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Is it worth renovating rather than rebuilding a double-brick?

Amy C
last month
last modified: last month

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Comments (19)

  • C P
    last month

    I'd knock down the garage and build a pavilion add on in this space with a glass walkway connection to the main house. This means your extension is essentially for new build cost and some of it can be done while still living in the main house. Put a kitchen living area in here and then reconfigure existing house with minimal changes. We did this for under $400k but only had to convert existing kitchen living into Master ensuite etc and include laundry and powder room.

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  • Kate
    last month

    That depends on a range of factors but could spend that much. Without seeing the place. I would have thought you could get a more modest walk through robe and en-suite in the bedroom and leave the bathroom in situ. Add a powder room into a corner of the large living space. This saves a lot of demo, and your plan had a tiny main bath and massive en-suite, whilst I have nothing against a massive ensuite there needs to be some proportion there. Utility becomes a pantry or study.

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    I'd guesstimate you're spending around $350k for your works. Floor boards are probably already there, double glazing might be the budget killer though. A new house would be significantly more than this, say around $500k+ for one similar size to what you're wanting. This would be a project home however and probably fairly standard fit out. $600k+ for a custom home by a good builder perhaps. Remember you have around $20k to demolish existing. Higher council application fees for the new house and on it goes. Rent somewhere else while its being built so so 6 months of rental in Sydney..... Sky's the limit.... Budget first then go from there. $350k is still not bad for a renovation/addition certainly once compared to finding another $150k minimum to move up to a new house. The extra number sounds minor until you go to the bank and look at repayments, being able to service the loan, etc..... A quality renovation can be better than a new build but sometimes a new house can knock the existing for 6.
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  • Amy C
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    When you say "could cost that much" do you mean 850k for a reno? That's shocking to me! I know I've got expensive tastes, but even then... ;)

    Here's my second attempt, leaving bath and kitchen in same places, utility to be butler's pantry. Living becomes master bed with small walk-through robe and l-shaped ensuite - trying to create the "Dream Ensuite" with freestanding tub, his and hers basins, etc. But that makes the kitchen narrower etc. Of course I'd consult a design pro if I did go the renovation route, at this stage I'm just trying to do cost estimates. And of course leaving things in place means I could potentially stagger the reno, ie make the place liveable and add the extension at back, move in, and then slowly add the ensuite, replace the kitchen, etc...

  • dreamer
    last month

    If you have a solid double brick home, that has original art decor features, then I would be doing my best to renovate and extend.
    You said you looked at a new build to $850k OMG. So spending $400k on a renovation would be a huge cost saving, and in a sustainability aspect, a lot better for the environment.
    If you intend to have a bigger bathroom than your kitchen, I would rethink your priorities. Which room do you spend more time in. You would be spending a fortune on a room used by maybe two people. Spending the money and square metres on a decent size kitchen for the whole family and visitors is a better spend to me.
    It is a shame the north aspect is on the right, where all your plumbing is. A new extension could incorporate kitchen living and dining, running along the south boundary, with big doors opening up to the north. Leaving original part of home for bedrooms, bathrooms, utility area, and separate lounge. (Similar to your second design)

  • oklouise
    last month

    we've renovated a 1950s double brick including two new bathrooms, relocated kitchen and extensive alterations to internal walls, new roof shape, extension, all new wiring, plumbing, windows, new double garage, painting, floor coverings etc at a cost of about $650.000 plus several years of DIY and at least six months when the house was uninhabitable..the problem with renovating is that the original house restricts what you can do but the best option depends on the condition of the existing buildings and being able to find enough money and great professionals from design to completion but you should start by identifying a better floorplan that includes enough bedrooms without sacrificing the best aspect for living area..eg when completely rebuilding a bathroom don't be restricted to the same location and if you have northern aspect and space along the sides of the house don't restrict extensions to the backyard...HOUZZ offers an opportunity to test various ideas but that depends on more information ..what is the distance from the sides of the house to north and south boundaries, are there any old extensions or outbuildings and what are they built out of, can you post a view of the roof and what parts of the house do you like and dislike?

    Amy C thanked oklouise
  • Amy C
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Thanks oklouise and dreamer, a 650k vs 850k differential doesn't sound like all that much :(

    The 850k is including all upgrades etc

    If we renovate, would do major work while not living there for a few months (eg demo, extension, floors, fresh paint, new kitchen), but am thinking about doing some things (eg renovating the main existing bath and laundry, adding new ensuite) later on to save on costs. I'm not sure if that would even make much of a difference cost-wise!

    There is a garage outside but I think the ceiling is lower than that of the main house by a bit, not sure if it's worth trying to raise the ceiling and add on? It seems simpler to me to demolish if needed.an aerial shot (that includes garage and carport roof) - looking at it now I have doubts as to whether an extension would work well :(

  • Kate
    last month

    A friend just spent around 850 on a Reno and small extension. They gutted it keeping bedrooms and bathroom walls and hall. Not double brick. They made slight not cost effective additions to rear and right side as had rear constraints namely a pool and levels. Don’t forget your landscaping costs too in your budget. They can be substantial so get it all priced before you commit to any option. As I said it all depends on you budget and dreams turning into reality

  • oklouise
    last month

    the difference in costs for us was that although we planned the whole renovation and organised all the necessary Council Approvals and booked a builder well in advance (best ones are always in demand and we waited almost two years for ours) we divided the reno into stages and spread the work and costs over years but for you i would be attempting to minimise changes to the original house for immediate improvement in daily living with small kids and restrict major changes to an extension including a new master suite for when you need more space and i would be researching options for extending into the front yard as well as the back and sides..do any of your neighbours have garages or buildings closer to the front fence? check with council about any restrictions for all extension but also ask how you could use the front yard as well as options for a separate studio/granny flat in the backyard that could be a long term option for multi purpose spaces for when kids are older

  • PRO
    CHRISTINE HALL ARCHITECTS LTD
    last month

    Hi Amelia,

    It comes down to so many factors and not just money. To mention just a few, are you going to be compromising too much of what you want in what the existing house can offer you by modifying it. Personally I would always try to work with what you have for numerous reasons, mainly retaining the earths resources and reusing what you can. The existing house might have some character that you want to keep or it might not. Does it have sound structure that does not require costly repairs before you start? Can the circulation be worked out well utilizing the existing house keeping in mind that the entry might now be coming into the bedroom zone rather than near the living space. Do you want to have a master bedroom suite that is removed from the other bedrooms or do you want to keep them all together. Does the existing house make good use of the site with good indoor outdoor spaces and access to the sunlight - the most important factor in improving the quality of life in your home? Be careful not just to extend on more rooms. This seldom works and the core of the house tends to get lost. You need to look at the total house and site as a whole. In terms of cost, ask a couple of builders what it would cost for a renovation giving the existing square meter-age and what size you want to end up with. Compare this with their price for demolition and rebuild from scratch for the same size. Ask several builders as some prefer to renovate and some prefer to build new so they will price what they don't want to do at a higher price.


    Good luck,

    Christine.

  • Amy C
    Original Author
    last month

    Thank you everyone for the suggestions! The idea of doing a pavillion extension connected by an enclosed corridor is appealing, I've been reading a few Undercover Architect blog posts that talk about this. Seems it will be expensive either way, but at least with a renovation (pavillion style) I can control timing and budget somewhat, especially if I keep the right side mostly as is with the bath etc. And of course, the main issue is that my personal tastes veer away from new builds and towards older homes!

    @oklouise, front setback is possibly at the max, I've been checking new builds and their front extension is not any further out front than ours (some are a bit further in!), so I doubt it'll be practical to extend in front or that we'd get council permission.

    @C P your story gives me hope haha! With everyone talking about 850k extensions I'm a bit worried. But I would be happy to get floors+paint done, and then live there while the pavillion extension is done at the back. I also love the idea of keeping the existing kitchen until the new one is installed! That will allow us to live there without eating takeaway every day for six months :) I will discuss these possibilites with draftsperson/architect. Hopefully we can work something out.

    @CHRISTINE HALL ARCHITECTS LTD thank you for the suggestion about builders, I might hire a draftsperson/architect who will also go through the builder tender process and project manage since I'm a bit nervous to do it myself, this being my first renovation and all! (I know it'll add to the cost, but I'd rather pay for that service and peace of mind)

    i don't mind entry going through the bedroom zone since I'm used to older houses here where they do that. I'd like to have at least one bedroom near the master since with little ones, we find ourselves frequently up at night dealing with toddler-ey issues!

    I am going to have to think about the floorplan a bit and will possibly hire an architect/draftsperson who does an initial "here's what's possible at this price point" sort of consult.

  • PRO
    Paul Di Stefano Design
    last month

    Hi Amelia,


    Of course you could extend your house, AND get a great outcome....that's actually relatively easy to demonstrate......but how exactly? and what will it cost? ......everyone will have a different opinion and take on it...and I'd actually argue other people's opinion on whether you should do this or that or spend this much or that much is in fact arguably irrelevant - all that matters in these situations is what you want/need and working out the balance between that and the investment involved, whether it's viable or sensible or both or not, and in what particular format that looks like....it's not something you can get the answer in asking the next door neighbour or a friend who's just done a project. Every situation is different and unique because it comes back to personal priorities and financial capacities and opinions on what a particular lifestyle is worth to them. There's no online calculator or simple answers for this stuff!


    $850K may sound like a lot of money, but it's all relative. Some people may think you're crazy considering spending that on a knock down, and argue you should work with what you have. A builder may tell you you're crazy to spend $650K on a reno when he can supposedly give you twice the bang for buck for new build.....to rationalise the options we must understand that there is a complete difference between what are you getting for a new build $850 in a project builder land vs a customised $650K renovation utilising existing structures & character.........it's not accurately or fairly comparing apples & apples.......you may find you're taking a downgrade in quality with spending more on a new build option, of course depending upon the builder / product / design etc.....it depends on the size and complexity of the design. It's always an exercise of working through & balancing certain project requirements in relation to project scale and quality level against available budget within specific context.


    This is a classic dilemma we deal with regularly - that is, owners considering what is the logical path forward for their property.....there are always options and it's never right or wrong. There is an issue in looking at something purely in terms of cost when there is not enough information around WHAT exactly you can potentially achieve for $X in one particular option vs the next. Just because something is less in cost doesn't necessarily mean it's the best value option and vice versa. It requires specialised analysis and exploration in order to provide the accurate answers. What someone was able to achieve say for $650K in one scenario is not applicable to the next example. Every project, particularly when talking about renovations & extensions, are unique and have their own complexities. Also $650K in owner builder DIY land is completely different to $650K in building contract financed by bank land.....in a contractual situation take the number, remove GST, remove builder's margin and you're left with something like 75% left to play with for the actual raw construction costs.


    In regards to a renovation scenario, it's likely more accurately a renovation AND extension scenario. The thing is with renovating and design solutions for them, there comes a point when it becomes false economy on a dollar for dollar comparison exercise to substantially change that you have. When you consider reno scenarios, there typically needs to be some inherent value to the existing, such as in existing character or layout, that makes sense so you're not having to rework the whole thing.


    So how do you work this stuff out? Where do you start? Well, we deal with this scenario with a "feasibility" stage of service that has repeatedly proven successful to help clarify project options and scenarios properly so home owners (for example) can make an informed decision one way or the other. It involves properly exploring viability and potential in broad form for certain project scopes, so for example you can see what is involved if you renovated and added a bedroom and a bathroom and how that would look and what it wold cost vs a more conservative option that maintained an existing 3 bedroom format prioritising spend on the main living area of the home.


    One thing we find is important with growing families is the accommodation of a 2nd or flexible living space, which becomes higher use and helpful for living options as families/kids grow and move through different stages. It's also super important to ensure that the home is well balanced and properly scaled, in that say living spaces are not undersized for the number of bedrooms - eg it's a big fail to have lots of large bedrooms with a generous ensuite but ignore/retain only a limited relatively sized living area. Of course everyone has their own requirements and need to work out how exactly they want to live and what their priorities are, however when it comes to designing solutions for these things, particularly when banks and valuers get involved, you have to make sure that the proposal is aligned with the investment from a value point of view...so if you are spending $500K simply rejigging an existing 3 bedroom only to make it nicer, it could potentially be considered over capitalising. Of course location makes a difference with this aspect of the discussion........


    In terms of timeframes involved for renovation/extension projects, again it depends on what the exact scope is, how much fit-out is being done, the availability of sub-contractors, the capacity of the builder to manage the process efficiently to minimise downtime. The same scope renovation could take anything between 6 - 12 months, the difference/variance in timeframe dependant upon any one or combination of the above factors........


    Sorry for the elongated answer / info overload but unfortunately, there are no simple easy black & white answers for you.....BUT there are professionals with the knowledge who can assist. The one piece of advice I'll provide is at least make sure you are making informed decisions for these significant investments , and typically that will involve a certain degree of investment in professional advice, particularly at the front end of the process (an investment for "the" investment shall we say!). Take whatever a builder says with a grain of salt, particularly when it comes to design outcomes, and remember numbers are only numbers until they're contractually established to a certain set of documents and specifications...........


    Good luck!


    Cheers PD :)


    www.pauldistefanodesign.com


  • PRO
    CHRISTINE HALL ARCHITECTS LTD
    last month

    Hi Amelia,

    Get an idea from builders what their price per square metre would be for this type of work. Divide that by your budget and don't make the build any bigger. Always know how much you are in for before you start with building consent approval plans etc. It can be costly to re work it and you will always be disappointed if you can't have as much as you thought you were going to get. I.e, if they say $3,000.00 per square metre and you have $250,000.00, don't build more than 80 sq.metres. Keep a bit in reserve for renovations as they always throw up a few unknowns and you will need some landscaping budget too, even if it is just new grass. Ask if their rate is for the renovation work or the new build work or a mix.

    Get the money sorted and enjoy the rest of the journey.

    Regards,


    Christine.

  • Austere Hamlet
    last month

    Honestly if you have this much cash to spend. Sell the house and buy a different one with the increased budget you were going to use for reno's. You will get more for you money, it's move in ready and you don't have to live around major renovations. Yes, yes you will need to leave your block and probably your immediate neighbourhood but the inconvenience of that pales in comparison to the inconvenience of not having a usable kitchen or bathroom or months on end.

  • oklouise
    last month
    last modified: last month

    my suggestions include an ens at the front with a skillion roof including upgrades to the entry porch, convert rear bedroom to laundry and pantry, original laundry and utility to bedroom 3, refresh bathroom and toilet, new kitchen and dining room and potential skillion roofed family room.. but i would keep the original upgraded carport and garage to retain the original footprint that may not be able to be duplicated on the boundary with a new building..and there's space for a future mudroom link to extra living areas or bedrooms...these alterations should avoid too much change to the original house, could be staged over time and the new front ens and entry could be designed as a feature to enhance the period look of the house with decorative wall cladding


  • Amy C
    Original Author
    last month

    @Paul Di Stefano Design thank you so much for your detailed response, it is such a great answer and I love it. I might pm you with some questions. I am hoping to hire an experienced design pro to check feasibility of reno (I know it's a different beast from theory to when you actually look at a property, check the roofing structures, etc), I wonder if this is a standalone service you provide or if you can recommend someone who does? I've found two architects who do provide this service, and I'm planning to contact them soon, but I really appreciate your take on the "not apples to apples" comparison and the need for the current structure to have some value in order to retain it, which is exactly what I've been thinking.


    @Austere Hamlet there are some issues with moving, this is unfortunately a tightly-held area and most properties for sale are either townhouses (no go) or far beyond my budget.


    @oklouise I love that concept of extending out the front bedroom to create the ensuite! You are right, I could use the opportunity to play up some period design. You are also right about the advantages of leaving the garage/carport structure as is, although I will need to check with someone more familiar with the council policies. I will need to learn more about skillion roofs, I keep reading how hard it is to modify/extend roof structures especially due to drainage/gutter issues, it seems skillion roofs don't have such issues?

  • oklouise
    last month
    last modified: last month

    your existing front porch roof looks like a skillion (almost flat) roof and is tucked under the eaves of the main house and the new outside walls could be clad or rendered and maybe add a vintage window and adding the extra BIW in the bedroom allows for the ens door to be hinged to open without crowding the floor space inside the ens..i would also have the new family room (and link etc) with a skillion roof and not change the main roof in any way

  • PRO
    Paul Di Stefano Design
    last month
    last modified: last month

    No problem Amelia. Feel free to ask me some further questions, happy to discuss further. Yes the feasibility study can be a standalone contained service stage if so sought. It's actually the only way we will commence consultation on any project regardless of the nature of scope or whether we're engaged for full scope or not. We actually won't set any fees or request any commitment beyond that because we never know until this stage is completed exactly what the project scope will look like or whether it's viable or not. Sometimes it can be the only stage of service we provide for people, as sometimes it's just about giving people clarity around what's possible, and then they take time to think about it, or realise that possibly it's not worth pursuing a project unless it's a certain option that may be either beyond budget, or possibly our services beyond don't make sense... but in most cases we find it naturally leads into following through with subsequent design consultation - it really all depends on the individual scenario and subsequent client decisions around their project priorities and budget balancing - there's absolutely no commitment involved/required beyond this stage, (that's just the way we work, some other architects are all or nothing) but I'd argue that regardless this first exploratory/analytical information gathering step the most critical and important design investment for any project.

    Hope this helps

    Cheers

    PD

  • JE C
    last month

    Unless you are completely unconcerned by resale value and whether your build will add value, I would talk to local real estate agents about valuations of either option. Depending on your area, it may be a great idea to spend $850k on a reno, or a terrible idea. Also, in an area where character frontages are valued, it may not be sensible to build in front of the existing frontage. I think you need to consider some similar houses and see what people are doing to them, whether that will add value, and also whether it suits your needs and taste.Good luck :)


  • ddarroch
    last month

    Am I right in thinking that the block has an eastern frontage, & the home is pushed up against the northern boundary, with living areas facing south?

    This is exactly the opposite of what's recommended. Normally you want to build close to the southern boundary, with room on the northern side, where the living areas would be located. Generally, south facing living areas are dark, & can be cold in winter.

    Personally I wouldn't spend a significant amount of money on a renovation, if the home was going to be compromised by being poorly orientated.