Your Property Project: To Renovate, or to Build?

The your property project low down, what to consider and who to consult when deciding if to build, or renovate.

Architecture plans for a property

Once you’ve been bitten by the development bug there’s no going back – but when taking on your first property project there’s so many options that it can be a very daunting task to begin. There are three main choices when it comes to developing your home: building a completely new house, renovating your current home or buying a property and developing that. Each comes with its own challenges, constraints and opportunities; and once you understand each, you can decide which path to a new living space is right for you.
Before beginning any property development project it is worth consulting with a development professional but the ultimate decision on how to proceed is all yours. So what to consider before you seek out expert advice? Let’s run through the basics…
A new build

Is your existing space suitable for development?

If you need more space, the most cost effective and usually easiest option is to renovate or extend your existing home. However, there are many reasons why this may not be possible. Homes that are listed, situated on an environmental site or are subject to other planning restrictions may simply mean that the property cannot be developed or extended any further than its current state. This may make the decision for those within – if you can’t extend, you need to either self-build on a new site or buy another property and develop that (but check first the suitability of that for further development!). 

What’s the most cost effective option?

Cost is one of the most influential factors in any construction project, particularly when you’re financing it out of your own pocket and it’s not being bankrolled by wealthy property development firms! Which option makes the most sense financially for you will have a huge impact on the decision of how to proceed.
The most expensive choice is typically to acquire a plot of land and self-build – as you’re responsible for the sitework, installation of all utilities and construction of the building itself; and that’s before you even consider the project costs and contracting fees! There are some instances where renovating an existing property may rival the cost of a self-build, but these are only really for specialist and period homes. There are government-sanctioned financial incentives to help individuals self-build their homes but these are only available in some areas and under certain circumstances and conditions.
Renovations and extensions are by no means low-cost property projects but needn’t break the bank if done efficiently. Generally speaking, the older the building, the more it will cost to renovate and/or extend, but this isn’t always the case. Renovations often incur costs in ‘hidden’ charges that occur when the unexpected happens along the way. This includes the discovery of toxic materials and delays due to supply and building issues. Providing renovation and/or extension is permitted, there are some local authorities that offer grants toward the refurbishment of properties, particularly in underused or ‘blighted’ sites.

How soon do you need a refreshed living space?

Baby on the way? Immediate mobility issue? You may want your living space changed sharpish. But if you’re simply choosing to future-proof or don’t have a pressing need to convert anything right away, the requirement for completion of your property project may not be so urgent.
As a rule of thumb, unless you’re planning major extensions or renovations, self building on a new plot of land will take the longest of any property project – however, if buying a new property to develop, you also need to factor in the buying process along into the project timeline. While no property project ever seems to go perfectly to plan and contingency time should always be factored in to your expectations, it is rare for a renovation to take longer than a full new build.
Architect drawings

What’s the scope of your new living space?

Renovations to any property are limited by the building they’re being made to or in, and so if you have specific requirements, an existing home may not be able to facilitate them. A self build gives you complete control over property design and so is entirely bespoke – allowing you to tailor the new home to your desired function and specifications without constraint.
While most local authorities will only grant planning permission or development rights for certain function and form of buildings, the sheer level of control that you have in a self build project still allows for more variation and freedom than a renovation. In the case of families needing a home for a wheelchair or other specific mobility needs, self builds are almost always the favoured option as renovations simply aren’t able to be completed to the same high standard required. 

Can you find land to build on or a new property to renovate in the area you want to live in?

If you need or want to live in a certain area but property prices are high or there’s a lack of available land, you may be forced to renovate rather than build as starting afresh simply may not be an option. In the case of plots of land for self builds, there are specialist development firms who locate and secure land, but these can be costly and still may not hasten the search of a suitable site. 
Local planning authorities are often very receptive to self build properties and so if you’d like to construct a new place but are struggling to find somewhere to site it, get in touch with the relevant authority for advice.
A newly installed large kitchen
Embarking on property projects can be exciting but there’s certainly lots to consider and to get through. Even the smallest of renovations can transform your living space and quality of life so don’t hold back – get cracking and love the space you live in. 

Get in touch!

Your local Refresh team will help you to translate your ideas and renovation dreams onto paper and with our end to end process, keep your home improvement project on track and on budget. Get in touch today to see how Refresh Renovations can help you.

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