Making the Decision

Here are five tips from local experts on things to consider before deciding whether to remodel or move:

Do the math
Dana Rice, vice president of the Dana Rice Group in Chevy Chase, encourages her clients to survey what the market has to offer before making any major decisions. “The answer is always in the spreadsheet,” she says. “What is the equity that [the homeowner] has in their home, and can that be parlayed into a larger property that meets their needs?”

Safety first
Though most homeowners would rather spend their remodeling budget on a new kitchen than updated wiring, structural and safety needs, such as upgrading an electrical system or installing a new roof, sometimes come first. Doug Monsein, the founder of Douglas Construction Group in Potomac, recommends that clients prioritize their remodeling objectives this way: “Safety needs, must-haves, and then the wish list.”

Location, location, location
“I believe a lifestyle analysis comes first,” says Monsein, who encourages homeowners to assess their attachment to their home and neighborhood by asking the following questions: “Do we like our neighborhood, schools, community, proximity to work and play, etc.? If we move, will we create a similar or better environment, generate great memories and enhance and improve on our current situation?”

Lot size matters
Many owners considering whether to renovate or move are looking for a more spacious dwelling for growing families and changing lifestyles. “If your lot won’t accommodate the kind of addition that you want to do, then you have to start asking yourself, ‘Where else can I go?’ ” says real estate agent Jane Fairweather of the Jane Fairweather Team at Long & Foster in Bethesda, who cites factors such as wanting to change school districts, desiring more land, or not liking a lot’s location as other reasons to relocate. “If you’re on a busy street and want to move to a quiet neighborhood street, you’re going to try to make that happen.”

Don’t be shortsighted
Rice urges remodeling homeowners to balance efforts to increase their resale value with creating a home they will enjoy in the years before it goes on the market. “If you’re going to pick something [to remodel], make sure it adds value later,” she says.


Amanda Cherrin lives in Chevy Chase and is a former reporter for Sports Illustrated.