At what point do you decide on demolition?

When you buy a home that needs extensive work it can often be more cost effective to knock the property down and start over. In our last blog we discussed some of the factors you need to consider during your decision-making process – do you renovate or rebuild?

In this article we’re taking a look at the ‘tipping point’, this is the point at which it is more cost effective to demolish and rebuild, than renovate.

Making the decision

Many of our clients approach us with the same question. “Should we renovate the existing house or build a new home from scratch?” It is a common predicament to find yourself in, with some tired properties requiring extensive (and expensive) renovation in order to make them fit for purpose.

More than 50% of people in the UK would like to self-build or commission an individually designed home at some point in their life. This is understandable as the benefits of modern technology, materials and techniques are more achievable in new build homes.

Here are a couple of factors which will help with making your decision.


First, make a list of things you would change about the property in order to make it fit your vision; include in this any changes you would want to make to the structure of the property – converting rooms, adding extensions and internal remodelling.

Once you’ve drawn a plan of what your ideal bespoke property might look like to you, speak to a construction professional and get a ball park figure for the cost of the renovations. You will then be in a better position to calculate whether or not your renovations are feasible.


Any developer worth their salt will explain that when you are renovating an older property there is likely to be a significant amount of “negative construction”. This is all the work which needs to be carried out in order to get to a starting point to do the renovations.

For instance, while most properties will appear to be sturdy, taking out structural walls may lead to issues which need to be dealt with before starting the renovation e.g. the impact on an existing roof. In addition, many older houses might require extensive electrical or plumbing works during the renovations, which can push up the cost of getting the work done.

Generally, building costs are fairly consistent across the country. So, in higher value areas it can be possible to recover the additional costs of building a new house because the land values are so high. In lower value areas, the difference in value between an average-quality house and a “good” house are rarely enough to justify a complete rebuild.


Naturally, finances will have a major impact on how you decide to proceed. Believe it or not, when trying to make this difficult decision it can really help to think like a developer. Conducting some high-level research will help you understand the financial implications of the project.

Start by figuring out what is the maximum dwelling size your plot could support together with the ceiling sales value (base your estimate on similar properties in the area). From this number, deduct the purchase and construction costs. If the number you obtain is positive, you have new build potential.

The maths above is a very simple and is a high-level example of estimating the financial feasibility of a new home. Make sure that you get in touch with us for the best advice on plot potential and a ballpark figure regarding your different options.


Remember, that the condition of any existing property plays a large part in which path you choose. Conduct a survey to determine if the structure could withstand wholesale renovations before dismissing it altogether.

If you have a structurally solid detached property in a good size plot – extending and interior renovation could make sense.

However, if large scale structural work proves to be too costly then knocking down the house and building a new one could be the better option.

It is important to bear in mind that new-build projects are 0% rated for VAT, whilst work to an existing house are charged the full rate of 20%.

It is fundamental that you understand your goals for the project, what is the planning potential for the plot, assess the structural impact of these to the existing building and then cost up the options.

Get in Touch

If you would like to schedule in a call to talk about your property options and how to build your dream home, please contact us on 01753 392 410 or email us. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn – we would love to hear from you.

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