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5 questions to help you decide between renovating or rebuilding your home

Rebuild vs Renovate

You love the area where you live, get on well with the neighbours and have a good block of land under your house. The problem is the house itself. You’ve either outgrown it, are ready for something more modern, or it’s falling down around your ears!

You may have visions of remodelling, extending or renovating your house to better suit your needs, but have you thought about a complete knock down and rebuild? You may be surprised to learn that a complete rebuild could be a more viable option and may even save you time and money.

Both renovations and rebuilds have their benefits and drawbacks. Here are five questions to help you make the best decision for your situation.

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1. What is the scale of the renovation work you have in mind?

Your home requires work, but exactly how much does it need to change. Are there major structural modifications needed or is it basically a sound home that could just do with a facelift?

Do you love the original character of your home and want to preserve it, or have you been dreaming about a brand new home designed exactly the way you want it?

What about the layout? Do you love it and is it functional, or perhaps your family is growing, and you need more space? Do you need to knock out some walls, or extend, and will that completely change the character of your home?

If your thoughts are leaning towards major renovations, so much so that very little of your existing home would remain, then a rebuild may be the better option.

On the other hand, if you’ve been eyeing off kitchen and bathroom remodels and getting inspired to replace your outdated tiling and cabinetry, you can easily achieve this with a reno.

The more you want to change the structure of your home, the more sense it makes to consider a knock down and rebuild. If the changes are more cosmetic, then a renovation could be more practical.


2. What are your local council restrictions on renovations or rebuilds?

Once you know which way you’re leaning – towards a reno or a rebuild – take time to check out the council restrictions and requirements around construction in your local area. It could change your mind!

Find out if your land is impacted by local council controls, such as easements, overlays and covenants. For example, if your land is in a Heritage overlay area, there may be restrictions on houses of a certain age, or specific historical importance being knocked down or extensively renovated.

Other restrictions might include limitations on the size and style of house you are permitted to build. For example, some older suburbs have a height restriction of 8.5m, but in other areas you can build up to four stories high.

It’s important to know the ‘rules’ before getting your heart set on either a rebuild or a significant renovation.


3. Will the condition of your home make it difficult to renovate?

Renovating an old or neglected house, making it like new again is a challenge some people love. Sadly however, some homes are beyond repair and to renovate would cost more than the finished house would be worth.

The cost of renovating can skyrocket, especially if you come across unexpected structural damage or major utility issues. This is especially true for pre-war houses. Common issues include plumbing rot, sinking foundations, overloaded electrical circuits, insect damage and asbestos in the roof and walls. These unexpected problems can blow your reno budget out by tens of thousands.

If you’re not sure what condition your home is in, talk to a builder about a soil test and structural assessment. If the ‘bones’ of your house are strong and in good shape, then a renovation could work. If the inspection reveals potentially major issues, it might be better to wipe the slate clean and start fresh with a rebuild.

Regardless of whether you end up doing a renovation or a rebuild, an inspection by a qualified builder will save you money in the long run. It’s better to be prepared before work commences than discover nasty surprises along the way.

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4. Do you like the existing orientation of your house?

Any builder will tell you, one of the most important aspects to get right when building a new home is orientation. Positioning your house perfectly on your block increases its energy efficiency, making it more comfortable to live in and cheaper to run.

The principles of good orientation are simple. Your home should ideally be positioned to shine north-easterly and/or northern sunlight into the living areas of your home. This way you can easily shade northern façades and the ground near them in summer with eaves, while allowing full sun penetration in winter. Also avoid bedrooms facing west, otherwise the afternoon sun will make them uncomfortably hot in the warmer months.

Does the orientation of your home make the most of the elements, or do you suffer through hot summers and freezing winters, or find you constantly run the air conditioning? There are things you can do to improve temperature comfort without rebuilding, such as adding extra windows and planting shade trees in appropriate locations.
If you lack the space to add extensions or to rearrange the layout of your house, adjusting its orientation can be challenging if going down the renovation route. It may be worth considering a knock down and rebuild to get the best orientation and make a more comfortable home from the ground up.

A house that is designed and constructed with optimum orientation can also add significant value to it, which leads to our final question.


5. What is the real value of your existing home?

Think about what you want to achieve in terms of adding value with either a rebuild or a renovation. You need to know what your existing home is worth, what it will reasonably sell for either in the current market or in the future, and how much value you want to add to it.

Call a few real estate agents to find out what types of houses are in demand in your area. Are there families wanting to move into large, brand new homes, or maybe your area is more suited for those looking for an investment property to rent out? A moderate sized renovation could be all you need to attract the right buyer.

If renovating, you’ll then need to decide how much to invest to bring it up to value and how long will it take for you to recoup that investment? When you do your sums, you may discover that a rebuild may be the cheaper option.

If you have a large, valuable block of land in a desirable area, you could be sitting on a gold mine. The best option may be to knock down your home, subdivide the land and turn it into a development opportunity. In most cases, if your land has 20 metre frontage you can split it. To give you an idea, an 800 sqm block can fit up to six townhouses. Subdividing could be an exciting option to achieve an incredible return on your investment.

Free eBook Download: Renovate vs Rebuild

Need some help deciding whether you should renovate or rebuild?

Design 360 can help you come to the decision that’s right for your needs - now and in the future. Our dedicated team of custom home designers and certification professionals work with you to create your beautiful, practical home, whether you’re renovating or rebuilding.
Our designers can walk you through your home renovation or rebuild prior to construction. Using the latest technology, your floor plans can be projected onto the floor of our custom-built, studio on a 1:1 scale. You will actually ‘walk through’ your new home making adjustments as you go!

If you’re planning a complete internal makeover of your home, our colour and design studio has everything you need under the one roof. You’ll save time running around to the paint shop, the tile shop, the bathroom shop and the appliance shop and can see what it will all look like in the one place.

Contact our friendly team today to organise a no obligation consultation.

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