Hi, all! My wife and I live in the Chicago suburbs. Our kids are out of the house and we are thinking about moving/downsizing, and I was hoping you would be willing to engage me in some discussion of some VERY general issues. We are pretty particular about what we are going to want out of our next home/lot, and suspect it may be difficult to find a home on the market which satisfies most of our major desires. So we are trying to figure out what would be involved in either building from scratch or doing a major addition/remodel of an existing home. I guess my biggest general question is, how do we determine whether a home is a decent candidate for remodel/addition, as opposed to tear down? I assume we will want to establish a relationship with a contractor/engineer to inspect homes with us? How do we go about locating such an expert? Would a contractor/builder generally be willing to conduct such an inspection for a fee, which might be credited against any services we later use them for? What factors ought we consider in determining whether a job is big enough to require a general contractor, as opposed to contracting it out ourselves? For example, here is a home we walked around yesterday. The walls are concrete block, and I spoke with a neighbor who said it was a "very solid" house with no water issues. If I were to essentially gut it, replacing the heat/cool plant, water, and electric, wrap the whole house with EIFS, replace all of the windows, and replace the roof, and put an addition on the back enclosing the area whch is currently patio under roof. We'd also likely completely redo the existing bath, move the kitchen, and add another bath. If we are doing THAT much work, would be be better off just tearing the whole thing down and starting from scratch? How much of home construction price could we expect to save simply by retaining the existing foundation and exerior walls? Are there any on-line calculators or other resources you recommend in trying to get a very general ballpark idea of the costs involved in various types of renovations/constructions? I realize you will not able to give me any solid answers about this or other houses, and I expect to speak with professionals in person as this idea develops. But I was hoping your thoughts and experiences might help me get my head around this type of project. Thanks in advance.