Renovate or build: Learn the ABCs of new construction and home renovation

Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.
renovate or build pros and cons
image: matney construction services

Houses get old, and when a house becomes too old for your family, you have to answer the question of whether you need to renovate your home or tear it down completely and start anew. This is a critical decision that requires some hard thinking because the choice of whether to renovate or build will dictate how much money you need to use and how long your home improvement project will take.

In this article, Superdraft will share some useful insights that can help you decide whether to renovate or build a new home for your family.

But first, let's get our definitions in order:

Is renovating and remodelling the same?

This may be one of the most common mistakes homeowners make and one that we need to address before tackling whether to renovate or build. Renovating a home and remodelling is not the same.

Renovating a home entails restoring a house to its old form through cleaning, repairing or rebuilding. Renovations can help remove signs of wear and tear on the house and often involves things like repainting the walls or retiling the floor. It can also include replacing the roof, roof eaves, or gutters.

On the other hand, remodelling involves changing the style or structure of the house. A perfect example is transforming the style of a house from a Mediterranean-inspired one to a Provincial style. Remodelling can also involve repurposing parts of a house, like converting a bedroom into a home office or combining two rooms to make one large bedroom.

kitchen renovation
image: kraftmade

Renovate or build: the big differences

Is it cheaper to renovate or build?

Most of us will say that renovating a home is cheaper, which is true most of the time. Since renovations involve a smaller area and require fewer materials, renovating a home can be cheaper than building a new one. 

However, when left in the wrong hands, renovations can be costly. It is not unusual for renovation costs to skyrocket due to unforeseen expenses like repairing damages resulting from the improper dismantling of walls, floors, and ceilings.

The costs of renovating a home can also be astronomical if you have an old home and want to retain its original design. If you have a hundred-year-old Victorian home and want to retain its original aesthetics, you will need a restoration expert's services. Your contractor may also need to source materials that you won't find in ordinary suppliers if you'd like to retain the original aesthetics of your home. 

Check out this guide that features 10 ways to save money on your renovation project.

renovate or build a house
image: mountain construction

Average cost of building a home in Australia

The average cost of building a house in Australia can vary depending on one's location and other factors. An average-sized home can cost around $271,000 up to $1,124,550.

Average cost of renovating a home in Australia:

Like building cost, renovating cost depends on your location and a range of other factors such as the home's present condition, the area to renovate, materials used, and contractors hired. On average, renovations can cost anywhere from $30,000 for a small project up to more than $200,000 for large homes.

Is it quicker to renovate or build?

Whether you renovate or build, you need to allocate a time that your project will consume, depending on your project's scope. Building a new house usually takes longer because it involves more work for the construction crew. You need to carve out a site where your new house will stand, which involves demolishing your old house. The construction crew will then lay the foundation of your new home before building the new house from the ground up.  

Renovating an old house is usually quicker, but there are some exemptions. If you are renovating a historical house or a particularly old one, it will take longer to renovate. Workers will need to move slowly to avoid damaging other parts of the house and weakening its structural integrity. Old houses built using harmful materials like asbestos also take longer and require more money to renovate because of the health hazards they present.  

Another consideration is the number of permits you need to secure when building a new house. Before you build your dream house, consult your local council to get a list of permits you need to secure, which may include a planning permit, a building permit and others. With renovations, you might not need to secure a permit if the renovations are not too extensive, but it is still better to consult your local council.

If you want to estimate the duration of renovating or building a house, check out this piece about how long a renovation or building project usually takes.

green design of a home
image: earth911.com

Green design

Renovations and new constructions offer opportunities for green design principles that can help provide you with a home that's energy-efficient, eco-friendly, sustainable, and functional. 

Building a new house presents a unique opportunity to make every system in your home energy-efficient and eco-friendly. You can ask the demolition team to salvage useful parts that you can incorporate into building your new home, like bricks, hardwood floors, tiles and windows. Building a new house also allows you to install an energy-efficient heating system that can help you save money in the long run.

Renovating your house also lets you implement some green changes to your home, but your options are limited. Most old homes use electrical and heating systems that are not energy-efficient. You can replace these systems but prepare to beef up your budget because it might cost you. 

Structural integrity

Another aspect you need to consider before deciding whether to renovate or build is the structural integrity of your home. Hire a building inspector and structural engineer who can assess your home to understand better whether your home is worth renovating or if it's time to tear it down and start anew.

structural integrity of a home

Pros and cons of home renovation


  • You can add value to an existing property
  • Relatively less costly than building a new home
  • You can stay in a location you already know and love
  • Retain the original layout of the house (historical-slash-architectural preservation)
  • Less time consuming since you're not starting from scratch
  • Less environmental impact compared to building a new structure


  • You're a little limited to the confines of the existing property
  • You may discover unexpected issues during the renovation process
  • You may need to move out of your home during a house renovation

Pros and cons of building a new house


  • You can customise the overall design without limits
  •  There are zero unexpected issues related to an older property
  •  You can add more features to your new home


  • Relatively more expensive than renovation
  • More environmental impact
  • More time consuming
home renovation project
image: suncorp

Use Superdraft platform for renovate or build projects

Deciding whether to renovate or build is a crucial decision and one you should not make in haste. Both options indeed have their advantages and disadvantages that you should take into consideration. Get in touch with an expert building designer or draftsman near you so you can get an expert opinion as to which option is more viable and beneficial to your family via Superdraft.

Superdraft is a home renovation project coordination platform that can help you:

  • Be matched with a building designer for your project through a 'match technology' in our platform
  • Find free-to-access resources to help you plan your project (including thousands of design ideas in our Inspiration Gallery, trends guides, e-books, and more)
  • Manage your project from design to build through our helpful project coordination tools and features. 
  • Experience your design in 3D and play with colours and materials from the comfort of your home
  • Get free detailed quotes for your project

Register at Superdraft today to access all these perks!

Start planning for free

Find more articles, guides and inspiration in the planning dashboard. Save them to your dream board, and start planning your dream space today.

You may also like

Join our design community

Forgot your username or password?

Download our '5 crucial things you must know before starting any build project' guide for free today

Simply fill in your details below and we’ll send a copy straight over to you

See how much you could save with a free, no-obligation quote today

Simply fill in your details below and we’ll be in touch to discuss your project

  • Drop files here or

Download The Free Guide Now

Fill in the below to get instant access: