It could be one of the hardest and most important decisions you will ever make: do you renovate or do you relocate?
Perhaps it’s been bubbling in your mind for some time – in its existing configuration, your house just isn’t working for your family and your needs. So maybe you’ve been browsing those real estate pages for something new and it dawned on you – with a few tweaks here and there, maybe deciding to extend could solve all your problems and mean you can stay in a home you’ve grown to love.
Either way, it’s a big decision and we want to help you decide.
First, you need to be clear in your head about what you need from your home: and not just today, but into the future, such as when the kids grow up and eventually move out. But as they do grow older, will a second bathroom be necessary? Somewhere for them to hang out with friends while you escape to the quiet?
There are also other lifestyle considerations to bear in mind. A home extension allows you to maintain your current lifestyle without the disruption of finding alternative accommodation or changing location. If you decide to purchase another home in a new location, it can be very disruptive to your family as they may need to rebuild their familiar network of friends and favourite places to go. You might be fortunate enough to be able to move very close by but stamp duty costs, relocation costs, and legal fees still need to be considered.
Renovating means your kids can stay at their school, you don’t have to think about changing jobs, and you avoid that hassle of moving altogether – even though there are things you can do to make relocating less stressful.
On the other hand, renovating is not everyone’s cup of tea either, particularly for those with families. For the short term, you need to manage with living on a construction site during the renovation. The bureaucratic hurdles and all that planning and paperwork can also be a nightmare without support particularly while planning a house extension.
Next, consider whether renovating is even viable. For instance, you might have a plot of land that is difficult to get machinery into, or perhaps it’s ageing and a simple renovation could end up as a hugely expensive overhaul.
But there can also be a great upside to renovating that relocating may never fully be able to compete with the ability for you to fully customise what you want. Like building from scratch but more affordable and accessible, renovating means you take a home you already love and perfect it just for your needs.
The cost of renovating
Renovating can really make financial sense because what you spend on that second bathroom or extra floor can translate into a much bigger price tag when it comes to selling. But there’s also the possibility of overcapitalising – meaning you spend a lot but you won’t even get your money back when you sell.
It is a good idea to have your existing house valued before you decide to go ahead. While there have been warnings about over-investing, some properties are actually under-invested. It is more likely your current house has the capacity to absorb the costs of the extension and is able to recoup the extra investment in the next five to seven years.
But remember, if you’re renovating purely for lifestyle and intend to keep that home, then the risk of overcapitalising diminishes. And a renovating budget is also flexible, meaning you can just go for an affordable touch-up or – if you can afford it and it makes sense – go for broke with a total overhaul.
Either way, home extension and renovation costs can vary considerably depending on your needs.
While owner builder home extensions may offer all the above perks with expected reduced costs it can be a surprisingly difficult and stressful option and one that can cost you dearly in terms of time wasted and family conflict. Finding a quality builder can lessen the impact on your family life, and make the whole process far less burdensome.
In short, the more advice you seek, the more informed and confident a decision you will make. We’re talking the full gamut: home extension specialists, bank managers, accountants, real estate agents, tradies, and anyone else in the know you can get your hands on.
Finally, so much about the ‘renovate or relocate’ is down to personal preference, and we know that many of you reading have your own experiences that could really help those who are grappling with this decision. So we’d love to hear from you!