At some stage you may be forced to answer this question: does it make more sense to renovate your home or demolish it and start from scratch?

There are a few things to consider before you make this decision. Probably the most crucial issue will be the condition of the existing home. Is it possible to make it work for your future needs? Don’t be rash when assessing your home.

p>There may be hidden potential and you might be able to adapt what’s already there in ways you hadn’t previously considered.

Consulting a design professional at an early stage might open doors you had no idea existed. You need to consider what options are available within council guidelines.

There’s no point planning an upstairs extension, for example, if council is unlikely to approve the proposal. A designer will be familiar with council requirements and can clarify exactly what is possible and what isn’t.

Other issues to consider are character and streetscape. If your home has some heritage significance, even if only the fa?e, it might be worth preserving. This can add to its value and contribute towards maintaining the streetscape, which will be appreciated by your neighbours and local council.

It is often possible to create a completely modern home that entirely suits your lifestyle behind the fa?e of a 1910 worker’s cottage. If the home has heritage value, it is likely to be much easier to get plans approved by council if you retain some elements of the original fa?e.

Another important consideration is the impact on the environment. Construction is a very energy-demanding activity. Building materials require a great deal of energy to produce.

Each material is considered to contain what is known as embodied energy which defines the amount of energy that goes into producing, transporting and maintaining it. Materials such as steel and aluminium have much higher embodied energy than timber, for example.

Demolishing existing built fabric and replacing it with new materials places high demands on the environment and it is wise to consider alternatives before you start knocking things down. Is it possible to retain at least part of your home? Can some elements be retained or reused?

Even if you choose to go down the path of total demolition you should aim to reuse as much existing fabric as possible. Old bricks, for example, can be cleaned and prepared for reuse.

This has the added advantage of ensuring that new brickwork will match existing, which is virtually impossible to achieve using entirely new bricks.

Old doors and windows can often be reglazed and sealed and fixtures such as stainless steel sinks, laundry tubs etc. can be cleaned, repaired and reused. All of these measures will not only reduce expenditure but also minimise the impact of construction on the natural environment.

They can also add character to your home that is impossible to achieve using brand new items. If you don’t have what you need on-site, visit a construction waste depot and scrounge around for interesting items that will work for your home.

This can be a great source of old timber for floorboards or beams. Obviously all materials need to be thoroughly assessed for their structural adequacy before they can be reused.

There will always be the odd situation where a home is simply beyond repair. Especially where termites, damp or electrical problems are concerned, it might be wise to just start over.

An assessment of the costs of repair versus starting from scratch will often be the decider. Making a thorough list of pros and cons will help you assess your home and make a decision about its future.

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