Renovate or Detonate? Home Improvement vs Demolition.

Renovate or Detonate? This is a question that we are often asked this by home owners when confronted with an older home needing some TLC.

As a professional renovation Building business, people assume that we will automatically recommend renovation.  While this does hold true for many homes with heritage and elements of character, it is not always an automatic answer.

Consider our top 5 factors to consider when making the decision to renovate or detonate.

1 – Consider the area that you live in

If you are in an area rich in character and history, do you really want to strip that away? Consider Perth inner suburbs such as Mount Lawley, Mount Hawthorn, Wembley, North Perth and some parts of Nedlands and Claremont for example. These are beautiful neighbourhoods, rich in history, character and charm. The home owners that have renovated their character homes in these suburbs, have contributed to their heritage streetscape, and continue to add to the charm of these areas.

Keeping a home in the character of the area will almost always pay off in the long term. Future home buyers into the area will be looking there because they love the character and charm. In contrast, if you decide to demolish and build new, you will find that your new home will most likely appear dated in 10-15 years.

In addition, it is likely that in 10-15 years that the new home will be ready or renovations, and will future home buyer want to spend money renovating character or a dated home (think about how quick the Tuscan trend lasted in the 80’s – on a side note, these homes also perform very badly on energy assessments as they are not built to suit our climate)? The answer is that the character home will win out every time. Classic character never goes out of style and will maintain the future appeal of your home and is an investment in your future.

On the other hand, if you are in a run-down area that is in the process of being revitalised with demolitions, subdivisions and new builds, then perhaps a new build is a better option. Areas such as Innaloo, Embleton and Morley are examples of suburbs where demolition and building new is a probably a better option.

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

2 – Factor in Renting costs when building new

When you demolish and build new, you will have the problem of where to stay while construction takes place. This usually means locating a rental property and may also mean paying for storage of household furniture of items. This type of expense that can add up over time and needs to be factored in when you are crunching the numbers.

In most cases, you will be able to live in the home while renovation takes place. Yes, there will be some inconvenience involved, but there is a considerable cost saving to be had, and if budget is a consideration this cannot be ignored as a major saving. Consider a 6 month build at $450 per week in rent, already you are over $10k before you have even estimated storage costs.

3 – Council Considerations and Heritage Precincts

In some Perth areas such as some streets within the City of Stirling, heritage protection zones will be in place. If you are in one of these streets, then renovation is a no-brainer, as the council will simply not approve demolition. Hefty fines apply for those that flout the by-laws.

In suburbs that are not heritage protected, 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. In addition, there are often restrictions about how visible a top storey addition is allowed to be from the street when adding on to a character home. This also applies to building new, where a council will assess how imposing a the home will be on the streetscape. Again the councils are protecting the heritage streetscape.

We strongly recommend talking to your council while still in the early planning stages – or ensure that your designer does – before drawing up your plans, and ensure that you know the constraints that may apply to your street and home.

4- Comparing Renovation Costs against a New Build

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.  These may include items such as renting, storage, and any tasks that are not included such as painting or landscaping which will cost you money at some point.

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.

*Bear in mind that if you choose to build the renovation yourself, that you may not be able to achieve it for the same fixed price as a Builder that has access to trade rates.

Once you are armed with those figures, you should be able to compare a new build with the renovation. Costing a major renovation project for you to perform yourselves as an Owner/Builder is altogether a trickier proposition.

Be very careful and please avoid the awful trap that some home renovators fall into, whereby they decide to do the renovation themselves and run out of money half-way. They then end up living with a half-finished house for many years, and never really get the enjoyment out of their home that they envisaged.

5- Renovation or new Build: the future Capital Gain of your home

Sometime 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 get to enjoy it for many years before you sell. It can be very difficult to estimate what your home may be worth in the future, however, a good real estate agent should be able to compare a renovated home versus a new home and compare the number of rooms, number of square metres, etc…

If you do ask for a professional real estate agent to assist, ask them to also consider the value of a character home over a new home.