When compared to renovations, new builds are less complicated to design, get consent for and build.

In contrast, a renovation requires you to incorporate new building systems into an existing building.

With a new build, you’re essentially starting with a blank canvas and there’s a clear methodology for construction. A new build is also unlikely to need as many variations, as long as your plans are clear and well thought through. But renovations typically require numerous variations, largely because of the many assumptions made at the design stage.

Neither you nor the designer can see into the walls to ascertain whether there are any structural issues, and houses are quite often built very differently than what is shown on the council-supplied plans. So assumptions have to be made, but those assumptions inevitably lead to redesign and variations that can quickly add tens of thousands of dollars to the build cost and slow down construction considerably.

Renovations cost more per sqm than a new build. With a new build, the square metre rate is significantly less for various reasons, some of these include:

As you’re generally building a much larger home with a new build than you would be when adding to an existing home, the costs that are required for either a 35 sqm extension or a 200 sqm home are spread over their sqm rate. For example, if there is a kitchen in the 35 sqm extension that costs $35,000 that equates to $1000 per sqm in the renovation build, the same $35,000 kitchen in the 200sqm build only equates to $175 of the total sqm cost.

With a new build on an empty section there is no demolition cost. But a renovation typically calls for a lot of demolition, not to mention skilled labourers to avoid damaging the existing structure. This equates to a lot more labour hours and a lot more waste to dispose of, all adding to the final cost and square metre rate.

A renovation requires the same amount of inspections as a new build, sometimes more! The council has the same list of inspections and they cost the same, from foundations (holes or trenches in the ground) through to post line (once the plasterboard is on ready for plastering) and final inspection (when they check everything is complete and to the plans and code). Again this amount spread over 35 sqm vs 200sqm will add a considerable amount per sqm to the renovation.

Generally, when an extension is put onto a home, the desire is to make the new look blend in, as if it has always been there. Achieving this is satisfying but not always easy. To achieve a seamless extension you can end up trying to source and use materials that might have been commonplace up to 50+ years ago but are far from commonplace today. Sourcing such materials can be quite an expense, and the alternative, having the custom manufactured, is no cheaper! With a new build, all the materials used are current and easily sourced.

In a renovation, you’re building a new structure that needs to join an existing building that can be decades old. Getting these two to tie in together can mean carrying out substantial work on the existing building, which not only adds to the cost of the total project but can also considerably push up the square metre rate for the extension. For example, a roof on a 35 sqm extension can require works on 35 sqm of the existing building-meaning you have built a 70 sqm roof to enable your 35 sqm extension.

Renovations cost more per sqm than a new build.

New builds

New builds mean less compromise or none (if your budget can handle it). You’re starting with a blank canvas on a new build and can more or less have as much as your budget, your imagination and your designer’s style can desire. The only restrictions really come from the building code and the council’s regulations. As long as these are adhered to, the sky’s pretty much the limit.


Renovations, on the other hand, come with a mass of complications for you and your designer before you even start. You have to work around an existing footprint and layout unless you want to gut the entire house, and even doing that you’ll be compromising in order to salvage some of the building.

Renovating v Rebuild: A Summary.

Renovations definitely have their place in our industry, but we’re seeing the cost per sqm increase to a point where it just doesn’t make sense to do renovations on a large scale. Sure renovating a kitchen, bathroom or small extension makes sense, but to gut an entire house or fully renovate one and add an extension simply doesn’t work financially anymore, and you’ll still be compromising with a home that isn’t quite right.

So why not build from scratch and get exactly what you want?

A conversation costs you nothing.

If you’re weighing up your options and wondering whether your best bet is to renovate or build, feel free to contact us. We’re always keen to talk shop.