Sometimes the mess just has to get cleaned up.Often, I get the question "can we remodel or do we need to rip it out and start over?".  It's a great question.  This could apply to a single room (like a bathroom), an existing wing or extension to a house, or to an entire interior.  There are two main questions I ask back to help determine the answer.

  1. Does the current area contain enough space to do what you want?
  2. If so, what sort of shape is it in?

If you have enough space and it's in relatively good shape, it may be more economical to work with what you have.  If not, then it's probably better to redo things a bit.  It's a common misconception that it's always cheaper to keep as much as you can, but the reality is that sometimes, keeping the old creates more headaches than it's worth.

An extreme example is a project I worked on a while back for a kitchen.  The existing kitchen was a small addition to the back of the house, added back when an indoor kitchen was a new idea.  It wasn't built well--just sort of a shed tacked onto the back of the house, with poor foundations.  How did I know about the foundations?  Because the floor sloped several inches down towards one corner, and the floor was soft and rotting near the door.  Over time, the poor foundations had sunken, and water had been leaking in underneath and was causing a lot of damage.

Now, we could have kept the original and tried to fix it.  We could have removed the rotten subfloor and any damaged floor structure, then dug out the foundations bit by bit and replaced them (a process called 'underpinning'), then replaced everything else.  But the much simpler thing to do was to remove everything and start new.  This actually took less effort--saving labor costs--and also gave the homeowners peace of mind.  The new foundation is waterproofed, the new floor is level, and the new addition is larger than the old kitchen in order to accommodate more cooking, eating, and storage space.

Other times, you keep what you have.  It comes down to a combination of usefulness and cost.