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Build, buy or renovate? A helpful guide.

Build, buy or renovate? A helpful guide.

There comes a time when your home starts to show signs of age, or your needs change, and you want to make improvements to your living environment — it could be new flooring, an upgrade to your kitchen, more space for a growing family, or perhaps you want to make your dream home a reality. So what do you do? Do you buy, do you renovate, or do you demolish and build something new? Whichever option you consider, changing your home is a journey of discovering what you want, what you need, and how you want to live now and into the future.

Here is a guide to help you navigate the option that’s best for you.

Action plan

No matter the size of your home improvement project, thorough planning is crucial to a successful outcome. Setting clear goals and a realistic timeframe will help you determine the option that is most cost-effective and beneficial to you and your family.

Start by making a wish list of everything you want to change in the short and long term. For instance, itemise the areas that could be repaired, replaced or revamped, then decide what is considered a ‘need’ versus a ‘want’. For example, how much do you need a new kitchen — is it functional or just a bit dated? Compare this to a leaky shower causing mould and damage in the bathroom. One scenario may be more about aesthetics, while the other may be a necessary renovation to prevent further damage and improve functionality.

Taking the time to identify the nice-to-haves and the must-haves will help you to prioritise and make an effective and achievable plan.

Weighing up your options

When looking to upgrade or upscale, sometimes the easiest or most obvious option isn’t always the best, so be sure to consider all possibilities.

Buying can be a good choice if you don’t have time to renovate or demolish and rebuild, and if you don’t have any ties to your current home or area. If you have more specific needs, then renovating or rebuilding might be the right option for you.

There are many rewarding elements to renovating, especially if you plan on some DIY. However, remember that it can often be an arduous process, so weigh up the financial and practical implications, particularly timeframes and disruptions to your daily life. Building and/or development approvals will be required if you are planning to renovate or rebuild, so ensure you have catered for these in your timeline and budget.

Before starting a home renovation project, carefully consider the impact that an extra room or ensuite can make to your indoor and outdoor areas, and whether the addition will actually improve or impinge on the functionality of your home.

When renovating, you will need to be wary of existing electrical wiring, plumbing, insulation and load-bearing walls. While you may be able to work with what you have, sometimes they can become expensive hurdles if you haven’t considered them in your planning. Don’t forget to make contingencies in the event you have to redo old workmanship.

Renovating becomes a feasible option if your home is heritage listed or has period features that you would like to preserve. Likewise, if you love your street or suburb, or you need to stay local for schooling or other reasons, renovating or rebuilding can make perfect sense, especially if you haven’t found a property for sale in the area that meets your needs.

When it comes to bringing your dream home to life, how possible is it to achieve your goals by building on your existing piece of land? Have you stopped to consider that maybe a smart renovation project could achieve the same outcome?

However, there may be several reasons a demolition and rebuild project makes more sense than a renovation. Starting fresh can give you a chance to reconfigure your floor plan to take advantage of your land size and really add a personal touch to your home. Likewise, a demolition and rebuild project gives you the opportunity to upgrade and future-proof any old wiring, plumbing, insulation and structural inclusions that exist.


A crucial part of the planning process is setting a budget. You can dream until your heart’s content but without understanding what’s financially viable, the time and effort spent on planning will go to waste.

Start by looking at what you can afford and how the cost of your improvements will fit into that. Then, take the time to estimate and research all of the expenses, trying to be as detailed as possible.

Some people will need to sell their current home first. If this applies to you, then consider how much work you need to do to your home before you put it on the market. You might find that it needs repainting or reflooring, or that essential repairs and garden maintenance are required. Don’t forget to take into consideration other costs such as stamp duty, legal fees, building and energy reports, and so on.

If you are considering renovating or rebuilding, your expenses may include demolition and/or construction and labour costs, design and architect fees, landscaping, legal fees, furniture and decorating, among others.

To ensure you create an accurate budget, obtain multiple quotes from builders and seek advice from your conveyancer and local Peter Blackshaw Real Estate office.

While creating a budget may take some time and effort, it will ultimately pay dividends as you compare all scenarios in order to achieve your ideal home. 


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For all of your property needs, contact your local Blackshaw office

Blackshaw Corporate

27 Bougainville Street
Manuka ACT 2603