Should You Renovate or Rebuild?


This is a popular question that I often discuss with my clients at Pacific Homes. Many people end up in this situation and aren’t sure which way to go. Whether it is the cabin that Grandpa built or the century old home that you have purchased in a mature neighborhood, to rebuild or renovate can be a difficult decision. There are a lot of factors that come into play when deciding between a renovation or a rebuild, such as time, cost, practicality and the unknown.

Many people would assume that renovating an existing structure would be more cost effective than building new but this is certainly not always the case. We have all heard the renovation horror stories of ballooning costs, unforeseen issues in the home and permitting costs that expand alongside the cost of the renovation. Or that friend who started a kitchen or bathroom renovation and found mold or structural issues. The costs kept growing and before they knew it their budget was blown with the project only halfway completed.

Time is always a major consideration as well. Tearing down a building can be completed typically within hours. Renovations can be almost twice the amount of work. Demolition and prep work inside the home during a renovation can add considerable time to the completion of the project, as well as the cost. Unforeseen issues within the plumbing, electrical and structural systems of the home can take time in plan adjustments, re-engineering, and approvals from the local municipality.

Building a new home on the same property or even the same foundation can alleviate a lot of these issues. I am currently working with a client in the Bridgeland area of Calgary who is undergoing this exact same scenario. The renovation wasn’t going to work. The house was built in the 1950’s, with 2×4 walls and 1950’s windows. We live differently in our homes now as well. An office area is now a must have and everybody wants the “open concept” that technology in floor and truss systems allows for in 2017. This varies and is hard to create using an existing structure. I have even designed a few homes over the years, utilizing the existing foundation or adding on a crawlspace foundation for the addition of square footage.

Permitting costs for renovation work can be alarming as well. In the city of Vancouver, once construction costs exceed $5,000, the builder will need to meet certain new energy efficiency requirements. Over $50,000 and the walls may need to be deepened to allow for thicker insulation. If the project reaches around $95,000, city engineers will usually order a new sewer connection at the cost of $16,000 and if the renovation reaches 50% of the replacement value of the home, a sprinkler system would have to be installed. P.S. they aren’t cheap.

In mature neighborhoods, your resale value will be much higher as well. Similar size homes in similar neighborhoods can see vast differences in value when comparing a home built in 1917 vs. 2017. I have loved many of the old homes that I used to live in, unwanted immaterial roommates, but I would never have purchased that old of a home. Wiring, plumbing and heating system may need to be replaced, drywall, insulation, and flooring… Oh, my.

Rebuilding a new home may be the best option for you. Quicker completion timelines, controlled costs as well as reaching modern day energy efficiency standards will all make the construction of your new home a positive experience.

Need help deciding which route is best for you? Give us a call and we will help you find the best solution.