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SFR:  When is it considered a remodel vs. new construction (rebuild)?

The One Stop Shop frequently receives questions related to how the city differentiates between what is considered new construction and what is considered a remodel.   Because the International Building Code does not include a definition for remodeling, each city must identify its own criteria. 


The city of Scottsdale has idenfitied the following a list of factors that are considered when making this determination:

In order to remodel a building or structure it first needs to be in existence. If a building is torn down and reconstructed it is new construction. Leaving a small element of the existing structure does not reasonably constitute a remodeling project.

One should consider the following:

  1. If the structure is demolished and rebuilt on the existing foundation, it is considered new construction.
  2. Any additional area added to the original building is considered new construction.
  3. Any alterations to the interior is considered as remodeling as long as there is not a resulting increase in area.
  4. Adding a new structural element is considered new construction.

The application of these considerations is to be done on a case by case basis. The final determination is to be done by the plans examiner and may result in additional plan review fees.


Related Definitions

  • Alter: To make different without changing it into something else.
  • ALTERATION: Any construction or renovation to an existing structure other than repair or addition.
  • Alteration: Construction in a building which may change the structural parts, mechanical equipment, or location of openings, but does not increase the overall area of dimensions of the building.
  • Alterations: 1. A construction project (or portion of a project) comprising revisions within or to prescribed elements of an existing structure as distinct from additions to an existing structure. 2. Remodeling.
  • Remodel: To alter the structure of: Reconstruct <an old house>
  • New: Having existed or having been made a short time.

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