Understanding The Teardown Option in Fairfield County


Understanding The Teardown Option in Fairfield County

If you’re considering building a custom home in Fairfield County then you may be considering the teardown option. Nearly a third of Connecticut’s population lives here. As a result, heavily populated towns like Westport, Greenwich, Darien and Fairfield have a limited inventory of single-family building lots. And the lots that are available mostly contain challenging landscapes that make it cost prohibitive or harder to build on. Most of the remaining lots in the area contain ledge, wetlands and or have slope and grade issues. More rural towns such as Weston and New Canaan have a slightly higher percentage of available building lots, however the inventory is still slim. As a result, tearing down an existing structure may make the most sense. Here are a few things to consider when exploring the teardown.

Tearing a home down in Fairfield County

The Right Building Team is Critical
There’s nothing more important than assembling the right team when building a custom home, especially in a teardown situation in Fairfield County. This process requires the skills of experienced professionals including a qualified Architect, Civil Engineer, Home Builder and Realtor. A good realtor and homebuilder can provide accurate value assessments of land and structures to determine cost effectiveness. Along with the Architects and Engineers, they can also help identify the building restrictions and requirements that are associated with the lot.

Property Assessment
Most associate a teardown with serious damage that makes the home uninhabitable or otherwise dangerous. However, that isn’t the only measure for evaluation. A good rule of thumb can be when the land on which a house is situated is worth as much or more than the house itself. For example, you may find an older house that, once evaluated, turns out to be so worn by the effects of age and weather that it would cost more than the property is worth to repair it. Even though that house may be habitable and up to code, a teardown would still be a smart option.

The teardown option gives you more flexibility when choosing the location of your new home. The limited availability of building lots means that you may need to settle for a location that is not optimal. By expanding your options to include existing homes, you give yourself a better chance of finding a location that meets your education, recreation and entertainment needs. Furthermore, existing homes in established neighborhoods often have mature trees, plantings and landscape. In contrast, when building new, the lot often times needs to be cleared, and landscaping installed.

The Renovation Option
Not all teardown projects need to involve leveling the entire house. If a home has a tight floor plan and or lacks a specific living space that you require, you might consider expanding with a new home addition as well as reconfiguring the layout. A good Home Builder and Architect will be able to properly assess the feasibility of adding on and or renovating. Considerations will include the realities of moving structural components, footprint and building restrictions, etc. 

Potential Challenges to Overcome
Any new construction project is going to require thoughtful evaluation and planning, but a teardown may require additional legal requirements that are not factors when building a new home on a vacant lot. Tearing down a home and building new in towns like Westport, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan and Fairfield will require demolition permits. In addition there may be zoning, historic preservation and demolition challenges. Each town has a unique permitting process to navigate, and some towns are more restrictive than others. Assembling and working closely with your building team is the best way to navigate these challenges.