Looking to buy a teardown? Here are four things to consider
Written By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Lakeshore Realty
When communities age and inventory becomes tight, a new real estate trend tends to emerge: raze and rebuild.
It’s increasingly happening around the north shore of Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side, where Californians desire an escape from high taxes. When a strong economy typically results in a scarcity of nice homes, people struggle to find what they’re looking for in the market, said Chris Plastiras, owner and broker at Lakeshore Realty in Incline Village.
“But tearing down and starting all over — it’s a huge job,” he said.
Ideally, prospective home buyers want a home that’s live-in ready. The second choice is usually a fixer-upper that just needs some interior renovations. The last choice tends to be a rebuild.
The best way to ensure costs remain stable is to stick to a cosmetic renovation, but with a rebuild, cost overruns are practically the norm, he said.
For those willing to take on the challenge and the expense, Plastiras offers the following advice.
1. Assess any building issues
The first thing you’ll want to determine is whether there are environmental issues such as asbestos, which has to be removed by a licensed abatement company, Plastiras said. In other words, identify the expenses you might not have previously budgeted.
Thorough surveys and site assessments will help buyers determine how much land coverage — the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s (TRPA) term for all man-made structures on a property — will be allowed.
The soil type, tested through either a TRPA site assessment or an Individual Parcel Evaluation System score, determines Land coverage allowances, as do factors such as topography, stream zones and open space easements.
Teardowns that have larger coverage allowances than what would be permitted today are grandfathered in, making this option attractive for buyers who wish to build bigger homes.
2. Hire a good Realtor and planner
Given the environmental requirements that go along with building in the Lake Tahoe Region, Plastiras recommends hiring a realtor and a planner, both who understand the various regulations and restrictions when it comes to demolishing a home.
Plastiras said realtors should be able to walk buyers through all of the regulations that each agency involved in the process will require. Agencies involved in the building process include the TRPA, Washoe County Building Department and the Incline Village General Improvement District.
3. Do your diligence
It’s important to have realistic expectations for the process as well as the budget.
“Start thinking about what it’ll cost to get permits, an architect, fees, engineering — then line up a good contractor,” Plastiras said. “You don’t want any big surprises if you can avoid them.”
4. Be patient
Pouring foundations around Lake Tahoe typically can only occur from May 15 to Oct. 15 due to freezing weather. By the time you buy the property, design what you want to put on it, tear down the existing house and build a new one, Plastiras said you could be looking at anywhere from 18 to 24 months from start to finish.
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