We’ve received a number of questions in the last few weeks on the topic of, “how do I decide whether to renovate a ‘do up’ or build a new home?”
Of course, there is no simple answer and a lot depends on your budget, your DIY skills and enthusiasm and how much time you want to spend on a project.
Imagine that you’re looking for a new house and you find some land that comes with a house that needs work already in place.
It’s tempting and fun to draw up some plans, move some walls, add another room and ensuite. But before you go ahead, have your eyes wide open about the potential costs and compliance issues. Even if it’s only a quarter of the plan that you’re really changing, it can impact so much.
Brace yourself. The builder will want to give you an exact quote for the changes, and if they could they would – but they just can’t. They will be thinking: ‘there’s a lot I don’t know until I’ve ripped off the wallboard, floor, roof. Where are the hidden problems such as rot, damage, unconsented work? How do I price it, win the job and not lose money?’
There’s a possibility upgrades will be needed for beams, windows, walls, roofing, wiring, plumbing – not only to provide the changes you are asking for, but also to meet the current building code. Anything touched must meet the current code. Things nearby, or problems discovered during the job need to be addressed too.
Ideally the materials in the renovated area need to be sympathetic with the original house. Windows need to be matched with the existing ones, or they may all need upgrading. Weatherboards need to be found or manufactured to the same profile but thankfully they are painted over so they don’t necessarily need to be the same material. Wooden floors are beautiful but finding the right wood can be expensive, and it normally needs machining to match the width/thickness. Getting these parts right will look spectacular so it’s worth doing it right if you’re going to do it at all.
Then there is everything outside the house. That extra room and toilet/shower will add volume to the septic tank if you are rural. There’s an additional $15,000 or more right there!
The other option is to sell the house and have someone take it away on a truck, which leaves you with a serviced section. One advantage of starting from scratch is that it avoids all the complications of renovations, means that you get you what you want, and at a much more accurate price. It’s harder to get a house with an “old character” if you are building from new but that too is possible.
So, take a fresh look at that property you’re looking to buy. There is a lot of potential in the land but what to do with the house? The choice is yours.