Queensland Weekender | Ask an Expert with Daniel Klinge

Renovating an existing home [costs more] than rebuilding

A common question I am asked by potential clients is whether they should renovate their current home or demolish it and rebuild. Both options have advantages and complications.

The rule of thumb is that renovating an existing home has a higher per-square-metre cost than building a new one. Working around existing structures requires more general labour, planning and execution. But your decision should not be based solely on construction costs. There are other factors:


Is knocking down the house to build new permitted in your area? Is your current home in a Demolition Control Precinct area (DCP) or a “character coded home”? Check with a local town planner.

Does the existing home have character and charm that you wish to maintain? Is this what made you purchase the home in the first place? Once demolished, do the boundary regulations change from the existing building? In some circumstances the new home may not be able to occupy the same position. Consider if you want to stagger your construction, as a renovation will allow you to do this, whereas a new home will not.


Are you looking to expand your family and do you need much larger areas? Would your planned extension fit on your block? Does the existing home have the desired orientation? Ideally, your living areas should be north-facing. Is major structural engineering required to fix this?

By building new and possibly going up, would you capture views that could possibly increase the overall value of the home? New homes can be built quickly, saving you time and unexpected delays. Modern materials and systems also maximise energy efficiency and reduce the overall costs associated with running your home. I strongly suggest you reach out to your local real estate agents for their professional opinion on what your home is worth now and what it might be worth renovated or built new.

QUESTION: When renovating do i need to have house insurance?

ANSWER: The answer is really simple. Yes. It is the responsibility of the property owner to effect and maintaininsurance on their own property and contents, unless the building contract you have signed states otherwise. New construction and major renovation projectscreate unique insurance challenges, so I recommend you consult with an experienced independent insurance broker before starting any works.

QUESTION:A builder on my proposed renovation wants to charge me for his quotation. Should I pay?

ANSWER: We charge a fee for our quotation process and bill of quantities, so I would say yes. Be sure to obtain quotations from specialists in their fields, such as custom home builders and renovation specialists. Do not pay for quotations from those who don’t understand your project. If you pay for a quote, it will be detailed and accurate as the builder will be prepared to spend the time required as opposed to others who will run an eye over your plans and produce an “estimate figure”.

QUESTION: I want to build a timber retaining wall. What size and type of timber should I use?

ANSWER: There are a few different types of timber sleeper walls depending on the height and theme you want to go with. If your timber sleeper wall is over the height of 1m, then a structural engineer must be engaged to design the size of timbers and footings. A sleeper wall under 1m is commonly referred to as a landscaping wall. If the wall is less than 1m, then I suggest using CCA

(copper chrome arsenate) hardwood timber sleepers as the CCA treatment is a wood preservative and will last twice as long as untreated pine sleepers. Your general size for sleepers is 200mm x 50mm and 200mm x 75mm.

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