SHOULD YOU KNOCK DOWN
This is the question that many home owners will ask themselves at some stage of their lives. Owning a house is a big part of most Australian’s lives, and creating the perfect family environment is a common dream that we all wish to achieve. When we are younger we may buy property in an area that is less than ideal, but eventually as we move and upgrade from home to home, we often tend to settle into an area that our family really likes, and while the house has outgrown our needs, the home’s location is perfect.
There are an enormous range of reasons why people do not want to leave their local area. You might really like the local schools that your kids are attending, you might be living close to work or have a fantastic relationship with your neighbours. You may have great views that your current house is not taking full advantage of.
Whatever your reason, you are not alone. People are knocking down their current houses and rebuilding in droves. According to the Housing Industry Association (HIA) approximately 210,000 knockdown rebuild projects are undertaken every year, and this figure is only growing.
So what does “knockdown and rebuild” actually mean? John Ugarkovic from Buildcraft Constructions explains: “Knockdown rebuild basically involves demolishing an existing home, so you’ve got an empty block of land to work with, and then building a brand-new home in its place.”
Sounds like a simple solution? Well sometimes it is when you do the research, set your budget that you can comfortably afford and then choose the right builder.
With the shortage of available land in and around Sydney in established areas, many home buyers are turning to knockdown and rebuild to achieve their dream of having a brand new home in their favourite suburb. Although in some cases a simple renovation is all that your house requires, many people are doing the research and realising that the benefits of a total knockdown and rebuild far outweigh the advantages of renovating. The main reason for this is the value for money.
When is it better to knockdown and rebuild?
Choosing between a knock down and rebuild versus renovations can be difficult. It can be a mental hurdle for some home owners if they have already invested some money and effort into improving their homes, only to realise that it didn’t achieve what they had hoped. Often it is good money after bad, tens of thousands of dollars on renovations and yet your house is still nowhere near complete. If you just want to update a bathroom and maybe a pergola out the back, then renovation is probably the better option for you. However, if you want additional rooms, a second storey, or to create “open plan living”, then a knock down and rebuild could well be the cheaper option.
It is a misconception that renovations are the cheaper option. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear horror stories of homeowners who discover that they have blown their budget halfway through their major home makeover project.
Kylie Flower, from Roselea Homes points out, “When renovating you are most likely to come across ‘surprises’ that you didn’t know about, for example, faulty electrical and plumbing issues which could potentially lead to additional dollars to fix or replace. This is not the case with knockdown rebuilds as there are no hidden costs; you know the final price when you sign on the dotted line.”
Another reason why knockdown rebuilds come out on top in the value-for-money stakes is because building a new home is often more economical than making drastic improvements to your existing one. “Any renovation that is greater than 100 square meters normally costs more than knocking down and rebuilding” states Len Goulding, the architect from Home Team. “If you’re planning to add a room or two - that’s fine - but when you start adding more rooms or moving major areas like kitchens and bathrooms, the renovating project becomes too expensive.”
David Mackenzie from Horizon Homes were recently awarded the Master Builders Association (MBA) for Excellence in Construction for Exhibition Homes and the Housing Industry Association (HIA) CSR NSW Housing Award for Display Homes. He agrees that “it’s often more cost effective to start again rather than extending or renovating. I’ve had clients that have come to us after they have had renovation plans drawn and priced and realise that a new home is better value for money.”
You can also avoid some of the many costs associated with buying another second hand home. As Dean Young from Young Homes points out: “Knockdown rebuilds on your own home can also save you agent’s commission, stamp duty and legal fees - costs which in themselves can add up to a considerable amount of money.”
So do you want to knock down and rebuild?
The best way to determine if you are ready to knock down and rebuild is to ask questions and research via people who have actually done it. If you notice that someone in your local area has just done something similar, don’t be afraid to knock on their door and simply ask them about their experiences. Most people love to share their stories, both positive and negative! Enter the process with an open mind, and ask questions such as who did you use, how did you find them, and what would you do to make the process simpler next time?
Then you should speak to the people who are going to be affected by your knock down and rebuild - your neighbours. If you don’t even know your neighbours then it’s time to start making friends with them. It is far more beneficial to have them on-side during the planning and development stage than to spend a lot of time and money on developing the dream home to only find out they will fight you to the hilt if you add that second storey. While its unlikely that any neighbours objection will ever stop a new home from being built, it can slow the council approval process, and create neighbourhood bitterness and divide.
Speak with your local council and ask their advice as to how you can ensure your new home is approved quickly and without fuss. What might seem like a reasonable building application to you might be impossible to achieve in your local area. This is also another area that local knowledge may prove invaluable to you. By selecting an experienced builder that has already built in your area, you are drawing into that wealth of experience and knowledge without paying any extra for the information.
You should then research extensively who you want to build your project. Do you want to go with a small local builder, a large reputable company with dozens of contractors, or with a reputable display home company.
Peter Meredith, the Master Builders Association NSW Director of Housing recommends that visiting home display village centres such as Homequest Display Village is an excellent starting point for homeowners considering a knockdown rebuild. “Homeowners contemplating a knockdown rebuild are attracted to display centres as they gain an idea of modern and sustainable features that they can incorporate into the design of their brand new home - and the builders at the centres are able to accommodate that”.
By also using a builder from a quality display village centre such as Homequest, you have the distinct added advantage of being able to walk through and experience the ‘new home’ first hand before you sign up to the project. Imagine your family living in that space, are you happy with the bedroom sizes, what are the most important features to you and how will they positively impact on your life.
Rather than commissioning a designer, architect and builder to design your dream house and then try and imagine what it feels and looks like, you can spend half a day actually walking through the Homequest Display Homes and experience first hand what it would be like to live in one of the many homes on display. We recommend that you take photos of the block where you are currently living and speak with the very experienced builders on location about your specific needs. Remember that the homes you see only represent a small selection of the many homes available to each builder.
It is a long process when you decide to knockdown and rebuild, but by doing your research, talking to the experts and selecting a quality experienced builder, your dream and vision will be soon realised and your family’s lifestyle completely transformed!
This article is written by Homequest Bella Vista Display Villages, a boutique display village showcasing a range of exclusive and prestige homes designed and constructed by some of Sydney’s most solid and respected builders.
If you wish to reproduce this article in any way, you will require the written permission by Homequest Bella Vista Display Village. Contact us to apply.
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