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Hold The Wrecking Ball – Renovate vs Rebuild

Renovate vs Rebuild

If you love where you live, but your home no longer suits your family’s needs, it is common for people to start dreaming of keeping the land but starting afresh with a brand new home.

However, knocking down and rebuilding your home may not be the way to go.

Before you bring in the wrecking ball, here’s some food for thought on why you should, at the very least, investigate the alternative of extending or adding to your home.

Overall Costs

As a rule of thumb, rebuilding a home is likely to cost far more than renovating it.

Of course, the cost of each highly depends on the extent of your plans, but as our article on adding space for less explains, an extension or addition can be built in a very cost-effective way by using standardised plans, much in the same way new home builders use ‘off the plan’ designs.

In their favour, standardised plans can be specifically designed to take advantage of the NSW Housing Code for Complying Development. These don’t have to go through a potentially lengthy Development Application process.

On top of this, standardised plans using common dimensions cost less because of the economies of scale.

These plans aren’t the only way to keep costs down – there may be those who prefer more freedom – but they are a good way of renovating your home with a big cost advantage over a rebuild, and the ‘constraints’ may not be as restrictive as you might assume.

Even without standardised plans, renovating is the cheaper alternative to rebuilding when you consider some of the other costs that may be involved.

Hidden Costs

With ‘Knock Down Rebuild’ projects there may be a range of additional costs that are less likely to be incurred when completing an extension or addition.

When rebuilding, the site is usually “clear felled” when the original home is knocked down, removing paths, driveways, gardens, lawns and fences.

The homeowner may be required to repair or upgrade council property such as new footpaths, kerbs and gutters, a new crossover for a driveway, as wdell as reinstating footpath grass and landscaping.

These ‘reinstatement’ costs are all usually outside the building contract. Whilst some of these may also need attention with an extension or addition, there is more scope in the design to avoid them.

Existing services such as sewer, stormwater (including detention tanks), power and water connections, generally need to be upgraded when a new build is being completed.

It’s unlikely that this will be fully included in the initial pricing as these services are mostly underground and the cost cannot be confirmed until the ground is excavated.

At best, some contracts may have an allowance (“Provisional Sum”) which is adjusted at the end of the contract to reflect the actual cost.

Especially with an addition, it’s more likely that your builder will be able to simply connect into existing services, a significant saving on these costs.

Leaving Home During Building

If you knock down your home, for almost the duration of the building work, you’ll obviously have to live somewhere else – even a campsite in the back garden isn’t going to be possible!

A ‘Knock Down Rebuild’ is usually completed in around double the time it takes to build an addition, and you can only move into a brand new home when the final occupation certificate is issued.

With an extension or addition, it is perfectly acceptable to remain in your home throughout the whole process, even if you take some “time out” during the most disruptive stage.

Builders with wide experience of additions and extensions are usually able to help you live at home during a renovation whilst they build around you, taking care to minimise their impact and seal off your living areas as best as they can.

All in all, the savings from not having to rent for a long period are considerable.

Losing Character … and Value

When you knock down a home, you may create the ‘blank slate’ your want, but in many cases you also destroy aspects of your home that make it attractive to potential buyers in the future.

We recently asked a leading Sydney real estate agent to talk us through the best ways to renovate for profit, and we were struck by how many of the styling tips revealed that many home buyers are looking for original features from fireplaces and mantels to ornate plaster ceiling panels.

Whilst modern homes are appealing to some, it is clear that the majority of home buyers appreciate the well-built, character-ful homes of yester-year.

Unless you think your newly built home will be your ‘forever’ home, considering resale should be an important part of your deliberations.

Heritage Restrictions

In some cases, the choice of whether to rebuild or renovate is taken out of your hands.

Most councils have heritage officers who look to preserve the character of an area.

It’s important that you do your research and speak to your council to work out whether your home is subject to any heritage or building restrictions.

Don’t assume that because one house in your neighbourhood has been rebuilt that you automatically will be able to do the same. There are likely to be a variety of heritage orders within your council’s area.

It could be a costly mistake to go too far down the rebuild path only to discover your plans are simply not possible.

Other Council Restrictions

Aspects of your existing home such as distance from boundaries, height, site cover and materials may not be allowed under current building requirements.

This will have an impact when a home is completely rebuilt and this may significantly change the use of your land, adding further costs.

These aspects are, however, acceptable if part of an existing home. With extensions and additions, only the new work needs to comply with the more restrictive requirements.

And in a well-designed addition, these can be more easily accounted for without significant extra cost.

Hold the Wrecking Ball, Pick Up The Phone

Once you factor in all the above considerations, a ‘Knock Down Rebuild’ project will usually cost at least double the listed price of a project home, and are therefore significantly more expensive than any addition based on actual cost per square metre.

Investigating the alternative to rebuilding your home doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time, and an initial consultation shouldn’t cost you any money.

‘Concept-to-completion’ builders like Addbuild will talk you through your alternatives, and will show you how your home may not be as unsalvageable as you might think.

If you are looking to completely remodel your home, Addbuild would love to be one of the companies you consult with.

With over 35 years in the trade, we’re Sydney’s leading builder specialising in designing and building extensions and additions. We have the deep experience that comes with building well over 1,500 projects.

Feel free to contact our team to discuss your situation by calling (02) 8765 1555 or by using our online form.

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