There comes a time in many homeowners’ lives where it becomes obvious they need more space or their home requires extensive updating to make it liveable. Whatever the reason, the dilemma faced is the same; do you move, do you renovate, or do you start from scratch by knocking over your existing home and rebuilding a brand-new dwelling?
If you love where you live and it’s convenient to remain where you are now here’s what you’ll need to consider before you decide whether to renovate or rebuild.
The aim of the project
Are you hoping to double the size of your existing home, or do you just want an extra bedroom and bathroom? Will there be much structural change to the existing part of the home, or do you like the current floorplan and just want to add a new section to increase your accommodation? The answer to these questions will have a bearing on the cost, and the overall feasibility of your project. If it’s only a small gain you’re hoping to make, then renovation is likely to be the best option, however, if you’re looking to gain a significant amount of space, you may be better to bite the bullet and start over.
It’s reasonably well-known when comparing the cost of a new build to that of a renovation, the renovation is going to cost more every time. Why? A renovation is tailored specifically to your existing home, and it’s generally more time consuming and labor intensive; it’s a true one-off design that leaves you with a bespoke home. By comparison, brand new homes are often quicker to construct, utilising materials and systems that have been developed to maximise time and efficiency.
Your current home will have unique features that make it what it is today; whether that’s a good or a bad thing is for you to decide! If you live in a period style home for example, you may be rather attached to its decorative ceilings, deep cornices, high skirtings and original floorboards, and whilst these can potentially be replicated in a new build, you may lose some of the character and charm that you’ve grown to love. Whilst bright, shiny and new appeal to many, some people can’t imagine destroying the rich history that’s been created in their home by past owners. If that’s how you feel, then renovating and extending your existing space is likely to be your preferred option.
What lies beneath
Another reason new builds are generally cheaper is because builders know exactly what they’re working with, making it is easy to provide a fixed price contract. In an existing home, however, builders have no idea what they may find when they pull down a wall, pull up flooring, or pull out a bathroom. There is also no guarantee that all your current services will be in good enough shape to support a renovation. For these reasons alone, many builders will estimate the cost of a renovation, but not provide a fixed price so you will need to have a realistic contingency budget available for all the little things that may rear their ugly head along the way.
Before you make a decision, it’s imperative you speak to your local council and ask about the viability of both options, as there may be restrictions you’re not aware of; this is why properties advertised with renovation/building potential always state STCA, which stands for Subject To Council Approval. If you decide to knock over your existing home you’ll need to find somewhere to live for the period of the build, whereas if you renovate, you may be able to live in the home whilst the works are undertaken.
The decision of whether to renovate or to rebuild can be a difficult one to make; often people live in their existing conditions longer than they had ever planned because they’re torn between the pros and cons of each. The key to deciding is to be informed, assess your financial situation and understand what you needs are now and what they are likely to be in the future.