‘Heritage’ has re-emerged as a pervasive yet debatable discourse in the wake of the 2015 earthquakes, particularly in the context of the rebuilding of traditional Newa towns in the Kathmandu Valley. However, despite comparable built forms, architectural commonalities and similar demographic landscapes, not all Newa towns have taken to heritage as a logic or rationale for rebuilding in a manner that is similar. While in some settlements, heritage is a by-law that legally mandates rebuilding and binds residents, in others, it simply is an option that residents have the choice to opt out of. As we have seen on the ground, the potential duality of some structures as both a home and a site of heritage complicates the reconstruction at both conceptual and practical levels. In this context, this paper takes up two such Newa settlements in the valley – Thecho, a traditional town in the outskirts, and Pilachhen, a rapidly ‘gentrifying’ settlement in the Patan urban core – to conduct a comparative study of the ongoing patterns and politics of post-earthquake rebuilding. The study shows that there are important trade-offs involved when residents adopt or are made to adopt one approach over another – shelter or heritage – toward rebuilding. Taking stock of these trade-offs raise critical questions about the aesthetics of the house rebuilt, the ‘authenticity’ of identity that it is meant to carry, the urgency of shelter needs, and the political economy of everyday life. Intertwined with these questions are equally critical questions about land and livelihood, which, at this particular conjuncture, face an uncertain future vis-à-vis loss and recovery, made even more uncertain in the time of the pandemic. This paper is part of a four-year long mix methods ethnographic research project that centers on ‘household’ as a primary unit of analysis.