GBA readers get a steady diet of advice on how to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of old houses. The list almost always includes basics like air sealing and adding insulation, and may extend to upgraded mechanical systems and windows.
BlueSolar isn’t so sure that makes sense.
Writing in a recent Q&A post, BlueSolar says he’s not finding good building lots in convenient neighborhoods in the two areas he’s considering, Tucson and Las Vegas. So he’s thinking about buying a cheaper house, tearing it down, and building a new one.
BlueSolar can see pros and cons. On the plus side, he’ll get energy efficiency, comfort, roominess, and all the building details he wants. On the downside, this will probably cost more and take longer.
“I don’t like old houses in general,” BlueSolar says. “They tend to be ridiculously inefficient, uncomfortable, and low tech. I think landfills are fabulous, so I have no problem with sending a bunch of debris to one. I actually think a lot of houses should be torn down and replaced with much improved ones, just like that federal program that encouraged people to junk their old, high-polluting cars.”
So what’s the best route: raze and replace, or fix what you’ve got? That’s the topic for this Q&A Spotlight.
That all depends on what you’re starting with, Akos replies. If an existing foundation can be reused it could save a lot of money. If the house is balloon-framed with clapboard siding, demolishing it and rebuilding would be cheaper than trying to make it energy efficient.
“All brick is a bit different,” Akos adds. “Tearing down and rebuilding brick is not cheap. Generally you want to re-use as much of that and only…