It’s the age-old question faced by home buyers and investors alike.

You have an old, “tired” home in a great location, but it’s desperately in need of a huge face-lift – so, which way should you lean?

Undertake a major renovation and give it a new lease of life or knock it down and start afresh with a new build?

Unfortunately, there is no single right answer because everyone’s circumstances are different, but here are a few factors to consider to help make your decision.

COST:

No matter which action you choose (improve OR remove) it’s going to be a costly exercise.

Some builders will argue that it is cheaper to build a new home on existing land rather than undertake an expensive renovation.

And it’s a point to consider – if you need to completely replace wiring, pipes, plumbing and guttering, restump, reroof, repaint and recarpet as well as repair cracked walls or foundations (or even termite and weather damage), then starting anew might be a better option. And there’s always that risk of asbestos being found in older homes.

The bottom line is a new home will also boast a modern, contemporary design which will usually reflect greater efficiencies in energy consumption as well.

But the golden rule still rings true – don’t over capitalise. Even if it’s going to be the family home for life, you don’t want to go into huge debt and lose on the deal.

It’s no great revelation to remind you that there will always be hidden costs and unforseen problems which can soon lead to budget blowouts.

Another outlay we can often overlook is the cost of renting while work is underway.

Any construction can take weeks or months so, unless your friends or family have that spare room just waiting for you , be sure to factor in rental costs for the time you’ll be away from home (as well as storage charges for your furniture and personal possessions).

HAS YOUR EXISTING HOME GOT “GOOD BONES”?:

If so, then you’ve already got a great jump on starting from scratch.

Older homes can be like their owners – as the years roll by, age can slowly take its toll.

But just because the odd creak and groan might be there, it’s nothing a little TLC can’t fix.

If you’re happy with your home’s layout then simply updating the bathroom and kitchen (adding new appliances, benchtops and cupboards) or knocking out a wall to create an open-plan living area might be the perfect answer.

Just be sure to remember that most probably you will be LIVING in a construction zone for many weeks – and beside the constant noise and sawdust; having a kitchen, toilet or bathroom out of commission for any length of time can quickly test your good humour……especially with a small family.

WILL THIS BE YOUR FINAL HOME?:

It seems an odd question to ask, but is “the one”?

Is this the home you’re planning to live in until your final days……the one you want to retire in? The one the grandkids will fill with laughter and golden memories?

If it is – then congratulations.

If you want to spend a couple of extra dollars on your dream master bedroom or adding an ensuite then go for it…….you deserve it.

The counter side to this is obvious, if this is just a home for “now” and you see yourself moving on sometime in the near future then that can have a bearing on what work you engage to have done as well as the choice of appliances, floor covering and fittings.

AVAILABLE LAND:

How much room do you have available? How much do you need? What’s the block’s configuration?

If your plans are too grandiose then that lush green back yard you love so much may soon disappear under the blade of a grader. You may get a larger house as wanted, but your ongoing lifestyle may be compromised as a result.

If you want your private backyard oasis to remain as is, then go up (rather than out). But always be mindful that a second storey can sometimes prove a challenge in your retirement years.

Whatever your renovation plans may be, don’t forget that your local Council will have the final say in what is allowed to go where.

Talk to Council to see that your vision matches their building regulations and DO NOT start any work until all the approvals are in place.

This is doubly true if your home is in a heritage precinct.

No matter whether you choose to “improve or remove”, just be sure to do your research – weigh up the costs, create a realistic budget and get expert advice.

Talk to a trusted builder or real estate agent (or me) and work out the best option to suit your needs.

A project of this size may seem daunting to begin with but, done right, it can provide a cherished home for decades to come.