Are you having trouble trying to decide whether you should knock down rebuild or renovate?  You’re not alone.  Many of our clients ask us the same thing.

This blog is what we advise our clients, to help them (and now to help you!), make a better decision that suits their circumstances.

Remember, there is no right or wrong answer to whether you should rebuild or renovate.  The answer lies in weighing up the facts and coming to a conclusion.  Your answer to rebuild or renovate, may be purely based on emotions, and that is OK.  After all, it’s your family home.

OK, are you ready to run through some of the facts (without the emotion) you should be considering?

What are the limitations of your council?

The first thing you should do is check with your council you can obtain a permit to knock down your house and rebuild.

Some of the possible reasons it may not be permitted include, the age of your home, if your house is heritage listed, or it is in a part of the suburb which has a heritage overlay.

If the answer is No, council will not allow you to knock down and rebuild, your only option is a major renovation or extension.

If the answer is yes, council will allow you to knock down and rebuild, great!  You have two options available to you – knockdown and rebuild or renovate.

While you are with council, take the time to check out the building code regulations, such as property setback rules (distance of house exterior from boundaries) and house to land ratios.  If you are permitted to knock down and rebuild, these factors may determine the scope of your building limitations.

Let us step through a few more questions you should consider in your decision to rebuild or renovate –

How big do you need your house to be?

Do you need a significant amount of new space to meet and suit your family and lifestyle aspirations?  Do you need a few bedrooms (of which you will need extra bathrooms), extend the living areas, need a bigger kitchen?  Or do you simply want to add a room and update some of its features?

How complicated will it be to achieve these needs?  If you are needing or wanting to move rooms around, change windows and doors, or the floorplan isn’t quite working, if may be worth considering a knock down rebuild.

Finetune the list of your needs so you know exactly what you need to do to achieve the result for it to work.

What is the current condition of your house?

There’s a saying, ‘the paint is holding up my house’.  This means your home is significantly run down.  If it looks like you may require some major structural work while you are renovating, then it may be wise to consider a knock down rebuild.

  • Use your building report

If you can get your hands on your building inspection report (remember, that report you paid for when you bought the house?).  This report will describe the condition of your house and highlight areas that may need attention.  If it’s been a long time since you purchased the house, call on a builder to give you a thorough assessment of your house and its condition.

  • Your house is in good condition

If the bones of your house are good and in excellent condition, and you decide to renovate or extend, you may not need to spend extra money preparing and shoring up its structure and walls to accommodate your renovation.

  • The orientation of your house on the block

Another thing to consider with your existing home, is its orientation.  Is it situated on the block taking advantage of modern living? Can you improve the views and privacy?  Is it using the best of the sun and light?  If not, can your renovation help improve this without adding significantly to the cost and size of the project.

  • Other house issues to consider

House issues such as rising damp or termite infestation and/or damage can be costly to rectify.  It is best to get a professional in who can advise on the solution and the cost to fix the problem.  You don’t want any unattended issues to ruin your newly renovated space.

Do a neighbourhood check.

What are the housing standards around your neighbourhood?

Are there are lots of large, modern homes?  Is yours the little old house with outdated features?  We recommend you check with a local real estate agent.

If vacant land is precious in your neighbourhood, then a knockdown rebuild may be the better choice and will prevent you overcapitalising.

It’s not always purely a real estate decision in the end, especially if you love your little old house but it does help you to consider the neighbourhood to see where your building project stands within the neighbourhood.

Realistically, what is your budget?

How much do you have available to spend on your new home?  How much will the bank lend?  Once you have this figure, this will set your limit on what you can and cannot do.

How much to demolish and rebuild a house?

Generally speaking, a knock down and rebuild is less expensive per square metre than a renovation.  The reason for this is no two homes are alike, so each new renovation or extension project is different – taking more time, skill and labour to build.  A knock down rebuild, takes advantage of modern materials, standard sizes, a blank space and labour-saving processes and materials.

However, the size of your budget may only get you a standard new build with average fixtures and fittings because the cost is spread across a whole house.  If the same amount of money is spent on a renovation, your budget may get you less house but better-quality fixtures and fittings.

Discuss with your architect and builder about what your budget can build.  The difference may be surprising.

Rebuild or renovate?

Here’s a quick summary of the questions to answer to help you decide which is better for you –

  1. Is a knock down rebuild permitted by your local council?
  2. What exactly do you need or the changes in your house – how big is the build?
  3. What is the current condition of your house?
  4. What is the neighbourhood standard for houses?
  5. Exactly what can your budget get in a new build or a renovation?

If you are a first-time renovator or have never rebuilt, you probably are a little hesitant and unsure of what either process will entail.

Let’s go through each one and give you things to contemplate before embarking on it.  As we say, its wise to prepare.

What’s it like to knock down and rebuild?

A knock down rebuild, tends to involve a lot of work and research up front.

Start developing the plans with your architect or builder

This translates all your wants and needs into a beautifully appointed, well flowing home.  There is a lot to think about and work in together.  Of course, your builder or architect will help you enormously during this stage, but they will need some input from you.

A knock down rebuildOnce your plans have council approval, you will need to choose all your fixtures and fittings – and we mean every single one.  From the benchtop colour and material, style of architraves and ceiling cornices to where you want your power points to be located.  You will need to make a thousand decisions, some on fixtures you may never have thought about before.

At SBR we have a team of interior designers and selection coordinators to help you through this process.  We ensure it all comes together and that all your choices look amazing together!

You will need to pack up your belongings and move out of your home for an extended period.  Your builder will advise how long this will be for.

The building begins

Once the building begins, it’s all go from there.  Basically, your architect and builder will be working tirelessly to get your dream home constructed.  You can relax at this stage, as all your work is done.  You will be in communication with the builder for a select few decisions, but you can watch it all unfold.

What’s it like to renovate your home?

Major renovations will require the family to move out of the home.  So, you will need to factor in the cost to rent (or move in with the in-laws!). You will need to pack up the house to secure your belongings, so they don’t get damaged or dusty during the renovations.  The renovation is disruption and fine dust, like you cannot imagine.  Cover your furniture and if possible, move as much as you can away from the building action!

Gyprocking a major renovationYou will be working with your architect or builder to get plans together.  When complete, you will start to choose all your fixtures and fittings.  This helps ensure that indecision and all ordered supplies arrive in a timely manner, so nothing can hold up the construction.

As the construction starts, it is a little stressful seeing your house torn apart, walls removed, floors ripped up.  You may not be able to see the vision of the finished result, but your builder has it all under control.  Stay with us here, seek some relaxation in whatever form works best for you – deep breathing, massages, mediation, yoga, will work!

The builder will be constant contact with you, as they start to knock down walls and reveal what’s underneath, a few finds will require decisions to be attended to.

An experienced builder will be able to work through your best options to overcome them.  This is where added costs may occur but a good builder would have prepared you for this so this should not come as a surprise. Alternatively, you may have no problems at all, and the renovation has gone to plan.  Again, have faith that your builder knows what they are doing.

Before you know it, your renovation reveals a newly transformed home into everything you imagined and more so!

We hope this helps you think about all the factors you should consider whether to rebuild or renovate.  Both options have their advantages and disadvantages but the best way to decide is to conduct your own research and talk to lots of experts.  We promise the answer will become clear.

Call us on 1300 676 166 or contact us here, to talk to our builders to assess your needs, wants and your new home.

More reading:

If you do decide to knock down and rebuild, our blog – project home versus custom home build?  – will save you time and money trying to decide which way to go.

Do you have a sloping block?  We show you how to use design to take advantage of its site and your lifestyle to achieve your WOW! home.

More Projects:

Our best rebuild in Sydney – it’s grand, its amazing, its a must-see!

Our church major renovation in the inner west of Sydney – from its cold spiritual past to a warm haven.