So what do you do? Renovate, Extend, Rebuild or Move-Out? This is a dilemma that many people face and one which must be addressed with a clear path of thinking. What turns a house into a Home, is how it responds to a family's unique needs, and modifying it can be as much about the wish to update it to reflect contemporary taste, as well as adapting it to the changing needs of the people that inhabit it. To help you work out which direction is best for you, here are some key issues I suggest my clients consider:
YOUR NEEDS: a growing family, the kids needing their own space, grandparents moving in, maybe the need for a more accessible one-level space, or wanting to downsize because the children moved out... the reasons can be varied. Or is it just a wish for change? You must be clear about the changes you want to achieve, because a well planned build or renovation will save you headaches as well as time and money. Consider how each part of the home is used and when, how each room flows into the next... often moving a doorway, or even simply re-hinging a door a different way, can effectively change how the flow of your space works. Sometimes reconfiguring the floor plan can remove the need to go out or up, which also saves a big expense.
PROFESSIONAL ADVICE: whether the desire is to achieve new looks, updating the home, or to respond to the changed family needs, you should always seek professional advice to guide you through a renovation, as mistakes can be very costly. An experienced eye providing a fresh new take and different ideas, can ensure you don't miss out on lost opportunities in maximising the way you use your home, as well as keeping you within budget. An experienced Interior Designer will help you understand and achieve the space that suits your needs, as well as understanding the restrictions or options available with your existing floor plan. More information about structural changes and building times will come from the Builder, and one you can really trust will also help you avoid unnecessary expenses.
Honest advice is always paramount as some homes may not be able to become what you wish them to be by renovating or expanding, in which case a move may be the best route forward for you and your family. The quick addition of a further floor for example is not always feasible on all properties, or there may not be enough room for the sideways extension that you wish. At times just a coat of paint may be all that's needed to bring an old home into the 21st century, or an update of the bathroom and kitchen without the need to move any walls... Does the property have architectural characteristics that should be preserved, and can still be enhanced with an updated take on the existing style? A quality job, within time and budget is what you need and deserve. Ultimately, you have no choice but trust the builder, and to avoid unnecessary delays and growing costs you must find the right one. To do so, a great idea is to source personal recommendations from family and friends: as the best advertising is indeed word of mouth.
STICK TO BUDGET: Be very clear with what you can afford to spend and set your limits. Often renovating/extending can end up disrupting your whole life for a longer time than you thought, and costing more money than the benefits you will get from it. In some cases, and depending upon the amount of change that is needed, to demolish and rebuild the existing home, known as a knock-down-rebuild, may indeed be the more affordable option.
Finally, selling and moving into the property that satisfies the needs of your family may be the easiest and more affordable decision than renovating, as well as a big time saver. If unsure, renting-out your property and moving temporarily can be a way to help you experience the change of home type or area, while still allowing you to go back if it doesn't work as well as hoped.
Concluding: 1) Be clear about your needs and expectations. 2) Talk to the experts about what is possible and what the results are going to be, as information is "gold". 3) Ask for quotes and allow for some buffer that may help you if anything goes wrong during the renovation, as often opening up walls and removing roofing can expose hidden problems that you never knew existed.
Renovating is never a breeze, because of the money it costs, the discomfort it may create at home and the time it takes... but if you plan it well, your property can become the perfect home for your family's needs, and with some thought and preparation, an old home can become the perfect refuge for many more years to come.
James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James Treble has decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design. His knowledge and experience in adding value to homes, through clever design & styling, is now published for all to learn and benefit from. Interior Design For Profit is now available online.