Should I build a new house or renovate the existing one?

This is always a very difficult question to directly answer because there are so many variables to take into account. Most inner-city suburbs have “heritage overlays” which prohibit the demolition of houses and spell out what you can and cannot do when renovating an existing house.  All properties with a heritage overlay will require a “Town Planning Permit” before any renovation works can be carried out.

Deciding whether to “renovate” or “demolish and re-build” is a very personal decision and will depend on numerous individual factors.

I always advise my clients to make up a short list of the five main “pros and cons” for a new house and a renovation.  Below is a short list of positives and negatives that will help you to clarify which option is best for you.




Preservation of old houses

Compromises on design, layout & spaces

Retain lovely period features

Town planning process and advertising

Can be done for a smaller budget  Much harder to achieve 6-star energy rating
Shorter building timeline  Shorter term ownership “life span”
Popular decision with your neighbours May involve some lifestyle compromises
Sometimes possible to live in the house whilst it’s being renovated Not possible to live in , require alternative living arrangements
Preference for the location over size  May not resolve all family needs
High “feel good” factor  

New build

Start with a “clean slate”  Longer building timeline
Longer term ownership solution  Need a larger budget
Fewer compromises in design layout & size  More significant changes to the “streetscape
Able to achieve a more sustainable “thermally efficient " home Short-term environmental impact from demolition and waste
Able to make a more significant design statement  

Ultimately, the main determining factor will be your budget, but here are a few additional questions to help you make a decision:


  1. Do you really like the existing building?
  2. Does the existing house fit in with the existing streetscape?
  3. Are there any council overlays or restrictions on the property?
  4. Does the existing house have any “heritage significance?
  5. Have you done a renovation before?
  6. How long do you plan to live in this house?
  7. Will there be any significant compromises if you renovate?
  8. What will be the “end value” of the property?
  9. Does it make economic sense?
  10. Does it feel right?

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