Ask Us: Cheaper to build new or remodel in San Francisco?

Where readers ask and we try to answer:

Any idea on the cost to build a new home in San Francisco by square foot? I understand it is often cheaper to rebuild than remodel a small, old structure.

Any reply is appreciated.

You are correct. Generally, it is cheaper to rebuild than remodel. As for exact cost, that is open for debate and in no way set in stone.

If you found a property the city will let you tear down, please share the details with us, as finding such a gem is next to impossible and getting a decent vacant lot is also no small task. So we’re curious. Either way, prepare for a good bit of red tape, hire a reputable contractor and architect, and prepare for a few bumps in the road.

If you need to calculate your square footage, one of our readers already nailed that topic, so have a look at that too.

Otherwise, we open it up to our readers, who often know more than we do.

Legwork of hiring the right contractor [theFrontSteps]

Calculating Square Footage in San Francisco [theFrontSteps]

2 thoughts on “Ask Us: Cheaper to build new or remodel in San Francisco?

  1. So many assumptions in that statement. It is not as easy as it sounds. Your biggest risk is primarily in that in tearing down and rebuilding, you will have to pursue entitlements most likely in addition to demolition and building permits. The teardown may not conform to current zoning but be grand fathered in. In which case it is possible that you end up with less than what you started with. Especially in SF, entitlement risk can kill you.

  2. Dede,

    Thanks for your reply. Can you elaborate a little bit about this? I realize these things are political in SF. I know the place is zoned for two-stories along with the other lots in the area (there are very few homes that are not built up) . Does that mean it is grandfathered in? Aren’t there work arounds in construction where you don’t necessarily tear down the entire structure?

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