Whether your family has grown in size, or your house is looking a little tired, you might be weighing up the pros and cons of renovating versus demolishing and starting afresh. It’s a quandary that Melbourne architect Anna Dutton, of Bower Architecture, sees all the time and she’d like to help our readers put some clarity around the issue.
“This week I chatted to some really lovely potential clients who had mid-century houses, and they were struggling with whether they should renovate or create a new home. It’s a question we get so often that I thought it might be worthwhile to share our thoughts with anyone else who is facing the same challenge,” says Anna.
While renovating can produce a great result from a design, sustainability and cost perspective, Anna stresses that a home must pass a simple three question test to figure out if it’s worthy of demolition or an overhaul.
Is your home structurally sound?
Is the house or building in good structural condition? Answer with a ‘yes’ if it feels solidly built and there are no large cracks appearing, no springy squeaky floors, no damp on the walls (or on your nose!) and if the walls and floors are straight or level.
Are you happy with your home’s room sizes?
Are the majority of the rooms a good size to be re-used? Answer ‘yes’ to this one if you could imagine re-purposing most of the spaces with a continued or new use. For example, in an existing house, are the bedrooms a size that you are happy with keeping? Are bathroom spaces large enough to be re-used?
Does your home have good bones?
Finally, does the house or building have some architectural character and do you actually like it? It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece but if it has something interesting to you, and some charm, answer ‘yes’ to this question.
“For the house or building to be an ideal candidate for a renovation, you need to have answered ‘yes’ to all three of these questions. If you have answered yes to only two you could have a renovator on your hands, but it may be similar in cost to a rebuild. If it is a ‘no’ to all, a new project will probably be your best option financially,” says Anna.
And while we love a one-size-fits-all approach (I mean, who doesn’t want this issue resolved in three simple steps?), there is one factor that completely nullifies the above. And that is a matter of the heart – are you emotionally attached to your existing home? Has your home been in the family for years or has it been the backdrop to many amazing memories? “If this is the case a renovation is the only way forward even if you have answered ‘no’ to all of the questions above.”
Architecture & interior design: Bower Architecture | Photographer: Shannon McGrath | Shoot stylist: Ruth Welsby | Builder: Macasar | Furniture, decorating and artwork selections: Tara Wood | Window coverings by Nicole Bell Design