So you've bought a "primo" piece of property with a not so "primo" fixer-upper on it, and now you're torn.
Should you think about renovating the old place, which in spite of some obvious problems, does have a certain charm, or should you just rase it and start from scratch?
It's a decision faced by thousands of buyers -- even those who start out believing they can "fix up" the fixer-upper, but soon encounter obstacles they hadn't previously considered.
This is one instance where you definitely don't want to make an emotionally driven decision. Instead, it's best to weigh certain factors to make a decision that's based on reality rather than wishful thinking!
Factor One: Considering the Cost
For many, this will be the primary consideration.
Is it cheaper to tear the house down and start over on the same site, or is a cost-effective renovation project feasible?
Interestingly in many cases it is actually cheaper to knock down rebuild then renovate and you get a brand-new home tailored exactly to what you want.
Here are some things to look at before attempting to answer that question:
- Look at the basic structure. Remember the old movie "The Money Pit" with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long? Their contractor pointed out a basic truth at the end of that hilarious flick: If the foundation -- which in our case takes the entire structural integrity into consideration -- is good, the home might be worth renovating. If not, it's almost certainly going to be cheaper to just tear it down and start from scratch! (Especially when you consider this next point ...)
- Be aware that there could be surprises with a renovation project. Just remember, even if an inspection reveals that a renovation is feasible and you're really in love with the existing house, you'll still need to prepare for the possibility of finding additional problems as the project moves forward. That's just the nature of old houses! Obviously, finding something major along the way could substantially raise the estimate on the price of a renovation. The moral? Make sure to build in some "wiggle room" when creating a budget for renovating. If that feels too risky to you, you're probably better off to stick with a contracted price for building from scratch.
Factor Two: Buyer Beware -- Are You Dealing With a Historic House?
This is important. There's a big difference between an old house and a heritage house. The fact that you view the existing home as just an old house that needs lots of work to become habitable, doesn't mean that the city or town it's in is on the same page.
If the house is on a historical or heritage register, you may be violating the law if you tear it down. And if that happens to be the case, there will be rules (heritage overlay laws) about what you can and can't do to the house, since it's essentially a protected property.
Obviously, you'll need to check with the city council to learn the status of the house before you even consider buying the property or you could be in for a very rude awakening!
Factor Three: Take a Hard Look at Your Time Frame
Demolishing, removing and then rebuilding a house can take time, but the results are usually well worth waiting for. And it's often much easier and quciker then renovating.
Sometimes people choose to renovate instead of build new because they can do it in stages as long as the home is deemed fit to occupy.
But don't be fooled into thinking that this option is without its compromises. You may have to live in some pretty undesirable conditions for quite some time!
Factor Four: Consider it From a Long-Term Perspective
If you're planning to live on the property for the long-term, rebuilding is usually wiser from a strictly financial perspective.
That's because everything that goes into a house is essentially on a ticking timer, as Lee Wallander, writing for The Spruce, puts it. In other words, everything has a lifespan.
Your roof will last maybe 20 years if you're lucky. The central air may last 10-15 years. The windows will perform well for 25-50 years, depending on quality. You get the point. A built-from-scratch house is all new. The clock is just starting to "tick" on everything that goes into its construction.
Factor Five: Decide Which Will Yield the Results You Want for the Least Amount of Money
Even when the home is structurally sound, renovating is seldom the cheapest way to go Don't forget that even with a renovation, there will still be "old" parts of the house that are going to need maintenance or replacing down the road -- sometimes a lot sooner than you think!
Rebuilding, on the other hand, is almost alwaysgoing to net you a better result at a better price in the long run since everything will be brand new and energy-efficient, plus the new structure will be designed and built with your needs and tastes in mind, rather than somebody else's.
A Final Note
If you decide that a new home is the way to go, be sure to contact us at Champion Homes in Hoxton Park, New South Wales.
Since 1998, Champion Homes has built a reputation for quality design, workmanship and service across the greater Sydney region.
We can even offer you a "package deal" -- both a brand new home and the land it sits on, so you don't have to worry about tearing anything down to begin with!
We specialise in building modern homes that are as flexible as the needs and desires of the people living in them! That's one of the chief reasons that we've been in business for nearly twenty years and counting!