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Deciding whether you should stay put and renovate or start afresh and build is not an easy choice. In this article, we look at some of the key factors to consider and offer some expert tips to help you decide which is the right choice for you.

Money talks

The budget you have available to renovate or build will be one of the biggest factors in determining which is the best option for you.

Builder Stephen Thompson of Allworth Homes, whose family business has designed and built homes of all kinds in and around Sydney, Illawarra and the Hunter Valley since 1978, suggests undertaking the following process to help you decide which is best based on your budget.

  • Work out the sale price of your home as is, and the costs, including stamp duty and legals, of relocating to the sort of dwelling you aspire to, in the same area.
  • With that budget, could you renovate your current home to achieve those goals – and would a renovated house in your area fetch a resale price that would result in you getting your money back?
  • Then compare that with what you’d spend to knock down and rebuild the home you want on the same site. Traditionally, Thompson notes, it costs a little more to do so, but a brand new home in an established area is attractive and may prove a good investment if you plan to stay long term.

In considering your budget, factor in and set aside a ‘buffer’ amount for any unexpected costs that may arise over the course of the build or renovation.

Planning is key

Got your heart set on staying put and bringing new life to your current home through renovations? Seek professional advice in the planning stages, before you get too deep into construction mode.

“A skilled architect or designer will understand the complexities and help you understand aspects you may not have considered, especially those not easily seen before demolition commences,” says Phil Beeston, operations manager at S Group Design, a multi-disciplinary studio that integrates architecture and strategic creative design.

“There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a project and realising there’s not enough room for the island bench, or that you haven’t provided a wall space for the lounge suite you’d planned to use as a hero piece.”

Some expert advice may make the difference between deciding to fully or partially renovate or to build instead.

Alongside seeking professional advice in the planning stages of a potential renovation, try to step back and take an objective view of your current home. Consider if it has the fundamental elements required for the renovation to be a complementary one that addresses your needs while also adding value to the dwelling.

For example, a property that has a poor layout, a dated design, or damage such as that caused by timber rot or termites is not the ideal starting point for a renovation as it may become more complicated and costly than demolishing it and building.

Refresh or remove?

Taking a considered and planned approach to either building or renovating will help guide you in the right direction. This may include addressing questions such as:

  • What do you hope to achieve in renovating or building your home?
  • Would renovations address your needs? Or would building be a better, more cost-effective solution?
  • What is your budget?
  • Have you considered all the costs? i.e. Will you be doing elements of the work yourself or hiring professionals? If you are considering renovating, will you continue living in the house or somewhere else?
  • What is the timeframe in which you want to complete the build or renovation? i.e. if you are pregnant and it needs to completed before the baby’s arrival.
  • Have you looked into building regulations and any permits potentially required to undertake any renovations or building?
  • Is your current home a good starting point for renovations?

Consulting professionals about what are realistic options for your home and undertaking research into design ideas and the associated costs will guide your decision towards renovating or building.


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