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Should I renovate?

By Emma Smith

Deciding whether to renovate, rebuild or relocate can be tricky. We have some tips for working out whether you should stay or go.

Have you outgrown your house? If your house is no longer meeting your needs you will have to decide whether to renovate, rebuild or relocate. But how do you make that all important decision?

Renovate, relocate or detonate?

The best starting point is to ask yourself some searching questions: what sort of house do you need? And can your current house deliver?

If you love the location of your current home, but it is no longer meeting your needs, you may want to consider renovating – from remodelling inside, to going up, out the back, or even under. Or you could consider starting over on the same land with a blank canvas by doing a knockdown rebuild.

But if you don’t have the enthusiasm for a building project, selling could be the answer. You may also want to move house if you want to change location, aren’t happy with key attributes like the lie of the land or aspect, or the house cannot grow to the size that you need. Sometimes it can be simplest to start with a different property that meets most or all of your needs.

Consider your needs

Think about your needs, now and in the future. Determine your “must haves” and “nice to haves”. This will help you work out whether you can make renovations to your existing home to make it fit your requirements. Or, it may help you make the decision to knock down and rebuild or move on to another property.

Is the house worth it?

Be informed about the actual condition of your home and the renovation costs that you will incur. Often renovators will pay more because of unexpected surprises found when walls, roof and floorboards are removed, or excavation begins.

To help avoid surprises, do your research by:

  • Consulting professionals such as builders, electricians, building inspectors, and pest inspectors to find out the actual condition of your home.
  • Thinking beyond the future floor plan and assessing those hidden necessities, like wiring, plumbing, the condition of walls and the foundations.

Don’t underestimate

One of the biggest mistakes made with renovations is underestimating the cost of a renovation.

These costs can add up before construction even begins, with expenses including plans being drawn up, architect, surveyor or engineer fees, and  the cost of council applications.

You are unlikely to get a fixed contract for a renovation. It’s wise to take the estimated cost of the renovation and build in a buffer or contingency of twenty percent to allow for the unexpected costs that may arise.

Use a renovation or building calculator to help estimate your renovation costs. These costs will vary depending upon variables such as:

  • the materials you want to use
  • the trades people you use
  • the quality of the work and finishes
  • the size and location of the job.

Get quotes from at least three different builders so that you can evaluate the likely costs.

Don’t overspend

Another of the biggest mistakes made with renovations is overcapitalising, meaning spending more on the property than you could sell it for.

Be guided by researching comparable properties in your area and what they are selling for when renovated. This will help you work out where to pitch your renovation. Also, think about the buyers in your area and what they tend to look for when purchasing property. If in doubt, consult a local real estate agent.

If you are going to stay in the property for seven or more years, overcapitalisation could  be less relevant, because you will get to enjoy the advantages of your renovated property.

Start over?

If your renovation seems too extensive or unachievable in the planning phase, think about a new build or relocating. These may be the simplest solutions if the current home cannot bring you everything you wish for.

A knock down and rebuild is a big undertaking and can take longer than a renovation, but it can ultimately be cheaper with less hidden costs than starting with an existing building. If you are considering this option, be sure to factor in the costs of drawing up plans and getting the necessary building and council approvals, demolition, and alternative accommodation during the rebuild.

Or move on…

Not every home has the potential to become your dream home, so be realistic about the things that won’t change if you renovate or rebuild:

  • Location – if the long walk to the shops or station bugs you, a renovation won’t alter it.
  • Aspect – a north facing rear garden can’t always be created.
  • Neighbours – if the buildings next door overshadow your garden you may not be able to work around this.

Sometimes a fresh start and a new home that ticks most of your boxes could be the cheaper option – but remember to factor in moving costs, legal fees, stamp duty, agents fees, and other costs.

If at any time you wish to discuss your property or the Real Estate market in general, simply contact us so that we can help you achieve your Real Estate goals.


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