Structure burned down, Rebuild $ vs. Remodel $

6 Replies

We are in the very beginning stages of rebuilding our burned down structure.  Yesterday the structural engineer stated there is one sound wall, however there is the option to demo it too.  For the pros here, what is the financial advantage (if any) to keep the 1 or 2 remaining wall(s)?  I understand permits pulled for a rebuild is different than that on a new build.  Although, I've been a member of this forum for years now I have yet to bite the bullet and flip anything which means I am completely ignorant about all of the numbers and the process.  Thanks for any assistance.  I'm not looking for exacts, ranges will do.  Thank you again.

I flip fire damaged houses and own a fire damage restoration company.

There is a lot that I can't say without seeing more details.  I assume you mean one exterior wall, meaning less than 25% of the structure is salvageable--is that right??

Without knowing all the details it seems to me that --short version--if there is only one sound wall, I don't see how it would be cost effective to salvage that part. I would look to rebuild. That having been said, was this your property when it burned or did you buy it as an investment? If it was yours, your insurance company will be making that determination. 

It looks like @Jason White is not very far from you--about 40 minutes?? You should contact him. His is a restoration specialist who is also an investor and will probably be able to give you better information by looking at it.

@Kaneisha Forrest

Sorry for your loss, I’m hoping everyone and the pets are ok. Repairing Fire damage to your home is a HUGE UNDERTAKING. 

I’m in the LA/Orange County area and yes I have a fire restoration company as well so I deal with this stuff everyday.

I now live in La Mirada but I grew up in the hills in Brea, so right near you  

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or if you would like me to take a look and give you my opinion. 

Here in California if we can save parts of the house and not have to call it a new build, but call it a remodel you will save crazy money on the permits and fees and the like. But if this is an insurance covered loss (which it sounds like it is) and you have enough coverage in your policy then most, if not all of that is covered by them, except for the tax reassessment if that were to get triggered, that will be on you. 

Lets connect and we can talk. 

Originally posted by :

who tells us the structure is condemned?  can a condemned residence still qualify as a "remodel"?  i'm interested in purchasing something like this.

Most of the time the city will red tag the house after a fire, even if it’s mostly just smoke damage, because it’s unsafe to live in, that’s obviously not a tear down. A red tag doesn’t always mean it’s condemned like a house that has fallen down a hill or something. A new build vs remodel has to do with how much of the existing structure is still available to build around. I’ve done over 200 fire damage restorations and have only had 3 completely new builds. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen but it’s extremely rare these days with the fire departments getting there fast and getting the fire out quickly. Other factors come into play as well like how many more square feet you add to the old structure. 

But to answer your question, it’s a combination of your engineer/architect and the city building department. 

Let me know if you need any help or if I can answer any more questions. 


The only advantage (maybe) I can see is the grandfather clauses that you might benefit from by leaving the wall up. In some counties in Texas as long as you leave one stud up you can benefit from it. IF there is a benefit that is.  Not sure you need this or it is even available in Cali.