Should You Buy The House Next Door?

Should You Buy The House Next Door?

For increasing numbers of Philadelphia homeowners, their available square footage is not working out. Living areas are just too crowded. Whether it’s because of a growing family or more time spent at home due to remote work, expanding your home and gaining more space is a challenging goal for many of our clients. If the option presents itself, and the row home or lot next door goes up for sale, it could make sense for you to purchase the connected house in order to expand your living space for your family. 

There are several things to consider when your neighboring real estate comes up for sale. First and foremost; Is the purchase price worth the final investment to buy and modify the property next door instead of moving? Is your neighbor or the current owner open to selling the property directly to you? Will zoning allow for you to combine the properties? These are just a few things to consider when the option to purchase your neighboring property presents itself.

How to Buy the Home Next to Yours? 

Whether you are on good terms with your neighbor or hardly ever see them, you might consider making an offer to purchase their property. It's certainly possible to buy property not currently offered for sale from a neighboring homeowner. We recommend that you look at comparable properties and recent sales to get an idea of what your neighbor's property is worth. A real estate agent can be especially helpful in this regard.

You'll want to make sure you have financing in place before making an offer on the home. You’ll also want to establish an end goal. What are your plans for the property? Are you looking to break through walls on the first and second floor? Working with a design-build company will help you understand what would be allowed under your community's zoning rules.

Can you break through rowhome walls?

Most Philadelphia row houses' party walls are solid brick, so you will need a professional to know how to go about opening these walls safely. Breaking through the walls of a Philadelphia row home can seem like a daunting job, but if you work with an experienced firm with architectural and engineering experience it’s not as scary as it first appears. The first step is to understand what is possible and what those options will cost.

Our architectural design and development process focuses heavily on exploration and feasibility (we refer to this as our Initial Design & Exploration step). This means as soon as our team begins developing your project in the initial stages, we will also focus on and discuss the necessary zoning, architectural, and engineering​ that may be required. For a small fee, an initial design step enables you to explore and understand the risks and hidden costs before a full commitment to construction. This preliminary step is a clear benefit for any homeowner, particularly when the project is complex or large.

For projects in which a homeowner is connecting two row homes by breaking through a party wall, there are good reasons to involve a design professional early in the process. Some prefer to work with an architect first and discover the costs later. Others decide to work with a team approach right away. The real benefit comes when the architect and builder are aligned with a common vision that the homeowner can influence and create. 

The design-build method has many advantages, one of which promotes and encourages productive collaboration with other design and remodeling specialists to contribute solutions during the planning process. If the architect and builder are on the same page early on, it allows for a smooth transition from design and development into construction, which minimizes timelines (and stress) for the homeowner.

Sean Farrell, a designer at Bellweather, is working on combining two homes in Fitler Square, Philadelphia. “Combining two row homes is a great way to expand the tight footprint of city dwellings" mentioned Farrell. "Our clients were tired of their tight galley kitchen, it truly limited them from entertaining friends and family in their home. So, they decided to buy the row home next to them and create their dream kitchen!" The Bellweather this is excited to be working on joining these rowhomes together to create one space for the family to enjoy.

"After carefully navigating Philadelphia's lot consolidation process and working with our structural engineer partners, they are on their way to a newly crafted kitchen with an open first floor plan.  All while creating a rental unit in the newly purchased row home for added income!” says Sean.

Benefits of Working with a Design-Build Firm

There are many options to consider when planning a remodel or renovation, especially when engineering is involved. if it includes conjoining two properties. In the Philadelphia area, the design-build process is steadily increasing in popularity and may someday overtake the traditional design-bid-build method.... but why? There are several reasons why the design-build delivery method works so well for additions and major renovation projects. To learn more about the benefits of design-build, take a look at our process here

If you're considering hiring a design-build team in the Philadelphia area for your next project, we encourage you to reach out to one of our team members!

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