Renovate or Rebuild?

To renovate or rebuild? That is the question.

Shakespeare probably never had to answer that question, but deciding whether to do renovate or to rebuild all over again is filled with just as much complexity as the playwright’s poetic dilemmas. If you’re in the position where you can’t decide whether to start a major renovation project or rebuild completely, this post is here to help you make up your mind.

While budget is obviously a major concern, there are actually some bigger factors that come into play when making a decision of this kind.

Is a rebuild actually allowed?

The first step is the most important even if it’s the easiest. There’s a possibility that you may not even have the option to demolish and rebuild.  Council planning laws will change from suburb to suburb and sometimes street to street. They may prohibit houses of a certain age, or specific historical importance, from being demolished or significantly altered.

Council records should have details on such things as the age of your home and whether or not it can be significantly altered. The first step is to check the council website, Here for Queenslanders.

If you don’t have the right to demolish your home then your question has already been answered and you can begin to plan your renovation! If you can demolish, then your journey is just beginning.

What are your real needs?

This question is much harder to answer because no one but you can answer it. A way to think about this is to think of the end goal of how you want your house to serve you. What is the purpose of each room you want to add? How does each individual room/living space contribute to the whole of your dream home?

This will depend on the make up of who is living in your home. If you’re a growing family, thinking about the future will be a big part of this. Are you going to renovate now, only to then have to renovate in a couple of years?  If so, advanced planning is going to be required.

Ultimately, the answer to this question will probably depend on if you’re the kind of home lover who loves character and quirk – every nook and cranny with a story – of the kind of home lover who loves the idea of freshly painted walls that no one has ever lived in before. There is no way to give concrete answers here, so the best way to begin to get your head around it all is to take a day of planning.

Let your imagination wander and visualise the house that you and your family will be vibrantly happy in. If you struggle to do this, then find an architect or builder who can help facilitate your dreaming process. Once you get a clearer picture of what you want, then the practical decisions of building versus renovation become easier.

How significant are your needs?

In other words,  how much extra room do you really need, and how much structural change will this require? If significant structural change is on the cards to the point that the original home may be virtually unrecognizable, you may well be best off to rebuild than renovate

What’s the orientation of your current house?

This is one of the most fundamental, and yet often missed, aspects of design and construction. Ideally, you want northerly/north-easterly sun hitting your home as much as possible. This makes your winters pleasant and your summers more bearable. Natural light is one of the most underrated aspects of great homes.

If your current house is oriented in all the wrong ways so that it feels virtually impossible to get natural sunlight, then you may have a mini-nightmare on your hands in your home renovation. It could be worth starting again if the initial design and orientation is fundamentally flawed.

The cost.

In all likelihood, renovating will probably ultimately be more expensive. But don’t let that put you off. Home renovations are a labour of love, and if you have a vision for your home then the time, labour and money will all be worth it to create a unique home that has your signature of love written upon it.

It may well be cheaper to knock down and build a new house from scratch, but this will probably mean a relatively basic house. If you want something fresh and clean, then that could be the option for you. But if the phrase “dream home” strikes any kind of chord in you, and you already love your house, then jump on into the wonderful world of renovations!