Renovate or detonate? That is the question


Should you renovate your home or demolish and build new? We have the answers…

Home owners faced with an older home that is in need of some TLC inevitably find themselves asking ‘Should we simply demolish and build new?’ OR ‘Will we better off spending that money on a great renovation and home extension?’.

We have prepared the top five factors to consider to help you decide whether to renovate OR detonate!

1 – Consider the area & style of home

If you are in a run-down area that is in the process of being revitalised with demolitions, subdivisions and new builds, then a new build is probably a better option.

However, if your home is in an area rich in character and history, do you really want to strip that away? Retaining the heritage and charm of an area is worthwhile for so many reasons. Old-fashioned character and quality can never be recreated, and suburbs and homes that retain the charm of yesteryear maintain their value over time. Homes in these areas continue to hold their value long term and are often highly sought after.

If you decide to demolish and build new, consider the style you choose. Some trendy styles will start to date within 10 to 15 years. For example, do you remember the Tuscan trend in the 80s? Think terracotta tiles, homes with no eaves, orange tile roofs and lots of cream and beige interiors. These homes are now extremely dated. They also perform badly in modern energy assessments as they're not suitable for our hot climate in Australia. 

Still not sure? Talk to a local real estate agent and get their opinion.

Image: Amerex, renovated character home in a heritage area

Image: Amerex, renovated character home in a heritage area

2 - Compare the costs

A well-planned building project should be fully costed in advance. This applies to both a new build and to a renovation project. The true cost of each project may include items that are not apparent at the outset. A complete budget should include items such as short term renting, storage, and any tasks that are possibly not included by your builder, such as painting or landscaping. These will all cost you money, either now or in the future, so should be calculated right at the very start.

But, how do you know what a renovation will cost? The first step is to engage the professional services of a designer to plan your project. Then get a renovation specialist builder to provide a fixed price cost* for the entire project.

*Note: If you manage the renovation yourself it will cost you more if you do not have access to trade rates which a specialist builder will have.

Costing a major renovation project to do yourself can be tricky. Be very careful and avoid the trap of deciding to do the renovation yourself and running out of money half-way. This can happen due to poor planning, unforeseen expenses, and cost blow-outs. It is not uncommon to hear of people living with a half finished house for many years. They never really complete it and never get the enjoyment from their home that they wished for.

Once you're armed with the costs to build new and the costs of a complete renovation, you are ready to make a comparison. But are you getting the same product? Will the renovation give you the same number of rooms as the new build? Will the renovation keep parts of the home that you already love? There are so many factors to consider rather than just price.

3 - The cost of renting & storage

When you demolish and build new, you'll have the problem of where to stay during construction. This usually means locating a rental property and paying for storage of some of your household furniture.

When renovating you'll be able to live in the home while renovation takes place (though not always!). Yes, there will be some inconvenience involved, but there are considerable accommodation cost savings too. If the total budget is a key consideration this cannot be ignored as an area where you can potentially make a major saving. 

For example, consider a 6-month build at $450 per week in rent, already you are over $10k before you have even estimated storage costs. Storage and rental costs can add up over time and must be factored in when you're crunching the numbers. Make sure you know how long the build will take, as this is a key factor when calculating costs.

Image: Amerex, home addition with heaps of natural light

Image: Amerex, home addition with heaps of natural light

4 – Council approvals are important!

In most Australian cities and towns there are heritage protection zones in place. If your home is located in one of these areas or streets, then you MUST renovate. The local council will simply not approve demolition. Hefty fines apply for those that flout the by-laws.

In areas that are not heritage protected, be aware that restrictions may still apply. For example, a local council may decline to approve a full demolition if it thinks it is detrimental to the streetscape. For example, there are often restrictions on how visible a second storey addition is allowed to be from the street in low-rise areas. This can apply to adding on to an existing home and to a new home – particularly in an established area.

The council may assess how imposing the home will be on the streetscape and not approve your design. To avoid problems talk to your local council in the early planning stages. That is, before finalising your design/plans, ensure that you know what limitations apply in your local area before you get your heart set on a certain design.

 5- Capital gains of your future home

At some time in the future – as unlikely as it may seem now – you will arrive at a point in your life when it is time to sell your home. Hopefully, after crafting the home that you love, you'll enjoy it for many more years before it comes time to sell.

It can be very difficult to estimate what your home may be worth in the future. To do this, it is worthwhile engaging the services of a local real estate agent to provide advice.

An agent will compare the recent selling prices of renovated homes versus new homes in your area. They will also factor in x-factor elements such as character features and street appeal.

For more tips on renovating and building head over to the pros and cons of building a home, how to save when building and how to keep your home and belongings secure during a reno.

Company bio:

Amerex Renovations and Additions are a Perth Builder specialising in home renovations, second storey additions and home extensions to older homes. Amerex has core values of Integrity, Quality and Care and with over 25 years in the business have an outstanding track record in delivering high-quality home renovations. In recognition of this, the Housing Industry Association has awarded them the WA HIA Professional Small Builder/Renovator of the Year an incredible 5 times.

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