probably won’t have to worry too much about obtaining permits to do it. However, if you’re going to be taking on a more extensive kitchen remodeling project, you will need to get your hands on the proper permits to avoid facing fines and other penalties in the future. There are some instances in which you could even need to redo work done to your kitchen if you don’t get the right permits before remodeling it.

Permits You’ll Need for a Full Kitchen Remodel

There are a couple of permits you might have to get during a kitchen remodeling job. The first kind of permit is called a trade-specific permit. It’s the type of permit you’ll need if you’re going to be doing any electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work in your kitchen. If you’re adding new electrical components to the space or moving your plumbing around, you’ll need to apply for a trade-specific permit to do it. You can usually get this permit within a matter of just a few days without much of a fuss.

The other kind of permit is called a building permit, and it’ll cover you in the event that you’re going to be taking out or adding walls to your new kitchen. You’ll typically need to provide your city or town with your kitchen remodeling plans before you’re able to get this type of permit. You may also need to obtain both a trade-specific permit and a building permit if you’re going to need to do electrical or plumbing work while putting up or tearing down walls.

As you might imagine, it can be a huge hassle to get permits prior to starting a kitchen remodel. Scott Merle Builders will make things easier on you by getting the right permits for any project you ask us to do. Whether you want us to remodel your kitchen or renovate another part of your home, we’ll make sure we get the proper permits before we begin. Call us at 315-409-4124 today to find out more about our home remodeling and renovating services.

How to Prepare for a Home Renovation

Home Renovations Scott Merle Builders builds homes in Central New York. The company also handles home renovations.

If you’ve been thinking about having some work done at your home, what are some ways to prepare for a company like Scott Merle Builders to come to your house and make your dream a reality?

Plan for Finances

First, you’ll want to figure out your finances at the moment. What does your budget look like and what can you do to save and/or get more money to “get what you want?” Perhaps you might apply for a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit to help finance the home renovation(s). Other options include taking out a reverse mortgage, dealing with contractor financing, or applying for a FHA Title 1 loan. You might ask a relative, like a parent, for a loan. Or, if you want to save up money over time, commit to putting away a certain percentage of your paycheck toward the home renovation project each week or two… that way you’ve got a goal to work toward to, with the money all in one spot.

Iron Out the Details

Next, you’ll want to figure out what you really want done at your house, down to the details. For example, say you want to have your kitchen remodeled. Ask yourself, “Yeah, but what does that mean for me?” Maybe it’s something simple like, “Well, I just really want brand new granite countertops put in. They should be black and white.” Or it could be more elaborate, as you make a list of wants/needs, and come up with specific details including colors and materials. Do some research online and in stores to see prices for items you’re interested in, such as new lighting, cabinets, and appliances.

Is DIY a Realistic Option?

Okay, here comes the interesting part: what can you do yourself versus what should you hire someone else to do? For some people, the physicality of renovation work is too much– especially if they have bad backs. Others will tell you, “I wish I could but I am clueless about electricity, carpentry, and such– I can’t even read a ruler right!” So depending on how much you can handle, some of the work can be “do-it-yourself,” while other parts of the work should be done by professionals like Scott Merle Builders.

Finally, it’s important to be flexible. Rather than get your mind and heart set on something, it’s best to leave room for “leeway.” Just like life, expect the unexpected and do your best to roll with it.


Is Winter a Good Time to Refinish Your Basement?

Basement Renovations

50473784 – home improvement.

Most people tend to think of Buffalo or Erie, Pa., as the nation’s snowiest cities, but the truth is Syracuse is. If you check the Golden Snowball Award page on wikipedia for snowiest city, Syracuse keeps winning that title year-after-year.

During a cold and snowy Syracuse winter, it’s a good time to refinish your basement. Think about it: contractors like Scott Merle Builders don’t do as much exterior work in the winter, so they have time to focus on indoor projects, like your basement. They can replace floors, update lights, reroute plumbing pipes, do some painting, and more. Winter months also offer some discounts on things like appliances, lumber products, windows and cabinet lines since January and February are pretty slow at retail, right? Before Christmas, there are sales. After the Christmas rush, businesses get a little desperate for sales in the winter doldrum months, which can benefit a person even more with “rock bottom prices.”

Also, government agencies don’t have as much to do in the winter months, so you’re likely to obtain necessary work permits faster than other seasons of the year.

What are some reasons to have your basement refinished this winter? How about improved storage, creating more rooms you can use (such as a third bathroom or guest bedroom), adding value to your house (especially if you plan to sell it within the next few years), and getting some energy savings as insulation can be added, cracks can be sealed, etc.

For many people, a basement is wasted space, full of some clutter and not much else. But a basement can be so much more. Turn yours into functional space where things are better organized, the rooms are cleaner, better lit, and more attractive, and, if you want, gain extra “rooms” in your house where you can actually spend time doing things you love– basements make for great movie rooms, man caves, tool workshops and kids’ playrooms.

In Central New York, when you want to work with a company that’ll do a great job refinishing your basement this winter, call Scott Merle Builders of Liverpool at 315-409-4124 or email

Renovation Ideas for a Growing Family

Home Renovations for Young Families Is your home starting to feel too small for your growing family? You could put it up for sale and start looking around for something bigger. However, if you really love your house and don’t want to move, you also have the option of renovating it to fit your needs. Check out some great renovation ideas that will benefit your growing family and allow you to stay where you are most comfortable.

Find a place to put a new bathroom.

As your family grows, it’s going to get harder and harder to find a free bathroom in your home. Rather than spending your mornings yelling “Hurry up!” as you wait outside the bathroom, try to find an area where you can put a new bathroom in your home. It might seem like a small renovation to make, but it’ll make a big difference for your growing family.

Open up your living area.

Does your living area feel extremely cramped when your family sits down to watch a movie or just hang out? See if you can knock down a few walls to make your living space more open. It would be great if your entire main floor could be one open area where everyone can see one another without being on top of each other. It’ll give your family to chance to spend quality time without forcing them to pile into a small living room.

Finish off the basement.

If you have an unfinished basement, now might be the time to finish it like you said you were going to do when you first bought your home. You can add a bathroom to a finished basement, put in a couple more bedrooms, and even create a large play area for your kids to enjoy.

Add an addition and create more square footage.

In some cases, adding a bathroom or opening up an existing living area just isn’t going to cut it. If you need additional square footage to make your home big enough for your growing family, an addition might be exactly what you’re looking for. You can add more rooms to your home and make your home large enough for your family to stay in it.

Regardless of which renovation ideas sound best to you, Scott Merle Builders can handle home remodeling and renovating for your family. Call us at 315-409-4124 today to speak with someone about your renovation options.

When Do You Know a Renovation is in Order?

Home Renovations Do you have the most outdated home on your block? Do you cringe every time you pull up in front of it and see how outdated it looks? Do you wish you could do something about it? If you answered yes to these three questions, then there’s a good chance a home renovation is for you. There are other signs that will let you know it’s time to renovate as well. Take a look at some of those signs below.

Your home isn’t as energy efficient as it could be.

The first thing most people say when they start to consider a home renovation is “I can’t afford to do it.” However, the truth is that you can’t afford not to renovate your home if it’s not energy efficient. You could save yourself hundreds and potentially even thousands of dollars every year by replacing your home’s windows, changing your home’s lighting, and doing a bunch of other renovation jobs. It’ll make your home more energy efficient in no time and cut down your energy bills dramatically.

You have old fixtures that don’t look good or work well anymore.

If the sink in your kitchen is more than 20 years old and the lighting fixture hanging over your dining room table has been in place since your home was first built a few decades ago, it’s time for a home renovation. These fixtures are making your home look outdated, and they’re also probably not working as well as they should. You can replace sinks, toilets, lighting fixtures, and so much more when you do a renovation.

You hate the way certain rooms in your home function.

Do you have a kitchen that only allows one person to be in it at a time? Or a master bathroom that is entirely too small? If you don’t like the way spaces in your home function, you can change them by having a home renovation done. They’ll allow you and your family to live more comfortably and make your home more valuable at the same time.

Want to see how a home renovation could benefit you in a big way? Scott Merle Builders can speak with you about home remodeling and renovating and show you ways you could improve your home. Call us at 315-409-4124 to get started.

Discuss These Things Before Planning a Home Renovation

Home Renovations Are you starting to find that certain aspects of your home don’t work for you and your family anymore? You could get out there and start looking for a new home—or you could do a home renovation and make your house more functional for everyone without having to move. Before you do a home renovation, you should consider a few things. Ask yourself these questions prior to getting started.

What do I want to change about my home?

Do you wish that you had a larger kitchen so that you and your family could actually hang out in it, or do you wish that you had an extra bedroom or bathroom space? When you’re thinking about doing a home renovation, you want to spend time thinking about exactly what you want to change. You should also brainstorm some ways to go about giving yourself the space that you need in your home, such as knocking down a wall or rethinking the way you’re using closet space.

Do I have the budget to do a renovation?

After you have decided what you want to do during your home renovation, it will be time to figure out if you can afford to do it. A small bathroom renovation job might be well within your budget, but a total kitchen makeover might not work once you crunch the numbers. You should see if you can get some quotes from contractors in your area so that you can assess the situation.

How will my home renovation affect the value of my property?

If you’re going to spend a lot of money to renovate your home, you want to be sure that it’s going to pay off. There are real estate agents in your area who would probably be more than happy to let you know how a renovated kitchen or bathroom would affect your home’s value. This will allow you to see whether it makes sense to spend a large chunk of change on renovations.

Who can bring my home renovation ideas to life?

If you’ve considered all your options and decided to move ahead with your home renovation, it’ll be time to find the right contractor for the job. You need someone who is experienced, affordable, and willing to get started right away.

At Scott Merle Builders, we specialize in doing home renovations and can help you make your home more functional than ever before. We will complete your renovations quickly and make sure you love the work we’ve in your home. Call us at 315-409-4124 today to get started.

The Advantages of an Elevated Home

Elevated Homes If you live in a part of the country that’s prone to flooding, it’s a good idea to consider elevating your home. By putting your home up on stilts, you can avoid sustaining water damage to your home during a flood. However, that’s not the only benefit of elevated homes. Let’s discuss a few more.

It will be more secure.

It’s harder for burglars to break into an elevated home than it would be for them to break into a home closer to the ground. They will need to use a ladder or climb up on your porch in order to get access to your house when your home is elevated. You will feel a whole lot safer in an elevated home than you would otherwise.

It will provide you with more ventilation.

When your home is located close to the ground, it can be hard to get the ventilation you need to keep it cool in the spring and summertime. An elevated home will provide you with all the ventilation you need. Since your home will be up on stilts, air will circulate underneath of your home and all around it as well. This will keep the temperature down in your house. It will also reduce the risk of you being forced to deal with mold and mildew in your home.

It will give you a better view.

This might be the biggest benefit of all if you live in an area that provides you with scenic views. From the ground level, you probably wouldn’t be able to get a great view looking out of your home’s windows. However, when your home is elevated, you will be positioned up above the tree line, which will give you an excellent view of everything around you. You’ll love the way things look from up above when your home is elevated.

For more information, contact Scott Merle Builders at 315-409-4124 today to hear about the custom home plans and designs we can provide for you.

Places to Consider Adding an Extra Bathroom

Bathroom AdditionAre you struggling to think of a place to put an extra bathroom in your home? Even if you don’t have an obvious place to do it, you can make space by getting creative with the current layout of your home. Take a look at some of the ways you can find room to build an extra bathroom in your house.


This one might seem obvious, but you would be surprised by how many people have big, empty, unfinished basements and don’t consider putting a bathroom in them. You don’t necessarily have to finish off your basement to install a bathroom. You can simply section off one part of it with the right water hookups and turn it into a bathroom your family can use.


Is there a long hallway in your home with a space at the end of it that might be big enough for a bathroom? It might only be 30 square feet or so, but you can wedge an extra bathroom into it. As a bonus, you might even be able to either cut a new window into an exterior wall or use a window that is already located in the hallway for your bathroom.


Whether you have a large walk-in closet that you would be willing to sacrifice to build an extra bathroom or back-to-back closets in bedrooms that could be used to build a bathroom, you should examine the closet space in your home to see if it would make sense to use it more effectively. Turning closets into bathrooms is one of the most common practices in home renovations.


Maybe you have a large bedroom that you could “steal” some space from to create a bathroom. Or maybe you have an unused bedroom next to your master bedroom that you could transform into a large master bathroom. Whatever the case, you probably have at least one bedroom in your home that you could consider making smaller for the sake of adding a bathroom.

Regardless of how you decide to do it, Scott Merle Builders can help you find space to build a bathroom. Call us at 315-409-4124 today to check out your options.