Is it better to Knockdown and Rebuild or Renovate?

Knockdown and rebuild or renovate? What are the odds you goggled a similar question to find yourself here? Well wait no longer! Here are some handy things to ask yourself before jumping in and making the big decision.

Homes by Howe, Canberra Builder, knock build rebuild, display home, Chapman
Homes by Howe’s Chapman Display Home was a Knock down rebuild affair.

So you’ve taken the leap in your head and decided it’s about time to make those improvements to your home you’ve been dreaming of. Now you have to decide wether to work with what you’ve got and renovate or knockdown and start from scratch. This can be a bit of a head scratcher with lots of variables that are unique to you, your home and your neighbourhood. We’re here to help make this process a little simpler by asking you some of the big questions that factor into the decision making process.

Homes by Howe, Canberra Builder, knock down rebuild, Watson
A knock down rebuild can provide the space you need for a growing family. New family home in Watson

Are you at risk of overcapitalising?

When trying to decide between a knock down rebuild or renovation you need to take into account the market conditions in your area. You want to try avoiding overcapitalising on your knock down rebuild or renovation, which is when the cost of your build outweighs the market value it adds. The best thing to do is talk to your local real-estate agent or knock down rebuild specialist, as they will be able to help you compare real estate in your area and talk to you about your suburbs performance.

The greatest risk in re-investment in a single dwelling is that it depends on your nieghbour’s re-investment and wider local trends to achieve economic returns. In sought after areas there is little risk of overcapitalising meaning that a knock down rebuild is a good option as you can build closer to a towns amenities. In poorly performing suburbs a smaller and cheaper renovation may be a better option.

Homes by Howe, Canberra Builder, knock down rebuild, Griffith exterior

What condition is your current home in?

What is the current condition of your home? Are there structural issues? Damp? Termites? Make sure you do a thorough evaluation of your current home to uncover all the potential challenges that might occur during a renovation to avoid budget blowouts.

If it’s going to cost a lot of money to bring your home in line with current building requirements then it may be a better option to knockdown and rebuild.

Does the layout of your current home work for you?

Do you like the layout of your current home? Does it work for you and your lifestyle? If your current home functions well for you then it may be better to do a smaller scale renovation and keep the bones of your house intact.

Another aspect to consider is the orientation of your existing home. Does it work with the movement of the sun to provide ample natural light and thermal control? If the orientation of your current home is defective it will most likely require huge structural change, making it simpler to knockdown and rebuild.

What kind of block do you have?

A big consideration is what kind of block you will be building or renovating on. For instance it is easier to knockdown and rebuild on a flat as opposed to sloping block. It would also be a pertinent move to get a soil test to learn about the soil stability of your block and the limitations and costs it would impose on the build. Planning overlays for a specific block will also affect the changes you can make to a buildings structure. If you live in an area with strict planning regulations it may be easier to build within the frame of your existing home.

The best thing to do is talk to a knock down rebuild specialist and they will be able to advise you wether a renovation of knock down rebuild is most suitable for your block and budget requirements.

Homes by Howe, Canberra Builder, knock down rebuild, Watson, top down view of concrete slab construction
Thinking about buying sloping land? Check out Homes by Howe’s ultimate guide here: Things you need to know before buying sloping land

What are the current council requirements in your area?

What are the current council planning regulations in your area? Is a knock down rebuild even an option? There may be demolition restrictions and design limitations that you have to adhere to specific to your local area.

Another consideration is the age and heritage status of your home. If your property is a heritage listing then you will not be able to knockdown and rebuild. However if your current home has unique features and character it is better to renovate to retain the heritage value of the property.

Homes by Howe, Canberra Builder, managing director Brendan Howe taking site measurements
A thorough site evaluation by a knock down rebuild specialist will help you make the most of your block.

What’s your budget?

When choosing between a knock down rebuild or renovation you need to first consider the size and scope of your plan then factor this in against your budget. If it’s a large renovation then a rebuild may be viable.

Knock down rebuilds often cost less per square meter than a renovation. If you are planning an extensive renovation with lots of structural changes a knock down rebuild will give you better bang-for-your-buck. However if the layout and bones of the house work for you then renovating may be the most cost effective option.

It is often cheaper to knockdown and rebuild than retrofit an older house. The potential to have a cost blowout is much higher with a renovation due to unexpected issues posed by the existing structure and older infrastructure systems.

Homes by Howe, Canberra Builder, managing director Brendan Howe talking to client
It all starts with a conversation. A design consult with Homes by Howe avoids wasted time and money.

What are the advantages of a knock down rebuild?

A knock down rebuild is the best solution if you love your neighbourhood but not your current house. It gives you an opportunity to start from scratch and design your dream home in a neighbourhood where you already have established family and social networks. With a knock down rebuild every design choice is yours so you can perfectly tailor your home to your lifestyle and needs.

A knock down rebuild gives you almost complete cost control with no hidden extras or nasty surprises along the way that can sometimes come with a renovation. You can maximise your new home for modern living instead of retrofitting older systems.

Homes by Howe, Canberra Builder, knock down rebuild, partially demolished house

What are the advantages of renovating?

If you love the character of your current home and want to preserve its quirks and unique features then a renovation is your best option. A renovation also gives you the ability to stage the project and complete it incrementally so as to stagger the costs.

If you are starting with a house that has a strong overall structure, heritage value and is in good condition then renovating is the way to go.

Homes by Howe Canberra builder – Enrico Taglietti designed home - facade
Homes by Howe preserves the unique design features of this Enrico Taglietti original.

Which one is more sustainable?

In this case there’s no clear-cut answer. Both a knock down rebuild and renovation involve partial or total demolition of the existing structure, potentially exposing or releasing harmful toxins and materials. However a knock down rebuild specialist will know how to effectively manage and contain these issues. More importantly it is the way in which waste materials are disposed of, wether they are down-cycled, end up in landfill or are returned to technical cycles.

Ultimately neither a knock down rebuild nor renovation is sustainable if not coupled with green building principles. Knocking down and rebuilding gives you the option to replace your old home with an innovative new eco-effective design, whereas often it is difficult to retrofit an older home with sustainable options. Any engagement with a building that does not include energy efficiency and eco-effective improvements is a missed opportunity.

Homes by Howe, Canberra Builder, knock down rebuild, alfresco pool area

When should you Knockdown and rebuild?

So when is the time to knockdown and rebuild? Here is an easy checklist to get you on your way:

  1. If your home has structural issues such as termites, mould, old services or poor foundations.

2. If you want to make better use of your existing block and repurpose the space in ways that suit you and your family.

3. If it is going to cost more to renovate and your home is not heritage listed.

4. You love your neighbourhood but not your house.

5. Property values in your neighbourhood make it suitable for capital re-investment.

Homes by Howe, Canberra Builder, knock down rebuild, Red Hill, exterior
Award winning home in Red Hill

Why a knock down rebuild specialist?

A knock down rebuild specialist will be able to advise you on how to make the most of your site and will already have established industry contacts. The benefit of having a professional take over means that you can take a step back and let the experts build your new home. It also gives you a known completion date and timeline.

At Homes by Howe a site manager is on site from start to finish keeping you up-to-date with the build progress, making the experience of building your dream home as stress free as possible. Homes by Howe also use a transparent quoting process to make sure there are no nasty surprises along the way. If you’re ready to embark upon a knock down rebuild or renovation get in contact with Homes by Howe for a design consult!


Gepts, B., et al. (2019). Renovation Activities by Homeowners. Analysis of Energy and Non-energy Renovation Activities and Possible Connections. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science Belgium IOP Publishing

Risholt, B. and T. Berker (2013). “Success for Energy Efficient Renovation Dwellings- Learning from Private Homeowners.” Energy Policy 61: 1022-1030.

Wiesel, I., et al. (2013). “Owner-Driven Suburban Renewal: Motivations, Risks and Strategies in Knockdown and Rebuild Processes in Sydney, Australia.” Housing Studies 28(5): 701-719.