Start a discussion

The Bunnings Workshop community can help with your home improvement projects.

Renovate or detonate?

Community Manager
Community Manager

Renovate or detonate?

I had a long walk this morning with Humphrey the dog after dropping off my car for a service. 


During the walk I was astonished with how many cleared blocks I strolled past, as well as how much building activity was in progress. Our street is the same - there's a lot of work going on. We now have an empty block next to our house after the owner demolished late last year.


I can understand why we're seeing this more and more. Many people love new homes and it can be much more cost effective to build a new house from scratch rather than undertake a full renovation. We're also obviously seeing multiple dwellings being built on what used to be standard quarter-acre blocks with single homes. But I can't help but feel a little sad to see some of the great old houses in our area disappear. 


For those that have chosen to renovate or build new, I'm curious to learn about the factors that were most important to you when making your decision. How difficult was your choice? Would you do anything differently if you had your time again?



See something interesting? Give it the thumbs up!
Trusted Contributor

Re: Renovate or detonate?

We renovated about eight years ago. We loved the front of the house but the back clearly needed a lot of work. It was the result of a dodgy extension - dark and pokey. It needed to be opened up. Bulldozing would have been a crime in our opinion but I see why plenty of people are doing it these days. The costs of renovation have increased a lot even in the past 10 years and it's always been cheaper to work with a blank canvas than have to deal with existing problems/limitations/challenges.


I think the main advantage of doing a reno is that you can take your time and do it room by room like @mikedoeslife and his partner are doing. Most people don't have the cash to go big all at once. And of course you can do some of it yourself and save money that way. There are not many people that are capable of being owner builders of an entire new build.   


We would do the same again but certainly learned plenty of lessons. Getting the right builder being the key takeaway....

Experienced Contributor

Re: Renovate or detonate?

I always say that living in London for 6 years during my 20's ruined the way I look at houses forever. I would walk around the city and be in awe of its beauty and architecture. All I see when I look at newer homes are brick boxes that all look the same and lack 'soul'. 


I think old houses are beautiful (particularly Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco!), full of character and something that should be preserved. Not only are we destroying our city's history, but whole suburbs are losing their street appeal and aesthetics in place of a horrid mix of new and old that doesn't quite work.


I don't mind super-modern (architecturally designed) homes in the right street/suburb, but I feel sick to the stomach when I see beautiful old homes being demolished around Melbourne to build new homes or multiple dwellings. Unfortunately even heritage protected homes are being bulldozed to the ground as owners are appealing the right to develop the property and councils are being overruled by VCAT.


When we were house hunting, there was only one option - an old home. My home is about as 'Melbourne' as you can get - a single-fronted Victorian with lacework, sash windows, 3.4m ceilings and most importantly, character. 


Even though we don't have a heritage overlay (something I can't quite comprehend), we have decided to build our 2nd storey extension in a way that is both subtle and matches the heritage look of the house from the outside. Of course, an old house is not always practical for modern living and the inside will a modern, bright family home.


My opinion is this - if you want a new home, move to a suburb that allows you to buy a block of land or bulldoze an ugly home that no-one will miss anyway.


Leave the beautiful old homes for someone else to restore, preserve and love for generations to come.


New Contributor

Re: Renovate or detonate?

I went down the path of detonation. We had a californian bungalow in an old suburb and had lived in it for 5 years while trying to find a way to extend it without making it a rabbit warren.


Our next door neighbours had gone down the extension path and employed an architect to get the best out of the building. Unfortunately they were not too successful and ended up with a home with lots of small internal rooms and windows and little natural light. It also cost a fortune - extensions can cost 3 times as much as new builds for the same floor space.


Like the others in this forum I love the look of the older homes but the need to replace wiring/plumbing/windows/ceilings and roof tiles before even getting to the new bits was just not worth it. My solution was to build a new house in the style of an old house to get the best of both worlds.


I’d owner/built 3 extensions before and decided to do the same with this one as well to save money and keep tighter control over the project. I spent about 6 months drawing up the plans and it took about 3 months to get council approval. Building the shell took 6 months to get to a point where we could move back in. Then, it then took me 3 years to finish off the internal fitout myself!

The end result was a big, open plan house with 10 foot ceilings and a high pitched roof in a style that fits in with the old houses in the street. It also has smart wiring, a 6 star energy rating and a great layout.


So I say it’s better to build new, just try and keep the style of the old.


Here's that build at one year




Established Contributor

Re: Renovate or detonate?

I get sad when I walk past beautiful old homes with real estate boards on them that don't even have a single picture of the property. They just have the land measurements, as if no-one would ever consider renovating or seeing any value in the building. It's just a piece of land to be developed. :unhappy:

Super Contributor

Re: Renovate or detonate?

Whether its renovating or knocking down, either is certainly better than moving when you consider the cost of stamp duty these days. Check out this article -


The increase in the last 20 years is ridiculous. 


MELBOURNE stamp duty owed on a median-priced property
Date Median house price Stamp duty Adjusted for inflation
June 1997$141,802$4,708 $7,680
June 2007$407,701$20,122 $24,956
June 2017$873,930$47,506 $47,506
Trusted Contributor

Re: Renovate or detonate?

I always get sad when I see a beautiful old home being demolished. I took a photo of one this week before it was all gone.



Trusted Contributor

Re: Renovate or detonate?

Some tips for would-be detonators - there is usually lots of salvagable (recyclable) items that can earn you money.



Why join the Bunnings Workshop community?

Workshop is a friendly place to learn, get ideas and find inspiration for your home improvement projects